Thursday 29 September 2016

First look: Stripped-down Bruce band to rock Croker at peak of their power

Published 27/05/2016 | 02:30

Bruce Springsteen. Photo: Robert Altman /Invision/AP
Bruce Springsteen. Photo: Robert Altman /Invision/AP

'The heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making, legendary' Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will rock Dublin tonight in the latest chapter of Ireland's 31-year love affair with the star.

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More than 160,000 fans will flock to Croke Park between tonight and Sunday for two of the most eagerly awaited concerts of the year.

Springsteen and the E Street Band arrive in Dublin after rave reviews for the first five gigs of their European tour in Barcelona, San Sebastian, Lisbon, Madrid and Manchester.

This is a stripped-down version of the E Street band without horns and multiple backing singers - marking a return to the tight 1970s and 80s line-up that earned them the reputation of the most formidable rock outfit on the planet.

In Barcelona, Bruce & Co produced a tribute to Prince with a stunning version of 'Purple Rain'.

In Manchester last Wednesday night, one somewhat challenged fan dressed as Santa Claus was treated to a rousing version of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town' despite it being late May.

Construction work continues on the Bruce Springsteen stage in Croke Park. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Construction work continues on the Bruce Springsteen stage in Croke Park. Photo: Steve Humphreys

So be prepared to be surprised.

The 66-year-old now marks the 31st anniversary of his first concert in Ireland with a brace of sell-out events in which he plays Croke Park for the first time.

For first-timers at Croke Park tonight or Sunday night, a few pointers: Springsteen will play a set of more than three and a half hours to achieve the goal of sending fans home happy.

The current tour, while dubbed 'The River II' in tribute to his famous 1980 album, is actually more like a greatest hits collection.

Construction work taking place at Croke Park ahead of the Bruce Springsteen concert.
Photo: Steve Humphreys
Construction work taking place at Croke Park ahead of the Bruce Springsteen concert. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Devoted fans will get a few rarities but, for the most part, the set list will reflect the finest moments of Springsteen's 43-year recording career and songs that have dominated global radio for four decades.

The Boss has also delivered an estimated €10m economic fillip for greater Dublin's tourism industry with some fans having to resort to staying in Dundalk and Kildare because of huge demands for hotel beds in the capital.

The gigs further deepen a connection between Springsteen, his E Street Band and Ireland which dates to June 1, 1985, when he first appeared at Slane.

Slane sparked a deep personal connection between the singer and Ireland that has widened to include music, holidays, friendship and even horses.

E Street Band member Nils Lofgren arrives at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Photo: VIPIreland.com
E Street Band member Nils Lofgren arrives at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin. Photo: VIPIreland.com

The father-of-three once described Ireland as his "adopted home" given the amount of time the band has spent here over the years and the deep affection shown to him by Irish fans.

Perhaps only fans in Spain and Sweden can rival the intense devotion shown by Irish people to Springsteen and his music.

Taken on a per capita basis, Ireland sells out more concerts for Springsteen than any other country on earth - including his native US.

Three years ago, he made Irish music history by selling out five concerts in Belfast, Limerick, Cork and Kilkenny (twice). He played to more than 150,000 fans in 12 days.

Promoter Peter Aiken admitted that he could probably have sold out a further two concerts had the dates and venues been available.

Mr Aiken, whose late father, Jim, promoted the Slane concert in 1985, is an avowed fan of The Boss.

"He is probably the best live act I have ever seen - and I have seen them all," he said.

Irish Independent

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