«Why are the rain shows always so special? Thank you San Sebastian». These are Steve Van Zandt’s words after the show, via Twitter. Whether because of or in spite of the heavy rain, Bruce and the band did indeed deliver another fantastic performance. It may have not reached the level of the first night in Barcelona (the show that featured the ’78 intro to «Prove It», hard to beat that), but the show in San Sebastian on Saturday was intense, with an unpredictable setlist.
The afternoon soundcheck was a real tease, getting us all excited as Bruce worked out a number of rarities in an extended rehearsal including «Higher and Higher», «Be True», «Burning Love», «Pink Cadillac» and, from The Promise, «Spanish Eyes». It was a joy to be able to hear a song like «Spanish Eyes», from the street but still crystal clear. He’s never played the song in concert, and the only known live version comes from a closed rehearsal in Asbury Park in 1978. So though it was from a distance, we could say this was the song’s first-ever «public» performance.
As predicted, it rained since one hour prior to the show, and it rained hard. That didn’t stop Bruce from putting on a great performance. After saying «Hola San Sebastián, Gabon Donostia» (Hello/Good Night San Sebastian, both in spanish and basque), the Creedence classic «Who’ll Stop the Rain?» came first, and though it didn’t stop the rain at all, it brought powerful energy to the stadium and the show itself. «The Ties That Bind» sounded as fresh and vital as when as a young teenager I used to drop the needle over and over on the vinyl tracks of The River album. Bruce showed some sympathy for his soaked fans when he went to the front during «Death to My Hometown» to profusely and purposely drench his guitar. Michelle Moore is having more and more moments in the shows, and in San Sebastián she was onstage already for «My City of Ruins», and then the next song, «Spirit in the Night», which now sounds a lot more closer to its 1978 incarnation. Bruce wore a hat for this one, recalling his 70’s look.
As the show progressed Bruce called for some audibles and kept changing the set list. «Night» came next (with Steve sharing vocals with Bruce on several verses), then «Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?», both fast paced. «Jack of all Trades» was well received, and was followed by a terrific trio: «Adam Raised a Cain», «Prove it All Night» and «She’s the One». Bruce was on fire, and after the standard «Waitin’ on a Sunny Day» (during which the kid onstage tried to run away from Bruce!) he started called audibles and skipping the setlisted songs («Apollo Medley», «The Rising», «Lonesome Day» and «We Are Alive» were all left aside). Thus we got a very welcomed «Save My Love», a note-perfect «The River» (with more amazing vocal and guitar work from Stevie), a monumental «Backstreets» (with a short interlude, very similar to the one in the Houston’78 video) and an accelerated «Badlands» that led us to a great «Land of Hope and Dreams» to end the main set.
So far, a great show, but possibly a good part of the audience was expecting more hits. Come encore time, they got what they wanted and the stadium was on its feet dancing, singing and partying like crazy in the middle of the storm. A magnificent «Rocky Ground» was followed by an explosive «Born in the U.S.A.» that literally shook the stadium, then a joyous «Hungry Heart» and a frenetic «Seven Nights to Rock», then «Dancing in the Dark» (with two kids onstage) and «Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out» to close. I’m still amazed at the level of joy, energy and enthusiasm that Bruce is showing on this tour, and how perfectly each song is performed.
Fotos: Paolo di Pietro (1,2,4), Point Blank (3)