While writing my recent review of Springsteen's River show, I got to thinking about the twelve Bruce shows I've seen. My first was October 21, 2005 in Providence, Rhode Island, and my last (as of right now) was August 23, 2009 in Mansfield, Massachusetts. It's been quite the journey, with over 125 different songs played by Springsteen solo, Bruce and the Seeger Sessions Band and the Boss and E Street themselves. So join me, if you will, in reliving the good and the (very mildly) bad from my dozen Bruce Springsteen concerts.
Most played: "Lonesome Day" and "The Rising" at 11 each, "The Promised Land," "Badlands," "Born to Run" and "American Land" at 10. I was very surprised that "Born" wasn't number one with a bullet, but he didn't play it at the solo show or the Seeger show. Unfortunately, he played one of the two Rising tunes at each. It's not an overstatement to say I fucking hate "Lonesome Day" and hope I never, ever hear it again. "American Land" is probably the only one on that list that I've enjoyed each time, although the "lights coming on at the start of 'Born'" thing had me hooked...up until my epic "four shows in eight days" adventure. Now I just wait patiently until it's over.
Biggest surprise: Probably that I've only heard "Waitin' On A Sunny Day" six times. It feels like a hundred. I used to like the Rising songs, I really did, but their replay value is practically zero. I was also very impressed that I've heard "Working On The Highway" and "I'm Goin' Down" three times, "Thundercrack" twice and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" five times. God, I love "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and in the grand scheme of things "Thundercrack" and "I'm Goin'" are extremely rare treats.
Biggest regret: That my musical education was so lacking in 2006, both in Springsteen and in general. The Seeger Sessions show I saw that year featured "Long Black Veil" and "Rag Mama Rag" by The Band (who are now one of my top-five favorite groups of all time), along with "My City of Ruins" and "Ramrod." I never heard any of those songs again. God damn it, 2006 version of me.
Worst realization: How fucking repetitive so many of the Working on a Dream shows really were. "Outlaw Pete" six times, "Working on a Dream" six times, "Johnny 99" six times, "Raise Your Hand" five times, "Hard Times" five times, "Seeds" five times, "Land of Hope and Dreams" four times, "Kingdom of Days" four times. Jesus. Before this tour, I honestly believed that each Springsteen show was a different experience. I used this as a constant defense when people bashed my outrageous show-attendance schedule. Now I realize that I was just an idiot who totally wasted a good amount of his disposable income in 2009. Bah.
Thank God I heard: "So Young and In Love," the aforementioned Band tunes (I like to think I enjoyed them, even when I didn't know what they were), "The Ties That Bind" (twice!), "Kitty's Back" (thrice!), two "Jungleland"'s and three "Rosalita"'s. No Springsteen fan's collection is complete without those two.
Covers!: "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide," "I Wanna Be Sedated," "Trapped," "Seven Nights to Rock," "You Can't Sit Down," "Detroit Medley," "London Calling," "Burning Love," "You Never Can Tell," "Hang On Sloopy." Besides the full albums (which, of course, I never got to hear), the best part of the Working on a Dream tour.
Bookends: Heard "The River" at my first Providence show and my last Mansfield show. Not my favorite tune in the world, probably not even in my top 50, but hey, there must be some symbolism there. If you find it, let me know.