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Bruce Springsteen
Dreamtime at Fenway

It was a magical moment in Red Sox nation last Saturday. Down in the Bronx, our heroes embarrassed George Steinbrenner, Roger Clemens, and the rest of the Yankees 11-0 while, up here in Boston, the final touches were being put on Fenway Park. When Bruce Springsteen and his E. Street Band hit the stage just after 8 p.m., all truly seemed right with the world. For the 36,000 fortunate enough to hold tickets, this was a dream, and Fenway never felt more intimate. The massive stage in centerfield seemed cozy in comparison with the gargantuan performance space built for the Boss at Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium last month, and the view of the grandstand from seats on the field gave every dreamer in the park a glimpse of what it would feel like to patrol the outfield for the Sox during a frenzied playoff game.

All that was left was for Springsteen to deliver the show of a lifetime. And if what he brought to Fenway was consistent with the model he has established on this tour, with eight tracks from his most recent Columbia release, the post–September 11 meditation The Rising, it was nonetheless dotted with local references and obscurities. The proceedings opened with Danny Federici’s organ rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" before Springsteen stepped into a thumping workout of Bo Diddley’s "Diddy Wah Diddy." He’s always been determined to connect with his audience on as many levels possible, and he spoke, between songs, of feeling the "soul of the city" from inside Fenway.

He wasted little time in getting to his first solid cut, driving a powerful "Ties That Bind" with ferocious lead guitar playing. Following the "Born in the U.S.A."–era B-side "Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart" with a dynamic version of "Because the Night," he accelerated straight into "Badlands," reaching an early peak. It was an energy he maintained until just after 11 o’clock, when he was joined by local legend Peter Wolf for the Standells’ "Dirty Water," an appropriate exclamation mark.


Issue Date: September 12 - 18, 2003
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