Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band live at The Isle of Wight Festival
“So this is your idea of a summer’s day?” (it rained all last night and whilst gloriously sunny, it is barely 20c) Bruce asks, looking at the crowd pityingly. “We came by plane, car and f-ing boat to get here” he proclaims, seemingly incredulous that he had to travel on a boat. The crowd are surprisingly sympathetic to Bruce’s travails considering the vast majority had a nightmare journey on the previous Thursday through torrential rain, mud, five hour ferry rides / coach trips / car journeys and goodness knows what else. “I was on the beach yesterday and people were actually swimming in the sea! I couldn’t believe it!”
It’s almost de rigeur to wax lyrical about Springsteen’s legendary live shows. Until now I’d never witnessed it myself but can now confirm that, judging by yesterday’s show, if anything those reports are understated.
Opening with a triple whammy of Badlands, No Surrender and We Take Care of Our Own, Springsteen took the Isle of Wight Festival by the scruff of its neck and showed all the preceding acts Who’s Boss. Spending almost as much time amongst / in front of the crowd as he did onstage Bruce tore through a three hour set with plenty of songs from 2012’s Wrecking Ball album and five songs from Born In The USA.
Short of getting Courtney Cox to leap onstage to dance during Dancing in the Dark, there was little more he could have done. As it was, that honour fell to someone else in the crowd who gave Bruce her very fetching hat to wear…
On a night when England were playing Italy in Euro 2012, fans were occasionally checking their iPhones for the scores. As Italy missed a penalty, the opening chords of Born To Run rang out, and for ten minutes or so even the most die-hard fans forgot about the football. England lost, but no-one really cared. They had just witnessed a phenomenon.
“I heard there were going to be fireworks. I’m not going until I’ve seen the fireworks” proclaimed Bruce at the finale. On cue, he took us through a Ferris Bueller-style Twist and Shout.
What shines out for me with Springsteen is the man’s honesty and sincerity. These principles meant Springsteen shelved an album (The Promise), the making of which is the subject of a recent documentary. The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town is a superb film and well worth checking out for its archive footage and story of the making of a classic album. Funny how all the headliners this year have been the subjects of documentaries recently.
Great set, great night. The perfect end to a very muddy, occasionally sunny and always high quality 2012 Isle of Wight festival.
Record #62: Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own