Bruce Springsteen finished his triumphal Australian tour last Saturday with a show at Hunter Valley. He’s visited the country in three occasions since 2013 (after a long 10-year absence) offering fantastic performances each time.
The final days of this new tour, baptized as “Summer Tour 2017” (with no reference to The River anymore) included an outdoor show in Macedon, close to Melbourne, in a field in front of the Hanging Rock hills. It was a typical stadium show, with lots of hits and a mass-audience oriented setlist, though there were some songs for the hardcore fans, including “Growin’ Up” and “Blinded by the light”, plus “Jungleland” opening the encores.
The next two shows in Brisbane saw Bruce and the band return indoors, to the smallest arena of the tour, where he offered what probably were the best two shows in Australia this year. Particularly the first show, which was exceptional, featuring a mix of hits and unexpected surprises, along with an impetuous and energic performance.
After a memorable rendition of “New York City Serenade” (the biggest surprise and highlight at every show) a very loose and spontaneous Springsteen delivered “Lucky Town”, “Janey Don’t You Lose Heart”, “Rendezvous” and “Be True” (“triple St. Valentine’s Special”, he called it). They were followed by an emotive “Back in Your Arms” which was plagued by mistakes but Bruce came out victorious through it.
Bruce forgot the lyrics to some more songs all through the night, but it didn’t detract from the show. The spontaneity and vigor of the performance made it for a more exciting show. Then came “Better Days”, “Leap of Faith” (Lucky Town‘s often forgotten gems) and later in the show some super energized versions of “Candy’s Room”, “Because the Night” and “She’s the One”.
By “Badlands” Bruce was on fire, and ended the set with a thrilling and joyous “Rosalita”. The rarely performed “Secret Garden” was the first song in a sped-up encore that finalized with “Bobby Jean” and the whole Brisbane audience in awe.
The second night in Brisbane brought another excellent show, though it was hard to top the first night’s extraordinary energy. Springsteen managed to surprise everybody after another great “New York City Serenade” when he performed more rarely performed songs such as “Working on a Dream”, “Roll of the Dice”, “Jole Blon” or a full-band “Long Time Comin'”. For “Growin’ Up” a fan was invited onstage. Brisbane’s Nathan Testa proved he can play guitar and knows the lyrics to the song. It was a magical fun moment.
Though the performance level seemed to diminish after that first hour (to more ‘human’ levels), Bruce still had some surprises in his hat: “Fire” and “Follow That Dream”. The rest of the set went thru more common territory and the usual hits and crowd-pleasers.
Finally, the tour ended with a show at Hunter Valley, another outdoor show which combined rain with hot summer sun, hence opening with “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” and featuring a few more unusual choices like Bobby Fuller’s “I Fought the Law”, “Jole Blon” and the Born in the USA outtake “None But the Brave”.