Marking a celebratory but at the same time melancholy occasion, Bruce Springsteen’s Magic Tour formally concluded earlier this week in Kansas City. The tour began in Hartford, Connecticut in October 2007, and saw the band criss-cross the country twice, as well as make two jaunts across the pond into Europe. While the tour was a triumph – I saw them twice, and can attest to the fact that the band sounded better and stronger than ever – there was also tragedy along the way, with the loss in April of Danny Federici to melanoma.
The boys in the band aren’t getting younger, so with each passing E Street Band tour, the likelihood that this one will be the last increases. Of course, people have been saying that about the Stones since 1978, but consider: there were three years between the Reunion Tour and The Rising Tour, and nearly five years between that tour and the current one. Since the turn of the century, Bruce has demonstrated a desire to stretch out, following The Rising with an album of near-solo material (Devils and Dust), and following that with something completely out of left field, The Seeger Sessions (complete with full band tour). So who knows how long it will be before we see another E-Street Band album. I’ll be optimistic and say four years, but even then you’d be confronted with what my son would probably call “Old Guy-Palooza.” Would they still be up to it? Hard to say.
On the last leg of the Magic Tour, Bruce and the band played as if it were a valedictory. Songs that hadn’t popped up on the setlist for years started showing up, and the setlists varied widely from night to night (buoyed by Bruce’s new habit of plucking home-made request signs out of the audience). The second year of a Springsteen tour is always less rigid in the setlist than the beginning, but this time around he took that tendency to new extremes. In the last month of shows alone, the band played the following:
Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart
Held Up Without A Gun
Pretty Flamingo (a staple of early to mid-1970s shows)
Blinded By The Light
Little Latin Lupe Lu (I actually saw him play this once, in 1988)
You Can’t Sit Down
Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)
Stand On It (saw him play this, in 1984)
Crush On You (he hadn’t played this since the first year of The River tour, and referred to it as “the worst song we ever put on vinyl.”)
Part Man, Part Monkey (saw this one in 1988)
Seven Nights to Rock
the “Mona” and “Not Fade Away” intros to She’s the One
I Fought the Law
Then She Kissed Me (I had a great version of this on a bootleg tape I had back in the early 80s, but the damn thing gave up the ghost)
Mountain of Love
Ricky Wants A Man of Her Own
Boys (Max Weinberg singing lead!)
I’m hoping against hope that this wasn’t the end, and that in a few years time I’ll be poised at my computer at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, hoping against hope that this time will be the time I actually am able to score floor tickets. But if not, then the last month, as well as the entire Magic tour, was a pretty damn fine way to go out.