BRUCE Springsteen is the anti-Madonna – no diva latecoming on his watch. Bang on 6.45pm, the E Streetview camera was switched on, and then, with a pithy “hello Glasgow, what a beautiful day”, it was straight down to business, ripping through a succession of indelible roots rock’n’roll numbers with only a 1-2-3-4 count-in from The Boss.
Bruce Springsteen | Rating: **** | Hampden Park, Glasgow
Such was the enthusiasm for the latest of his famously marathon tour sets, that fans were quite prepared to turn up at teatime and risk sunburn on the pitch and DVT in the seats so as not to miss a thing.
The stadium sound was pretty soupy to start, the members of the redoubtable E Street Band competing at full tilt rather than blending like the family they are - saxophonist Jake Clemons, nephew of the late Clarence, was especially welcomed by the crowd – but they hit their peerless stride around the gospel theatre of Spirit In The Night. Other highlights across the next three-and-a-half hours included the rambunctious Rosalita, a gritty Because The Night and the more considered moments, such as the tragic torch song Point Blank, before a heroic Badlands ushered in the big guns encore.
While it is true that Springsteen requires none of the bells and whistles which usually accompany shows of this magnitude, there are conventions to his concerts – the waggling hands in the air which wave Born to Run on its way, the song requests daubed on odd bits of cardboard which are dutifully gathered in from the audience, the terrace drone of “Bruuuuuce” after each song which could be mistaken for the low rumble of discontent among the masses, were it not for the obvious jubilation throughout the crowd.
And, best of all, there’s Springsteen’s simple communion with the fans. He spent much of the time down among the front rows, pressing the flesh on a number of small podiums and occasionally inviting a lucky individual to join him on stage. He was almost upstaged in the opening minutes by a young girl in stars-and-stripes leggings who gamely belted out the chorus of Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, and at the other end of the evening by a teenager strumming along with him on a borrowed acoustic and a touching pas de deux during Dancing In The Dark with a woman who, according to her homemade sign, had been waiting 40 years for this dance. Such things as dreams are made of.