Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band set Houston on fire this past Tuesday night as they rocked late into the evening at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. It’s been five long years since Springsteen and the gang came to the Toyota Center on the Working on a Dream Tour, and thousands of loyal fans sold out the Pavilion to welcome them back. Springsteen, who is known for his incredible, marathon-long concerts, did not disappoint, with a 2 hour and 57 minute setlist that covered songs from his first album, Greetings from Ashbury Park, to his brand new album High Hopes, which had been released this past January. High Hopes has been Springsteen’s eleventh number one album, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time and arguably one of the most influential musicians of rock and roll.
Springsteen, who is sixty-four years old, didn’t look a day over thirty as he effortlessly jumped from song to song slaying his guitar alongside newly installed E Street Band member Tom Morello, former guitarist for influential rap rock band Rage Against the Machine. It’s questionable how the city of the Woodlands slept that Tuesday night, as Max Weinberg hammered the drums and Jake Clemons wailed on the saxophone. This has been the first show in Houston that Springsteen and the band have played without late saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who has been replaced by his nephew Jake Clemons. The crowds went wild when Clemons nailed the saxophone parts in fan favorite songs such as “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”
Supposedly, there was a pre-planned set list that Springsteen was going to follow, but that went out the window after the first three songs. Springsteen began to take signs from the crowd with song requests, which is an old tradition from his previous tours. Die-hard fans asked for songs from the beginning of Springsteen’s career, such as “One Step” (which hadn’t been played since 1988 before this concert), “She’s the One”, and “Adam Raised a Cain.” Yet the most memorable request came from two brothers in their late teen’s early twenties, who requested fan favorite “No Surrender” from Springsteen’s blockbuster album “Born in the U.S.A.” Springsteen, who was apparently moved by the creative sign, called the two brothers on stage. The crowd watched in awe and slight envy as the ecstatic duo climbed on stage and shared the mic with Springsteen. The two brothers belted out “No Surrender” perfectly as the crowd went wild with encouragement while Springsteen watched with a smile on his face. Later in the show, the band played the Top 40 hit, “Dancing in the Dark” which turned into an epic crowd sing-a-long. During the song, Springsteen pulled a woman from the crowd to dance on stage, reenacting the famous MTV music video from the 80’s which featured Springsteen at a concert pulling a young Courteney Cox on stage.
Overall, the concert throbbed with energy and rock and roll as Springsteen and the band delivered one of the best concerts in recent memory. The spirit from Springsteen’s most recent gig, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, was definitely felt throughout the Pavilion last Tuesday night, as every person present felt the rhythm and passion from band. With all the sold out tours, chart-topping albums, and passionate concerts, it’s hard to believe that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were just a bunch of dreamers from New Jersey hoping to get a record deal.