Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Top 5 most exciting things about Bruce Springsteen's return to Australia in 2014

It’s been a while since I made a Springsteen list, so as fans across the country, and the world, finalise their travel plans, snap up last minute tickets and absorb all the High Hopes they can, here’s five great – and probably obvious - things to get excited about the E Street Band’s upcoming return to Australia.

1. Stevie’s back!

He missed the last tour to film the second season of Lilyhammer and now everyone’s favourite TV mobster is back to make up for his absence.
Not only a fantastic guitarist, Van Zandt is obviously a perfect partner for Springsteen up there on the stage. He’s both a joker and rabble rouser with the crowd and his charismatic presence was sorely missed – even if it did lead to Australian audiences watching a whole new magic appear with Tom Morello standing in.
In Hyde Park in 2009 I remember watching Bruce yell out: ‘Stevie what time is it?’.
To which he replied: ‘It’s curfew-breaking-Boss time!’.
Three years later I was back there in Hyde Park when the organisers were forced to pull the plug before the band could sign-off in the traditional E Street Band manner.
And it was the next show in Dublin where the pair of blood brothers showed everyone how much fun they had playing together as they took to the stage wheeling out a pretend power switch, flipped it to ‘ON’, and burst straight into Twist & Shout, the previous show’s interrupted finale.
One of the most exciting things about any Springsteen show is that you can never really know what to fully expect on the night, and Van Zandt is a big part of that.

2. Tom’s coming too

The success of Tom Morello as Steve Van Zandt’s stand in last year cannot be underestimated. You have to look no further that the tracklist on new album High Hopes to see how much of an influence he had on Springsteen and the band.
Not only for this incredible adaption of Ghost of Tom Joad, but also the power he brought to tracks High Hopes, E Street Shuffle, and Death To My Hometown were great moments in the 2013 tour.
Not to mention the way Springsteen played up to his replacement musician’s new appointment by telling everyone ‘Tommy’s shakin’ in his boots right now’… when he went to play a request for Red Headed Woman, which seemed like it hadn’t been part of the rehearsals.
Even if he only came out for Tom Joad, it would still be a highlight, but the fact that this tour will have four incredible guitarists – Morello joining Springsteen himself, Van Zandt and the formidable Nils Lofgren – we are in for some amazing performances.

3. Perth Arena

There was a public outcry when Perth was missed off the destinations last time round.
And quite rightly so. For just over a year the West Australian venue has put on some brilliant concerts and was built for shows like the E Street Band.
When it was announced he wasn’t coming in 2013 there were radio debates on lobbying the state government to fund his trip over, while many were left wondering what was the point in the new venue if it couldn’t attract the best live show in the world.
It resulted in no less than a rumoured 5,000 fans from Perth boarding flights out of WA and boosting concerts across the country. The plane home from Melbourne to Perth after the final show at Hanging Rock was full of merchandise-wearing fans who had seen Springsteen himself acknowledge their efforts for coming over with a thank you to his Perth fans.
Bon Jovi on stage at Perth Arena in December 2013.
Meanwhile hundreds of people joined Facebook campaign Bring Bruce Springsteen to Perth, which has since become an online community of ‘Perthsteens’.
The reason why it will be a highlight this time round isn’t just because he’s playing three shows there, it’s because on a good night the Arena is a spectacular venue.
Having seen several shows there in all parts of the venue, there doesn’t seem to be one seat that doesn’t have a great view of the stage, so even if you couldn’t get a standing ticket, you’ve nothing to worry about.
The location makes it easy to get to. There’s no Olympic Park to walk miles navigating like Sydney, or some weird swamp to avoid like Brisbane. As far as it stacks up against Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Allphones Arena and Rod Laver Arena that all featured on the last tour, I would say it easily the best despite not being the biggest.
(Food and beer is a bit pricey though, even for Perth prices.)

4. High Hopes

Sure the album has divided some fans and critics, particularly those who wanted a new album of original material to live the next steps of their lives to, but the new album does bring with it some exciting prospects for the next tour.
Obviously the title track and the Morello-infused Ghost of Tom Joad should get a decent blaring, but the addition of the brilliant American Skin (41 Shots) gives plenty of er…. hope… that we’ll see it performed on this tour. And having the live version out there for years we all know how haunting and powerful that can sound.

5. Eddie Vedder’s in town

The Pearl Jam singer will be touring Australia with the band for Big Day Out, and then he’s embarking on a solo tour too.
Looking at the dates of both his and Springsteen’s shows there are a couple of opportunities where they are both in the same place with time for Vedder to join his friend for a song or two.
It wouldn’t be the first time, and just recently Springsteen was photographed watching Vedder perform.
On paper at least, Vedder finished up the Big Day Out festivals in Perth on February 2. He’s then due to play Perth’s Riverside Theatre on February 7 and 8 – the nights of Springsteen’s second and third shows at Perth Arena.
That leaves the tantalising prospect that Vedder will be in town on February 5 as Springsteen kicks off the tour in Perth.
The two will also be in Melbourne at the same time as the E Street Band take over AAMI Stadium for the weekend February 15, 16. Vedder’s playing three dates in Melbourne starting on February 16, but before then he finishes his final show in Sydney on February 13.
Leaving the window of opportunity open for a guest appearance with Springsteen on Saturday, February 15.
Of course these are both long shots and probably form more of a wishlist than a guaranteed part of Springsteen’s 2014 tour. But the history these two have of supporting each other when they can is very exciting and it will be hard to believe they won’t catch up as they both tour Australia next month.
In the meantime, here’s Vedder joining the band for No Surrender in 2007… 

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