July 6, 2023
BST Hyde Park, London
Holding a crowd for 90 minutes is challenging enough for some artists, but for Bruce Springsteen it’s (quite literally) a stroll in the park – as he proved with a storming three-hour set in London on Thursday night.
The legendary musician is playing two dates in the capital (he’ll return on Saturday, July 8 to do it all again), and taking to the stage at 7pm sharp with the classic ‘Born In The U.S.A.’ track No Surrender, the 73-year-old rocker proved he’s still firing on all cylinders.
“Hello, London!” Springsteen announced, before driving into a run of decades-spanning tracks, with classics like Prove It All Night, Out In The Street and My Hometown interspersed with more recent cuts such as Ghosts, Wrecking Ball and Letter To You.
Alongside singles from across eras, concert staples such as Darlington County and the lively Working On The Highway proved crowd pleasers, with the veteran performer every inch the showman, stepping down to take selfies with the pumped-up crowd and even offering his mouth organ to a young fan close to the barrier.
Backed by the 18-strong E. Street Band, which included guitarist Steven Van Zandt and saxophone player Jake Clemons – son of original member Clarence Clemons – the 28-song set also offered stellar cover performances of The Commodores’ Nightshift and Because The Night, co-written with Patti Smith.
Two hours in, Springsteen slowed the set down for a heartfelt introduction to Last Man Standing and Backstreets, which he dedicated to his friend and original bandmate from The Castiles, George Theiss, with whom he played music at just 15 years old.
Having sadly lost Theiss to cancer just five years ago, he told the silent crowd: “Be good to yourself and those around you.”
In rounding out the evening, he ended the main set with Thunder Road before going all-out with an epic run of rock classics, launching with the iconic Born In The U.S.A. and encompassing Born To Run, Bobby Jean, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, with the raucous crowd dancing and singing along to every word.
Returning for a second and final encore, it was an acoustic rendition of the haunting I’ll See You In My Dreams that brought the evening to a close, serving as a reminder that whether backed by the finest musicians in the business or alone with a guitar centre stage, after 50 years Springsteen remains the master of his craft.
Before his last offering of the night, the rocker joked, “We’re just getting warmed up,” and while there are rumours this may be his final tour, with an unfaltering energy, a seamless command over the 65,000-strong audience and a twinkle in his eye throughout, The Boss showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.