Saturday, July 15, 2023

Bruce Springsteen // Hyde Park

It’s not often you hear of an artist being at the top of their game at seventy-three years old, yet I don’t think I could find a more appropriate statement to summarise Bruce Springsteen’s performance at Hyde Park this past weekend. 

The New Jersey legend was also joined by his world-famous E Street Band, alongside support from the electrifying country legends The Chicks as well as British chart veteran James Bay. In between the intermittent downpours, The Boss entertained the 65,000-capacity crowd with three hours of the rawest live music we will likely ever have the privilege of listening to.  

Emerging from the shadows of the iconic Great Oak Stage, the near 20-strong E Street Band were greeted with rapturous applause. The electrifying Steven Van Zandt brought up the rear of the band, reminding his fans that he is far more than just the Sopranos mobster we know and love him to be. 

Finally, after an eruption of the fan favourite ‘bruuuuuuce’ chant, the man himself appeared, gracing the stage with arms wide open. Springsteen has a presence which is nothing short of cinematic. 

I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck slowly begin to rise as he eased into his first track, the melancholic ‘My Love Will Not Let You Down.’ While this was somewhat of an intense track to begin an inner-city festival with, it perfectly set the tone for the sonic landscape they were about to unfold. The 28 song set spanned tracks from Springsteen’s entire career, ranging from early hits such as ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ and ‘No Surrender’ to more recent delights ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Last Man Standing.’ The excitement among the members of the crowd was palpable. 

While Bruce certainly held our attention for the duration of the marathon live performance, where the crowd really descended into madness was the latter portion of the evening. Springsteen’s signature ‘Born to Run’ marked the beginning of the encore, bringing a euphoric sense of belonging to the crowd. While there likely were not many audience members chasing the ‘runaway American dream’ Bruce so eloquently was singing about, you can’t help but think about the myriad ways in which this song has spoken to the individuals screaming along with you. 

‘Born to Run’ promptly faded into ‘Bobby Jean’ which then developed into (my personal favourites of the night) ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ The only thought going through my mind for these latter two tracks was, what a time to be alive. The compelling narratives told through these songs were an absolute treat to experience live. 

The gig ended with Bruce’s own rendition of The Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’ - a scathing nod to him being cut off early at his last Hyde Park performance alongside Sir Paul McCartney. While there was a growing sense of sadness among the crowd when we came to the realisation that he was skipping ‘Born in the U.S.A’, Springsteen’s modern Americana take on this Beatles’ hit went down just as well. 

I left this gig with no doubt in my mind as to why this man is repeatedly named the world’s greatest live performer. This was a transcendent summer moment that I will cherish until I next get the opportunity to see Mr Springsteen live again. 

Abbie Cronin


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