Bruce Springsteen, Hunters & Collectors Live Review

Brief live review of Hunters and Collectors and Bruce Springsteen in Melbourne.

Author:  Bryget Chrisfield,

Date: 15 February 2014.

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Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, Hunters & Collectors
15 February, 2014

As we settle into our seats, a middle-aged dude wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt scales the stairs – he probably wore it to the last gig he went to (while at uni, of course). Mark Seymour opens with a simple, “G’day,” and then it’s straight into Talking To A Stranger. What a bassline! The Horns Of Contempt – whether in plaintive or aggressive mode – are commanding as ever. There’s something so raw and menacing about Hunters & Collectors’ distinctive sound and the quality of the sound mix is astonishing during Do You See What I See? This Morning’s structure darts about like a rabbit dodging gunfire. Seymour’s lyrics are so evocative that it’s like peering into that bedroom window in St Kilda and watching as the scene unfolds. Say Goodbye sounds just as vibrant the day it was written. Hunners were ridiculously ahead of their time.

Watching Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder share a microphone during their opening rendition of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell makes their late arrival onstage redundant. It’s so difficult to keep things secret these days that such rock’n’roll surprises are doubly effective. The energy inside the Stadium threatens lift-off. Springsteen still looks fit and his smile exudes contagious joy. Raspiness in his vocal is always welcome. New album title track High Hopes live really takes you there and Morello takes his guitar solo with his teeth. Seriously, with the banner requests: as IF he’s not gonna play Glory Days!? Just Like Fire Would – Springsteen’s tribute to The Saints – ignites. Jole Blon is a suitably obscure banner request and a track that Springsteen obviously enjoys playing. It’s pretty fun eating a hot dog while dancing to Hungry Heart. Springsteen is so spontaneously generous with his musicians and constantly beckons them towards him to share in his spotlight.

The Boss is back and he’s committed to rewarding fans that caught his Australian tour just shy of a year ago with a completely fresh experience. Announcing eight songs in that they’ll now perform Born In The USA in full, as they have already done a few times over in the States, is a genius way of injecting surprise into an already unparalleled live experience. As the giant screens zoom in on some more banners, several are just requests from girls who wish to make like Courteney Cox and be invited up onstage to dance with “Broooooooce”. Tonight’s winner comes courtesy of a punter pimping out her mum via banner: “For Goodness Sake, Bruce, Please Dance With My Mum.” Mum’s rock’n’roll dreams come true during Dancing In The Dark. Cover Me is a welcome inclusion from this album-in-full segment. Tom Morello’s guitar solo in The Ghost Of Tom Joad sees audience members all googly eyed in appreciation, but the song is otherwise marred by Morello and Springsteen’s voices not gelling through the closing choruses. The chemistry between Springsteen and his OG guitarist Steve Van Zandt can’t be replicated, goofy expression-offs and all.

Three-and-a-half hours always seems like a ridiculously long amount of time to appreciate the same artist onstage but, before we know it, it’s encore time and Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) is welcome. Springsteen’s cover of Seven Nights to Rock by Moon Mullican is all rockin’ goodness and Springsteen has some fun pointing to (read: flirting with) individual ladies in the front rows. We probably could’ve done without the fromage of Shout, but Springsteen redeems himself with a solo rendition of Thunder Road. Springsteen live is next level. Whether or not you’re religious, the church is in session and your spirit gets an extra massage. And if that sounds wanky, you’ve never seen Springsteen live; he truly is the battler’s prophet.