Review: Bruce Springsteen - The River & the rain at the Etihad

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Etihad Stadium

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 10:06 am
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2016, 12:02 pm

It never stopped raining from before the gates opened until the last fans had made the long trek on foot back into the city centre.

In hotels across Manchester, bedraggled fans grabbed a beer and reflected on a gig that was a tour de force; Springsteen at his very, very best. Three hours plus on stage with barely a pause for breath.

A tour that started out revisiting The River is now much, much more.

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He rattled of Atlantic City, Murder Incorporated and a bristling Badlands before signalling the return to his ‘81 album.

We effectively got sides one and two of the double album up to Point Blank, interspersed with some stand out tracks from his back catalogue, and the whole set just zinged from song to song with barely a nod to the band to keep the tempo going.

The Ties That Bind, Sherry Darling and Two Hearts were reeled off before a detour into the unexpected.

Spotting a fan dressed in a Santa outfit holding a placard which said ‘Santa is In Manchester’ he beckoned him on stage. As the rain fell, the sound of sleigh bells rang out and 55,000 people sang the Christmas classic, laughing in disbelief as much as the man himself.

It was the first of several surprises as he played with his set list, - Darkness On The Edge of Town split River tracks Out In The Street and Crush On You, while a gritty Johnny 99 kick-started a selection from Born In The USA.

Because The Night had Nils Lofgren delivering a blistering guitar solo while spinning one legged in circles before Springsteen switches to The Rising, building it layer by layer and then into Thunder Road and a home straight that was simply classic after classic.

By then he’d clocked up three hours on stage and still had time for Shout which he teased out to more than seven minutes of call and response with his audience.

There was still time for a celebratory Bobby Jean and a solo This Hard Land before finally taking his bow.

Pre-gig the stewards were saying there was an interval. There was none. The man, and the band, don’t stop for anyone.

The River tour rolls into Glasgow on Wednesday. Minus the rain, but with all the magic from Manchester ...