Review: Bruce Springsteen, Hampden - an epic marathon!

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016
Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

It’s three hours plus since he hit the stage, and Bruce Springsteen ain’t finished yet.

He teases a rollicking rendition of ‘Shout’ to something like 11 minutes of call and response, pausing only to yell ‘’I’m just a prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll!’’ as he pushed himself, his band and 55,000 sun-baked fans to the point of exhilaration and exhaustion.

It was the now traditional finale to a quite remarkable show; one that eclipsed his magnificent performance at the same Hampden in 2013.

What started out as a tour to reprise The River in full has now become more akin to a jukebox show with Springsteen chucking in a few dimes, hitting ‘random shuffle’ - and then powering through whatever it throws out.

In truth, it’s a set so honed to perfection it’s capable of adapting to any change on a whim without so much as missing a beat, but despite that it still feels completely spontaneous, and utterly joyful.

There are delights and surprises on any given night for fans who’ve seen him many, many times over.

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

Once again he played with his 34-song set list, coming up with rarely heard gems - ‘Sandy’ (much easier to write on a poster than ‘4th of July, Asbury Park’ and it worked for the fan who said it was her wedding song!), and favourites such as ‘‘Rosalita’ which simply sparkled with life.

We got everything from his ‘73 debut ‘Greetings from Asbury Park’ to his ‘Wrecking Ball’ album mixed with the very best from ‘Born To Run/Born In the USA’ - a rare outing for the latter’s title track too.

With the sun beating down on Hampden, Springsteen opened with the feel-good ‘Waiting On A Sunny Day’ - a pitch-perfect starting point - before rewinding to a celebratory ‘Spirit In The Night’ and then a thundering ‘My Love Will Not Let You Down.’

Suitably warmed up, it was into The River - six tracks of eight tracks in total, but still no Independence Day or Drive All Night, two of the album’s cornerstones.

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

Who knows, he may yet chuck ‘em back in at Coventry on London - but the set, whatever shape or form it takes, is so beautifully knitted together it’s hard to see where they’d fit in unless he stretches to a four-hour marathon.

From 6.45 p.m. until well after ten o’clock he powered through song after song after song, stopping only to count the next one in.

Springsteen and all his E Street players also covered more of Hampden than some footballers manage on cup final day as they headed into the vast walkways that led deep into the wings, and popped up mid-crowd on small platforms. That rapport and sense of access transformed this brick-built bowl into the most intimate of venues for anyone standing pitchside. One minute you were watching him on the big screen,and the next he was barely 15 feet in front of you.

As the sun set he slowed the pace for a darker Point Blank and a towering rendition of The River before spitting out every single word of Darkness On The Edge of Town.

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

Bruce Springsteen, Hampden Park - June 2016

There was a gritty Johnny 99, and a compelling 41 Shots before Nils Lofgren tore Because The Night to shreds with a guitar solo that just left you wondering how the hell he does that while spinning like a top on one leg.

File this entire night on E Street under ‘e’ - for epic.

>> Set list:

Waiting On A Sunny Day; Spirit in the Night; My Love Will Not Let You Down; The Ties That Bind; Sherry Darling; Two Hearts; Rosalita; 4TH July, Asbury Park (Sandy); Hungry Heart; Out In The Street; Lonesome Day; You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch); Death To My Hometown; American Skin (41 Shots); Murder Inc; 16. I’m Goin Down; Johnny 99; The River;. Point Blank; Darkness On The Edge Of Town; The Promised Land; Working On The Highway;3. Darlington County; Because The Night; The Rising; Thunder Road;. Badlands;. Born in the USA;. Born To Run; Glory Days; Dancing in the Dark; Tenth Avenue Freeze Out;. Shout; This Hard Land