When Bruce announced this tour I was excited to hear the band was heading out on the road so soon, but when I heard they would be playing all of "The River" in order in its entirety at every stop, I really had to think about getting tickets. I would say I'm a more than average Springsteen fan. I know and love a lot more than the singles, but I for instance am not buying the deluxe box sets with the dozens (hundreds?) of previously unreleased songs and I'm gonna say it...I don't LOVE "The River." I think it's a good album, hell a really good album with some great songs I do love, but it's not nearly my fave Springsteen album (that would be "Darkness On The Edge of Town" which I did get to see in its entirety at Giant's Stadium on October 2, 2009). So did I want to see a show where 20 of the probably 30 to 35 (on a good night) songs would be a bunch that weren't my faves...and then what were the chances of hearing others I really wanted to hear...would this be a tour more for the true diehards with lots of outtakes from The River sessions to fill in the set?
Well common sense told me to go for it and I scored 4 tickets straight back from the stage about ten rows from the top, but Times Union Center is small for an arena and the straight on view was great...as was the set list.
I'm a total set list watcher and this was the eighth show of the tour and this is what we knew from the previous seven going in:
- Every show opens with the great rockin "Meet Me In The City" which actually is one of the outtakes I spoke of above from the new River collection.
- Then you get the 20 songs from "The River"
- Then you usually get seven songs (eight at one show), a super quick "encore break" (I wouldn't even call it a break in Albany, it was just Bruce doing an announcement, but maybe it's been longer at other shows), then four to six more tunes.
- So after the standard 21 song opening to start the show, there has never been less than 11 and never more than 13 additional songs where you hope to hear the say 25 songs you've narrowed it down to that you're really dying to hear.
Now of those remaning 11 to 13 the following had been played at every show...and were in Albany as well:
- Born To Run - I'll always take it and want to hear it
- Thunder Road - ditto above
- Dancing In The Dark - I could totally do without this, but the Albany version was actually the best live version I've ever seen
- Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) - again always good
- Shout (The Isley Brothers cover) - A cool fun way to end the show
- The Rising - I like it, but I could name so many other classics I'd rather hear
Which leaves only five to seven other songs in the set. At 4 of the seven shows these three were played so we knew there was a good chance we'd get them and we got them all in Albany:
- Because the Night - Totally dig it
- Wrecking Ball - This is simply a toe tapper for me. I don't dislike it, but never need to see it on a setlist
- Badlands - LOVE
So assuming I would hear all 30 of the above songs, this left only two to four remaining slots for all the other classics I would have loved to hear. I really hoped for "Candy's Room" which is my all time fave (and thankfully I've been lucky enough to catch it quite a few times prior) and thought I had a good shot. It was played at three of the seven shows prior to Albany, but it was not to be. We did get the full 34 song setlist though and the remaining four were:
- Backstreets - great
- Be True - first time played on tour, I could have done without
- Bobby Jean - I don't mind, I don't love
- Detroit Medley - a sign request from the front and always awesome
Well shit...now you know what was played, but not what order and I haven't even talked about getting in yet, so let me fill you in so you can go enjoy the photos and the videos.
I took both my sisters to this one along with my future brother in law. My older sister has been to three other Springsteen shows with me, the last one being the aforementioned "Darkness" show at Giant's Stadium while my younger sister and her fella had never seen the Boss before. All were duly impressed.
We got up to Albany just before five just as the first snow flakes were falling. Not sure anyone expected snow, but in the end it wasn't too bad, maybe an inch fell from the time we parked til the time the show ended at 11:30pm on the dot.
There has to be a ton of bars in Albany, but on the main street the arena is on all we found was Jonathan's Pizza Bar which worked...it's Pizza...it's a Bar...they played Springsteen non stop. We ate and drank for a couple of hours and started walking back to the arena right about 7:00pm.
The tickets said 7:30 and I had my camera with me. It's got a super zoom built in, so it's not one you can sneak in and I was hoping to get it in so I'd have some shots to share. Normally you can bring in a camera as long as the lens can't be removed, but about two months ago I heard Times Union put out a release saying absolutely no cameras at all. So the plan was we go and see if security is enforcing that and if they turn us away, I'd just drop it off at the car.
So we get to the entrance and there's stairs and escalators up to the second level and it's just totally packed and backed up with hundreds of people barely moving. This was not good as it was now looking like it would take a half hour to get in and if I needed to then go put it back in the car, I would have to somehow fight against the crowd down the stairs.
So we're just about at the top of the stairs where the real mob is gathered to go through security and we look over at the glass doors to exit the arena and there's no security by them. They just say "No Entrance" but a few brave souls who don't want to wait walk up, try them and walk right in.
So did the dudes in front of us...so did we.
I've been to this arena a ton of times and I don't know what was going on with security...of lack of.
You know how at every section there's always an usher to check your tix if you need help. On the whole second level we counted three ushers. It was so odd, but perfect for getting in a camera. I have a feeling the massive backup was caused by whatever new security methods they have to get in, but still you would think that wouldn't affect the security/ushers at each section...or at every exit where you can simply pull the door open from the outside...but anyhoo
We're in and seated by 7:30. The show started about 8:10 or 8:15 and ended exactly at 11:30 so a nice long three hour plus show and here's the actual order of the songs
- Meet Me In The City
- "The River" Full Album
- Wrecking Ball
- Be True (First time played on this tour)
- Because The Night
- The Rising
- Thunder Road
- Born to Run
- Detroit Medley
- Dancing In The Dark
- Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
- Bobby Jean
- Shout (Isley Brothers)
I guess the only thing I didn't talk about was the actual performance of "The River".
Well the "hits" off it are a blast (at least what I consider the "hits" or songs you'll hear on the radio: "Sherry Darling" "Cadillac Ranch" "Out in the Street" and of course "Hungry Heart"). Hungry Heart saw Bruce venture into audience (which he also did for "I'm a Rocker") and then saw him crowd surf back to the stage - as you can see from the photos rather enjoying himself.
The rockers on the album of course had the folks a rockin and then there's the emotional heart of The River, which includes the title track and songs like "Independence Day", but the real standout of the performance is "Drive All Night" - a stunning highlight of the whole show.
Bruce would share thoughts behind the songs every four or so and introduced the album as his transition from the underground to embracing the mainstream and really hitting home on the themes of youth and age and time and their effects on hopes and dreams and love. Prior to seeing the show, I had almost felt it described as a "Storytellers" setting where he talked after almost every song, perhaps at other shows he has, but it was just the right mix of music/commentary to give you the feel for what the creative process behind the album was without wrecking any of the natural flow of the songs which should be played together uninterrupted.
So that's about it. I dug it and I hope in two years the full band is back at it again. Until then enjoy the photos and videos. Click on any photo to supersize it.
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