Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band started their tour of Spain with a soldout show at the Madrid bullring «Las Ventas». A cold night after days of rain, which stoped that afternoon, right for the show, but left the arena a big muddy. A good show, but not one of those phenomenal performances we’re used to. (See full set list). Bruce was probably still jetlagged as he arrived that same morning from the US. Good versions, completely reworked, of «Atlantic City» and «Bobby Jean» though.
Totally recovered and in great spiritis, Bruce nearly filled the 30,000-seat soccer stadium in Valencia, and delivered a tremendous performance (check set list). From the opening chords of «John Henry» you could tell he was in great shape and full of energy. Yes, it was one of «those» nights. The Seeger Sessions Band was an unstoppable train and we got to hear fantastic versions of «Growin’ Up» and «The River» (both completely re-worked with new music), a stunning «Mrs. McGrath» followed by a very emotional «Poor Man» and, a bit later, a fantastic «Long Time Coming» with the horns in full force. The horn members did the vocal «stacatto» intro to «Open All Night» (also in Madrid) and Lisa Lowell got to sing (beautifully) a full verse of «When The Saints Go Marching In».
The surprise of the night was the tour premiere of «Love of the Common People«, a song writtten in 1967 by John Hurley & Ronnie Wilkins, which has been recorded by a wide variety of artists, including Elton John, Waylong Jennings, Wanda Jackson, John Denver, Pat Boone and Paul Young. (we were told this song was one of the unidentified songs from the September rehearsals in Asbury Park).
In fact, it’s hard to describe the show by picking a few songs, because there was not even one single weak performance. Every song was beautifully done, and the atmosphere in the audience was of pure joy. This was not the typical screaming spanish audience, but instead a very enthusiastic but polite audience, singing when needed and clapping and expressing full satisfaction between songs, but never interrupting Bruce, who never had the need to sush them. It was his first time in Valencia, and it was clear that for a big part of the audience this was their first Springsteen show ever. He won them all.
After the debut of «Love of the Common People» the band started playing «You Can Look» (as setlisted). Bruce quickly stopped them and called for «My City of Ruins» (not setlisted). That was the one extra song that was not in the original setlist. The rest went on as planned. After that, they finally got into «You Can Look» which again featured some more changes at the end (different from the Madrid version). It sounded very good and Bruce seemed very happy with those changes, as he happily pointed out to the band at the end of the song.
The long afternoon soundcheck featured also «Youngstown», yet to be premiered.