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Bruce Springsteen
There are 18 people on the stage, playing fiddles and accordions, trombones, guitars and pedal steel. There's a bloke with a tuba-type contraption that might be called a sousaphone. They're all grinning broadly and playing this rollicking party music like it's 1949.

Funny old Bruce Springsteen, eh? One moment he's the conscience of America, lost in the desert or maybe stepping over the city ruins, worrying his heart out. Next thing he's having a royal laugh with a massive band, getting giddy on the gospel, the Dixieland jazz, the western swing and the jump jive.

Somewhere in this current mix are the songs and the sentiments of Peter Seeger, who used his music to rage against the corporate world, many decades ago. And granted, Bruce will sing about dust bowls, outlaws and far-away mansions. Near the end, he will resurrect the ghosts of the Civil Rights movement with 'We Shall Overcome', a song that also impacted on Ireland, big style. Tonight it sounds especially eerie.  

But Bruce is also finding his rapture in the music and this fantastically versatile band. Most of the styles he's playing tonight pre-date rock and roll. And his own songs such as 'Atlantic City' or the 1972 track 'For You' are transported back to another age and style. What he finds there is optimism and a sense of community, a hope that things could be improved with collective action.

This year long adventure with his big band is coming to a close now. That's another reason to push it out tonight, to share vocal lines with Patti his wife, to sing 'The River' like a lonesome air, and to follow 'Jacob's Ladder' higher and higher again, until this building can barely contain it all. He's had a dream, and typically, Springsteen has generously shared it with us all.

Stuart Bailie
Photo by Stuart Bailie

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Gig Details
Venue: The Odyssey Arena
Location: Belfast
Date: 21/11/2006


Verdict
9/10


Related Links
+ Bruce Springsteen: Official site