Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Top 5 Bruce Springsteen cover songs from the Australia and New Zealand tour

Anyone who sees an E Street Band show knows the energy, respect, and dedication by Springsteen and the band is unbeatable.

Demonstrated perfectly by the way he often chooses a song local to the region he's touring for a cover, often delivered with an E Street twist.

Sometimes, like last year's performance of The Saints' Just Like Fire Would in Brisbane, the track will even take a life of its own within the band and make repeated appearances or even recordings.
The completed tour of Australia and New Zealand came with a set of covers as unique and surprising as anyone could have predicted. Many making headlines around the world.
Here's five of the best:

1. Highway To Hell - AC/DC
Last year the band soundchecked AC/DC's Whole Lotta Rosie before the first show on the tour but the Australian rock band's song never surfaced in the ten concerts Down Under.
It was on the third and final night in Perth, where AC/DC's original leader Bon Scott lived and died, that Springsteen opened with the crowd pumping cover.


Perth had already seen two great shows and the Saturday night atmosphere was already palpable before the band came on. But the fierce guitars, pounding drums and belting battle cry of Springsteen and the band to start his final show with Highway To Hell  was the surprise opener that began one of the best openings of the tour.

It set the standard for the song to reappear several times, including twice with special guest Eddie Vedder.
Performed at: Perth (Show 3), Adelaide (Show 1), Melbourne (Show 1), Brisbane.

Original version...

2. Don't Change - INXS
Sydney's only show had already had one cover to raise the crowd in the form of The Easybeats' Friday On My Mind, and the full run down of Darkness On The Edge Of Town.
So when Springsteen belted out the INXS rock song to open the encore there was no holding the audience back. 

The band's four lead guitarists - Springsteen, Stevie Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Tom Morello, stood centre stage for the opening bars and returned for the songs climax.
It was angry, energetic and excessive. A fine and topical tribute.
Performed at: Sydney
Original version...

3. Spill The Wine - Eric Burden
After Hunter Valley's first night opening cover of Stick McGee's Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-Do-Dee there was no guessing what would come for the second show.
So when Garry W Tallent bounced on stage moving to a calypso beat and the rest of the band grooved into place before Springsteen arrived it was clear something special was about to happen.


Joining him centre stage was Michelle Moore, dressed as the mysterious woman in Eric Burden's Spill The Wine, complete with a bottle and glass of red wine, as Springsteen opened the second show with another cover in tribute to the Australian wine region.
By the second verse even those who didn't know the song were joining in with the chorus and infected by the sense of fun and energy the band were spilling out.
Performed at: Hunter Valley (Show 2) 

Original version...

4. Stayin' Alive - The Bee Gees
I genuinely thought there had been a mistake when someone told me they had heard the band soundcheck a Bee Gees song while waiting in line in Brisbane.
We had heard the rumours of a string section being brought in and everyone - correctly - assumed it was for New York City Serenade. Not a dated, somewhat irritating to many, disco classic.


But when the horns piped in to Springsteen's acoustic guitars, and the E Street Choir emerged from the shadows with their soulful backing vocals it was clear this wasn't going to be a disco tune. Instead the strings kicked in, followed by the rest of the band with horns centre stage bringing with it a rock n' roll rewriting of the song. 
Even Tom Morello got in on the act with an electric guitar solo as Springsteen's vocals turned the song from a high pitch squeal into a solid, fighting song about a man really fighting to stay alive. You really had to see it to believe it.
Performed at: Brisbane
Original version...

5. Royals - Lorde
The best covers were those you didn't see coming, and despite New Zealand's teenage sensation currently on her way to dominate the world, it just didn't occur to some of us Springsteen would give this breakthrough song a try.
The result was a solo acoustic, harmonica-driven, version in which 'King B' pounded his guitar to get out the frustration within the lyrics.


Like all covers, this wasn't a last minute attempt to please the local crowd with a tribute to their own music. It was an intricate re-working of a song with complex lyrics that Springsteen was able to firmly add his own touch.
The obviously deeper vocals and weariness over the lyrics again turned this song into that of a beaten-down fighter trying to get on top.
It made such an impact that it was brought out again for Auckland's second show and the final concert on the tour.
Performed at: Auckland (Shows 1 and 2)

Original version...

Other notable covers on the tour:

The Easybeats - Friday On My Mind (Sydney, Hunter Valley 1)
Stick McGee - Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-Do-Dee (Hunter Valley 1)

Which one do you rate best?