With social distancing putting a hold on live events, I am talking a walk down memory lane to reflect on the 10 most memorable concerts I have seen. This is not a list of the ten best shows, but rather the ones that have left the most indelible memories.
The bond between Bruce Springsteen and Philadelphia is tried and true. The Boss cut his teeth as a performer in small clubs around Philly and has been a bankable concert experience for decades. On March 28, 2012, he regaled the City of Brotherly Love yet again, albeit with a few thousand more fans than he would have at the Main Point.
The Wells Fargo Center was packed to the gills for yet another Bruce Springsteen show in Philadelphia. The tour was in support of Wrecking Ball, his first album since the death of Clarence Clemons in 2011. After opening with “We Take Care Of Our Own,” he launched into the album’s title track.
The homage to Giants Stadium drew boos on the line “Now my home’s here in these Meadowlands, where mosquitoes grow big as airplanes. Here where the blood is spilled, the arena’s filled, and Giants played the games.”
As the derision rained down from the rafters, he expertly slid back from the mic until the boos subsided. It wasn’t his first rodeo in Philly and he was reveling in the familiarity. It was a little moment, but one that showed Springsteen’s ease with performing in Philly.
The entire show was a love fest. A tribute to Clemons and a run of hits like “Born To Run” and “Dancing In the Dark” gave the audience its money’s worth. A mid-show crowd surf turned out to not be the only improbable trick the Boss had up his sleeve.
Midway through a cover of Eddie Floyd’s “Raise Your Hand,” Springsteen walking through the lower bowl of the Wells Fargo Center. He plowed his way across seats until, in quintessential James Brown form, he sat down in “exhaustion.”
Despite being sections away, the maestro stopped the E-Street Orchestra and accepted a beer offered by a stranger. He took a sip and stood up to toast the crowd. In typical Boss fashion, he chugged the beer, flipped the cup into the crowd, and kicked off the rest of Floyd’s hit.
In an age where the gap between superstars and fans has grown more distant, the moment was both casual and forever. No rock and roll hall of famers risk a tour on being able to safely meander through the adoring throngs. It was a small thing, but the little gesture is why people flock to see the spiritual experience that is a Springsteen concert. Even a casual beer wrote one more chapter of the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, E-Street Band’s career as one of the most memorable live acts anyone could witness.