Bruce Springsteen wasn’t lying when he told the crowd in London’s Hyde Park they were in for a treat as he took to the stage on Saturday.
A solo effort of “Thunder Road” kick-started proceedings — a song he declared as the first he had played at his inaugural gig in the UK all those years back. But if that song was a reflection of his past, it wasn’t long before the man we know as The Boss brought the crowd up to speed with his disenchantment with modern life.
Given the political undertones of his latest album Wrecking Ball, this performance came with the added significance of falling on Bastille Day and the 100th birthday of legendary protest singer Woody Guthrie.
“Death to my Hometown,” “Jack of all Trades” — these are songs that have quickly grown to symbolize the global economic crisis of late. With Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello appearing on stage as a guest guitarist with Springsteen, the message was being played loud and clear. They sang and the crowd listened.
Indeed, content to challenge the establishment to the hilt, The Boss overran his curfew by 30 minutes as his legion of fans called for him to continue playing well into the night — in a quickly becoming infamous move, organizers cut the power during Springsteen’s second encore with guest Paul McCartney, going from “Twist & Shout” to twisting in the wind.
Before all that the hits were flowing. “Born in the USA,” “Dancing in the Dark,” a nod to the blue-collar worker with “Working on the Highway” and, as the rain fell the only way it can on a British summer evening, a fitting take on “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” He had the crowd suitably in the palm of his hand and he wasn’t going to ease off.
Bringing McCartney on stage to perform Beatles classics “I Saw Her Standing There” and “Twist & Shout” only fuelled this hunger for more, but such is the nature of The Man, Springsteen’s microphones were promptly switched off before he could finish the encore, leading to calls of discontent from the crowd.
All this rocking at 62 years old evidently stirs up an appetite. Mid-show, spotting the food stands that bordered his stage, The Boss called for someone to “Get me one of those footlong hot dogs!”
Well, we had opted for Southern fried chicken and noodles earlier, and had we known of the nausea they would bring on, a footlong may have indeed been the order of the day.
But that’s festival food for you – it fills a hole, if anything, while the music does a whole lot more. For that, we can testify.