“New Yorkers: be afraid,” Bruce Springsteen scrawled atop his handwritten setlist for last night’s frenzied Madison Square Garden gig in New York. “Veeeary afraid.” Who knows what the hell we were supposed to be afraid of other than not getting a ticket (scalpers made a killing even though cops were handing out their own tickets like crazy), but Springsteen and the E Street Band will have a near impossible job topping the energy and heart they showed last night. In front of a crowd that included Bono, Jon Stewart, James Gandolfini (who danced maniacally all night despite never standing up), Mike Mills and God knows who else, Springsteen delivered a show that was on par with his Seventies epic marathons, despite being nearly half their length. Gone are the “10th Avenue Freezeout”s and “Mary’s Place”s that slowed down recent E Street band shows with long preacher rants and endless band introductions. Instead, Bruce banged through twenty-three songs Ramones-style, barely pausing between them. Highlights included “Adam Raised a Cain,” “Backstreets” and the new “Gypsy Biker” during which Steve Van Zandt was finally let loose on guitar. No rarities were dragged up, but it’s Bruce tradition to save them for night two. “Jungleland” was on the setlist a few nights back, but didn’t make it. Bruce, if you’re reading this, play that plus “New York City Serenade” tonight. It’s the only way you’ll be able to top yourself.
Want a reminder of what Bruce and Co. look like live? Check out our photo gallery from the tour’s opening-night show.