FIRST PERSON: Report from Springsteen in Oslo, Night 2
Editor’s note: Friend of Blogness Graeme Johannessen was nice enough to share his impressions of Springsteen’s second show in Oslo April 30, which he says far outstripped the first. His account follows:
On night one in Oslo, we had the utterly unexpected in the shape of Little Steven crooning My Kind of Town to us to open the concert (that is if you don’t count the four song warm up by Bruce himself – which was as amazing as it was surprising). The show itself, for whatever reason (Monday night, second concert of the two to go on sale, workday tomorrow, crappy arena or taciturn Norwegians) while spectacular, failed to reach the absolutely epic heights that we all know Bruce and the band are capable of reaching.
So, on to night 2, the first to go on sale. The alchemy, the chemistry, the sheer transference of energy between Bruce at his peak and crowd at their peak happened.
Of the first 16 songs, we had 11 changes from the night before, the only remaining songs being We take care of our own, Wrecking Ball, Spirit and Death to my Hometown. As a statement of intent it could hardly be bettered. From the opener, Leap of Faith to The Promised Land, the omens of a great evening were there if you chose to listen.
Of the opening five-pack, Promised land and Downbound Train stood out as a harbinger of what to expect later on, with Leap of Faith being a welcome airing for a song heard far too rarely these days. Spirit was notable for the outstanding vocal contribution from a young lady in the crowd that seemed to take even Bruce aback. I suppose it had to happen. After all these years he finally found a crowd member that could sing!
Fittingly, the real magic happened during Saving Up, as if Bruce, the band and the crowd discovered that they had, well, been saving up. An absolutely fantastic version of the song that Bruce and the band really seemed to enjoy.
From there we moved in to the “dark” section of the show with Atlantic CIty, Murder Inc. and Johnny 99, all nailed, all powerful and all delivered with an intent and a menace that characterizes the very best shows. Nils in particular was outstanding on Murder Inc., and the band really shone with desperation, hard times and workmanship on Atlantic City.
The Norwegian asses were still on the Norwegian seats however. This had to be remedied, and taking the place of Pay Me My Money Down from the night before was Open All Night. Again, a small(ish) change from the night before but as all the changes so far, it helped to ratchet up the energy even more. “In 90 seconds from now….no not yet…in 90 seconds from now…your ass is going to talk to your brain.”
From there on to a more “standard” part of the set – Shackled and Drawn, Waiting on a Sunny Day and The Rising all did their part to keep the momentum at a high level, and then Badlands. Wow. As an opener or early number, it’s great. It always will be – but late in the show, when the energy is already high, well that’s a different story. It rocked, it had the crowd not just out of their seats but jumping. Several seat holders were even seen scaling the barriers to get on to the GA floor and no-one seemed to care. It was that good.
(A small aside here, and one that will resonate I’m sure.) At this point in proceedings a strange thing happened. The 3 teenagers next to me who throughout had looked about as happy as someone waiting for a particularly nasty dentist’s appointment, decided to leave, pronouncing it “boring.” I don’t know what they were expecting, Justin Bieber maybe? Anyway, good riddance. The remaining 22,997 of us stayed on and witnessed an absolutely barnstorming end to the show.
Land of Hope and Dreams. The Promise, Born in the USA, Born to Run, Ramrod, Dancing in the Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. It was clear that we weren’t going to be let off lightly here. Not that we wanted to get off lightly either!
To cap it all, Shout. The lights had been on since Born to Run, and the crowd responded brilliantly. We were dismissed into the night knowing that this was one for the ages.
Saving up indeed. We were spent. Thank you Bruce!