Taking time to search out the truth is the American way,” Bruce Springsteen told the crowd of 50,000–plus gathered on October 4th at New York’s Shea Stadium. “I learned that from Bob Dylan.” In a triumphant final note to Springsteen’s fourteen–month tour, Dylan himself joined the E Street Band on “Highway 61 Revisited.”
Springsteen’s three–night stand was a familiar mix of incendiary politics, special guests (including Al Franken and the Mets’ Al Leiter) and seemingly endless music: The final show lasted nearly three and a half hours, featuring classics such as “Born to Run” and “Rosalita” and new staples including “The Rising” and “Mary’s Place.” During “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” Springsteen told the crowd to “shout a little louder if you want the president impeached,” and the first night opened with a video loop of Bush discussing weapons of mass destruction.
There were problems — fans complained about the heavy handed tactics of stadium security, and the New York Police Department canceled Springsteen’s escort for one show after he played the anti–police–brutality anthem “American Skin (41 Shots)” on the first night.
“We’re still looking into what happened,” an NYPD spokesman says. But overall the atmosphere was loose and celebratory, especially when friends and family joined the band for “Dancing in the Dark” and “Twist and Shout.”
Jon Landau, Springsteen’s manager, calls the show one of the high points of their thirty years together. “Bruce and the band had never been better,” he says. “It was one of those tours where everything just felt right.”
This story is from the November 13th, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone.