Broooooce at the Emirates

First Night Review:

The last time I saw Bruce Springsteen, at the O2 last December, he played one of the best set lists for many, many years (Racing in the Street and Jungleland – aaargh) – and I like to think it was just because I was there. Could he beat that this time? Obviously not, but he had a very good go. From the opener, Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, to the extent of the set list, this was a remarkable effort. Tenth Avenue is a stormer to open a show with, but apart from a single appearance a few weeks ago in the US, this was the first time he’d opened with that song since 1978. And oh joy – we also got Atlantic City and Candy’s Room in a glorious first half.

Of course, not everything can be perfect. I think this was the first time Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London had been used for a rock gig, and even when they’ve had a lot of practice there, it’ll still be a desperately ordinary venue, sonically. On its first night, the sound was dire at times, especially up in the seats. We were rather spoiled at the O2. Although the photo above makes the place look empty, I reckon by kick-off, if you put the people on the pitch up in the seats, the ground would be fairly full, so there must have been over 40,000 there – but I’d be interested to know if there’s an official figure.

The gig just went on and on (and in a good way). It meandered a bit for the second half of the main set, although Point Blank (from The River) got a lot of diehards excited. But just when everyone thought the length of the main show would mean a fairly short encore, Bruce pulled out a six-song epic closing set, making this one of the longest shows (28 songs) in memory. And you really felt, as is so often the case with Bruce, that he could have gone on longer, and would have enjoyed it. That’s what makes his gigs so special, I guess.

The reviews will be full of really awful football puns and similes, mainly from writers who don’t know much about football, making them even worse. Prepare for some groans. For example, let’s see how many people modify The Times’ Old Trafford review (“For one night only at Old Trafford, The Boss wasn’t a gum-chewing Scotsman pondering how to get the best out of Wayne Rooney”) and drag out an Arsene Wenger-related reference instead. All contributions you spot will be gratefully accepted below. We thought up our own in advance, and although I liked “The Big Man rises to the challenge of the sax solo like an unmarked Emmanuel Adebayor”, top marks go to my mate Ian for “Meet me tonight in Thomas Rosicky” – genius.

Full set list | As it unfolded

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