Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band played the Apollo (review, video, setlist & a few pics)
by Andrew Frisicano
Bruce Sprinsteen @ the Apollo (Springsteen.net)
For those who were lucky enough to get tickets (a mix of celebrities, press and SiriusXM staff and subscribers), the show was a chance to see the E Street band play a two-plus-hour set in a venue a fraction the size of its upcoming stadium shows. Their show on Friday, March 9th included a couple of firsts for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The gig a private show hosted by SiriusXM Radio and streamed on their E Street Radio channel (which BrooklynVegan Blog Radio host Nick Masi also hosts a show on), was their first at the Apollo Theatre. It was also the first full show with new sax player Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew. The presence of the recently-departed Clarence and that of the stage’s past stars were felt throughout the night. Those touches added some weight to the event, which otherwise focused on prepping the band for their tour behind the new, somewhat uneven Wrecking Ball.
The show started with a nod to James Brown’s Live at the Apollo, with a version of its opening fanfare delivered by Springsteen (who called himself “the hardest working white man in show business”). Before the end of the night the band further paid tribute to the Apollo’s legends by playing the Smokey Robinson-penned Temptations song “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” Wilson Pickett single “634-5789″ and Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin.'” For the latter, the last song of the night, Bruce kneeled down while Steven Van Zandt draped a black towel over his shoulder and began to lead him off stage a la Brown’s legendary cape routine. Bruce rushed back to the center to sing a few more rousing bars.
During “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” which began as an a cappella number that brought the group’s numerous backup singers to the front of the stage, Bruce flubbed a cue, which he joked about, clearly embarrassed, remarking “Aw I fucked it up.” That segued into “634-5789,” during which the boss ventured into the theater’s boxes and balcony (video below).
Bruce Sprinsteen @ the Apollo (ChuckGarfien)
Being a warmup show for the Wrecking Ball tour, and promotional show for the album, the set was naturally heavy on songs from that record. Some, like the title track “We Take Care of Our Own,” and the Irish-inflected “Death to My Hometown,” sounded quite good, with a shimmery Stax-like horn sound. Others–“Jack of All Trades,” “Shackled and Drawn”–were patiently weathered by the crowd. But the vintage Bruce morsels were worth the wait: Darkness on the Edge of Town highlights “Badlands” and “Promised Land” and Born to Run classics “Thunder Road” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” (sadly, the fever pitch highs of some of those songs were also accompanied by crippling feedback).
Personally, the highlight for me was “Mansion on the Hill,” a quiet song off Nebraska, which Bruce fingerpicked, harmonizing with wife Patti Scialfa (Soozie Tyrell added some violin color, too).
Bruce stopped several times to shout out Clarence, beckoning the crowd to cheer the missing member during a roll call. Again at the end, he called for cheers after stopping “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” after the line “When the change was made uptown/And the Big Man joined the band.”
He also joked about his recent Fallon performance, remarking “This is our first non-televised gig. Wiggle wiggle wiggle.”
The band has another tour warm-up show in Austin next week at SXSW, where Bruce will give the keynote speech which you’ll be able to stream online. They’re back in the NYC area for shows at the Izod Center and MSG starting on April 3rd (and another at Newark’s Prudential Center on May 2nd).
Videos from the show, including Bruce venturing into the theater’s balcony, and the set list are below…
Bruce Sprinsteen @ the Apollo (fotinaki)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – “We Take Care of Our Own”/”Wrecking Ball”
Bruce Springsteen – “Death To My Hometown”
Bruce Springsteen – “The Way You Do The Thing You Do” – Apollo theater 3-9-2012
We Take Care of Our Own
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
The E Street Shuffle
Jack of All Trades
Shackled and Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
Mansion on the Hill
The Way You Do The Things You Do
We Are Alive
Land of Hope and Dreams
Tenth Avenue Freeze Out
Hold On I’m Comin’