The Boss rocks Cape Town!

28 Jan

bruce_26 jan 2014 (1)

(More pictures at


Nobody knew what to expect of the first ever concert for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on South African soil. There was much speculation beforehand about the set list to an audience (bar those who’ve travelled the globe) who has never seen the man played live. Also, would the local fans understand and appreciate the queuing system for the much coveted pit armbands?

In the end, this was it for night one of three in Cape Town – 27 songs in just a tad over three hours, all delivered in classic Springsteen style, with heart and soul laid bare on the floor. And the fans did fall into line, eagerly and orderly, to get that prized spot right in the front, and within sweat-dripping distance of The Boss.

From the outset, it was clear that there was something special in the air on this particular night. Maybe it was the anticipation of having waited for so long to see this band of merry music makers and the man in the centre of it all, who knows, there was just something… With the band appearing on stage and finally Springsteen himself, the revellers in the Belville Velodrome (with a lot of his fellow countrymen and woman as well as Europeans making the trek across the ocean) were on their feet.

For obvious reasons, there couldn’t have been another song for that first slot. The whole band lined up at the front of the stage for Free Nelson Mandela with Springsteen shouting “Good evening Cape Town! It’s so good to finally be in your beautiful country.”

It didn’t take long for him to make that physical and magnetic connection with the crowd. Springsteen’s first walkabout came during Out in the Street when he bent down and touched the outstretched hands of those lucky ones with the pink armbands in front. From there on end, he made regular excursions around the pit and towards the back and side of the venue. Although it did take a bit of coaxing to get everyone to pull together for some crowd-surfing during Hungry Heart.

This was also the green light to “Let’s play the hits, boys!” And it included a very soulful The River (after which he handed the harmonica down to one of the doting devotees in the front crowd), Pay Me My Money Down (with Cindy Mizelle and Michelle Moore twirling colourful umbrellas) and an electrifying and piercing The Ghost Of Tom Joad with the manic hands of Tom Morello doing their thing. Nils Lofgren wasn’t to be outshone though with his spin (literally) on Because The Night.

During Darling County Springsteen went on another walkabout, was handed a beer which he dutifully slugged back and quipped “I think there’s beer in my ear!” And then Waitin’ On A Sunny Day also had to have some crowd prodding involved when he said “This song is so easy even an Italian kid can sing it”. The youngster that did end op sharing the mic with him, didn’t do too bad of a job with Springsteen eventually hoisting him up onto his shoulders.

We are alive was dedicated to the memory of Nelson Mandela with Springsteen saying “We are humble to be here tonight in the land of Nelson Mandela… This is a lovely circle for us, to finally be able to come here.”

And then, as expected, came Born In The USA, Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark in quick succession.

Springsteen closed out his first ever South African concert with an acoustic Thunder Road. He preluded it with a heartfelt message “Thank you for making us feel at home, you’ve been so lovely towards us. Thank you. This is going to be a permanent stop from here on end.”

Although it was a special night, especially for the long waiting fans at the southern tip of Africa, it was also a safe night for those that has been witness to the “everlasting and ass-kicking power of rock ‘n roll” before. Maybe he was testing the waters, seeing if he can push it a little more on nights two and three in Cape Town and night four in Johannesburg. One thing is for sure, though, no two Springsteen set lists are the same. This will be no exception.


Set list: 26 January 2014 – Belville Velodrome, Cape Town

1.     Free Nelson Mandela

2.     Badlands

3.     Death To My Hometown

4.     Out In The Street

5.     High Hopes

6.     Spirit In The Night

7.     Hungry Heart

8.     The River

9.     Heaven’s Wall

10.  Atlantic City

11.  Johnny 99

12.  Pay Me My Money Down

13.  American Skin (41 Shots)

14.  Because The Night

15.  Darlington County

16.  Shackled And Drawn

17.  Waitin’ On A Sunny Day

18.  The Rising

19.  The Ghost Of Tom Joad

20.  Land Of Hope And Dreams

21.  We Are Alive

22.  Born In The USA

23.  Born To Run

24.  Dancing In The Dark

25.  Tenth Avenue Freeze Out

26.  Shout

27. Thunder Road (Acoustic)



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