The phenomenal concerts from the last few days of the European tour were a clear indication that Bruce would offer something special for the tour’s finale. Since that initial date in Seville last May 13th, he’s given 33 concerts in Europe, and his farewell in Helsinki exceeded all expectations. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band broke the mythical four-hour barrier, playing for 4 hours and 6 minutes, breaking his own record and doing his longest show ever. Furthermore, at 6:30pm (hour and a half before the official showtime), and with only a third of the audience in the stadium, Bruce showed up on stage with an acoustic guitar to give an unexpected 30-minute acoustic performance (which included tour premieres and rarities such as “I’ll Work For Your Love,” “Leap of Faith”, “No Surrender”, “For You” and “Blinded by The Light”).
It was a pure act of gratitude for his loyal fans. After the acoustic mini-set Bruce walked down to the front row of the pit and spent about ten minutes shaking hands, chatting with his fans and collecting signs with requests, then went onstage again to thank everybody and say goodbye. If we add this acoustic show it adds up to a monumental 4 hours and 36 minutes of live performance in Helsinki.
But as we know a Bruce show it’s not just about lenght. His secret lies in the intensity and quality of his performance, and in that he did not fail in Helsinki. It was superlative. The ‘regular’ show began with “Rockin ‘All Over The World”, the John Fogerty tune that has often served as show-closer, followed here by the energy of “Night” and the always effective “Out in the Street”, plus two gems: “Loose Ends”, overwhelmingly beautiful as usual, and the rarely performed and recently resurrected version of “Prove it All Night” with its 1978 introduction.
And the show went on and on, and “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” came, and then “Be True” (though the original set list, which was changed on the fly, included “Factory,” “Point Blank” and “Candy’s Room”), the always welcome “Downbound Train” and “Because the Night”, the tour premieres of “Light of Day” and the great, soulful “Back in Your Arms” (an underplayed classic), and latger on a very long and intense encore set, with the return of the “Detroit Medley” and “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” (Van Zandt wrote it, and Southside Johnny recorded it, and here it was played without the band, just as a duet with Bruce and Steve and their guitars), then followed by this soul masterpiece that is “Higher and Higher” (originally sung by the great Jackie Wilson), and a final, extra encore with “Twist and Shout” after Bruce announced they were about to break the 4-hour mark.
24 hours after the show, Bruce’s official website published a thank you note from tour director George Travis (“Wrecking Ball Tour by the Numbers”), a Helsinki photo gallery, and a special thank-you note handwritten by Bruce himself for all his European fans.