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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bruce Springsteen @ The Bradley Center

March 17, 2008

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Toborrow a title from the artist’s own songbook, Bruce Springsteen once again “proved it all night” as he and a reunited E Street Band rocked the BradleyCenter for a near-capacity crowd Monday night. There were a few empty patches of seats, mostly behind the sports arena’s stage, but they were hard to see amid the joyous audience’s dancing and singing during an aggressive two-and-a-half-hour set.

Springsteen, 58, and his eight-member, black-clad band have slowed a little since their earlier days. Some have put on weight, others have lost their hair, and sax-manClarenceClemons seems to have trouble with his legs, walking stiffly and often sitting between solos on a large wooden chair. But the E Streeters are still inhabited by the energy that characterized early performances, along with an only slightly subdued joie de vivre The Boss brings to his work.

Stage patter was minimal as one song flowed into another, creating a lengthy list of career-spanning hits. Selections includ- ed “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City,” drawn from Greetings from Asbury Park, Springsteen’s 1973 debut, to “Radio Nowhere” and “Livin’ in the Future” from Magic, recorded last year.

“Streets of Fire,” an extended “She’s the One” and “Promised Land” segued into the more soulful “My Hometown,” “Devils & Dust” and “The Rising.” A hard-rocking “Badlands” closed the initial set. In a rare moment of group-wide consciousness, the audience en masse repeated the song’s unarticulated chorus until the band took the stage once again.

The band returned for an extended encore, including a lovely version of “Meeting Across the River” featuring UW- Madison School of Music professor Richard Davis, who had previously recorded with Springsteen, on acoustic bass, and the seminal “Born to Run.” The aging rockers seemed intent on proving themselves with a longer performance than anyone had expected.
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