I'm in a hurry, have a lot to do today, so don't have time at the moment to do Night #2 justice. I wouldn't be me if I didn't toss something out, though. I'll have a retrospective "both concerts plus words on Magic" post in the next couple of days … I know you're on the edge of your seats.
When I know people who went to one of two shows, I feel a bit of a crank if I say one show was better than the other. What if you were at the other show? So I'll say a couple of things here. First, the best show is the one you were at. We're used to that with Bruce, those of us who live on the West Coast … the general opinion is that the best shows are always in the East, where the fans and Bruce connect in special ways. But hey, I've never seen him anywhere but the West Coast, so those shows were the best for me. Second, it's practically impossible for me to judge which show was better of the two this week, because my experiences were quite different. Thursday night I was down in the pit, very close to the band, making the kinds of connections only proximity allows. But Robin wasn't there. Friday night we had seats … they were very good seats, I must say, but naturally we were farther away. But I was with my Bruce soulmate, and that makes a Bruce concert better right there.
I can note that on Night #2 we got three tour debuts, three other songs that were different from the night before, and one song I'd never seen him perform live. So two shows were indeed better than one (and if the reference isn't getting it for you, I'll add that one of the tour debuts was "Two Hearts"). The best Bruce shows for me always have at least one Holy Shit moment that comes with the first notes of a song I either was hoping for but didn't expect, or just had no idea was coming at all. On Night One it was "Backstreets," not because it was unexpected but because when I hear the opening piano notes of that one, it's always a Holy Shit moment for me. On Night Two, it was the tour debut and (for me) totally unexpected "Racing in the Streets," another song that begins with a few very identifiable piano notes. I'll save the boring setlist-junkie parts for another post, but this was the tenth time I'd seen "Racing in the Streets," so it wasn't exactly obscure. But it was only the third time I'd seen it in the last 27 years, and the first time I'd seen it with the E Street Band in exactly 8 years. It was a majestic version.
I'll throw in a few comments from others, and then I really do have to get some work done. From night one, here's a bit from Joel Selvin's Chronicle review:
[S]omehow, some way, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band still stand for the same things, still shine the same beacon, still stay true to the dream…. the concert … reached the kind of revival meeting furor in which Springsteen has always specialized. A euphoria descended on the crowd, liberally salted with gray hair, and all was right with the world … The Springsteen concert is convocation of shared ideals, not just another rock show.... He has returned to his own artistic core values and, with the now 10-piece E Street Band, he dusts off that old wedding suit like it was only yesterday.
I'm pretty sure most/all of the newspaper reviews will be of the first show, so for another look at Night Two, I'll turn to a regular at rec.music.artists.springsteen, an articulate fellow who sees a LOT of shows on every tour and who is never afraid to state his opinion:
Truly a tremendous show. Probably downright remarkable if we factor in the ages of the performers involved…. The story tonight was all about performance. In a word...smoking. Bruce was on fire, the band was completely locked in, and the crowd was far more revved up as compared to last night…. Bruce had a grin on his face the whole night. He knew they were locked in and he seemed to be enjoying it immensely…. Great stuff.