Cape Town will never be the same again as Springsteen ends his wild ride

30 Jan

bruce springstreen_29 january 2014_liryn de jager (25)

(More pictures at

If you have to try and explain this thing, you won’t get it, never. Or maybe there is an apt description, like somebody who obviously doesn’t get it, quipped: “You Bruce people have all been beamed up to the mother ship, probed and prodded and then send back in some altered state.”

You had to be there to fully comprehend what transpired between Sunday, Tuesday and last night in Cape Town when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band hit the Mother City for their first ever shows on South African soil. Another rousing and rapturous three and a bit hour set, this time with 31 songs completing the set list, rocked the Belville Velodrome to its deepest foundations and took the doting Bruce devotees to a place they’ve never been before.

Instead of Free Nelson Mandela like on the first two nights, last night’s show kicked off with We take care of our own followed by Night. Jake Clemons took his place at the front of the stage and The Little Big Man made that sax gleam.  

No time was wasted in collecting the first sign request of the night and what a pick it was. The crowd was “liberated” and “confiscated” by Rosalita and Springsteen went into overdrive, nibbling on Little Stevie van Zandt’s ear in an over the top but real show of emotion.

Tom Morello stepped forward with High Hopes before it was back to the sign business with Adam raised a Cain. Springsteen showed his prowess on the cords, hair-raising stuff (and also finger numbing stuff, as he could barely sign autographs with a lucky few that ran into him at the hotel bar at 2am…)

It was clear as day under the South African night sky that Springsteen was talking to the gathering in a language that they could understand, the universal language of the power of music. Searching for those elusive and intangible words to describe just what they wanted to vocalize, he said on behalf of them: “Yeah, I got you man, I know exactly what you wanna say, I don’t know you, but I know you, know what I mean? I got you man, I got you.”

Something in the night was followed by Wrecking Ball with Sister Soozie Tyrell letting her violin talk the talk and those at the front of the pit jumping up and down, out of their skins. Then Morello got the suspenders swinging with his part in Death to my hometown.

The first walkabout of the evening resulted in riding the crowd surfing wave back to the stage on the rhythm of Hungry Heart.

With “We need some peace and tranquillity now” Springsteen picked up the harmonica for the first time during the evening. And when the realization set in, after the first couple of notes, that it’s Tougher than the rest, there was no turning back.

There was magic in the air. But not the tricky or fake kind. The real thing. Poignantly posed in the middle of the stage and with an illuminating light from behind, Springsteen gently eased into Jack of all trades. No need in denying it, yes, tears flowed…

Heaven’s Wall and the tour debut of This is your sword (and later on The Ghost of Tom Joad with Morello tearing it up in a big way) were the picks from High Hopes.

There was a brief interlude when Morello’s brother proposed to his girlfriend on stage with Springsteen adding a “We got him to propose to his girlfriend… Congratulations!” He dedicated Because the night and She’s the one to the happy couple.

Springsteen busted some major dance moves and pelvic thrusts, much to the delight of the female clan on Working on the highway and Shackled and Drawn. The whole band made it up right to the edge of the stage in a chorus line formation. Badlands rounded off the first set.

Van Zandt took centre stage with Sun City. He wrote and produced this 1986 protest song that was recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid in opposition to the apartheid policy of the then South African government.

Rocky Ground brought Michelle Moore and her rapping abilities to the front.

With a “Let’s go” it was encore and booty shaking time with Born to Run, Glory Days, Seven nights to rock, Dancing in the dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and Twist and Shout. But the Cape Town crowd just didn’t want to let go, and Springsteen played his part too, stripping off his soaking wet undercoat, shirt and tie: “Stevie, we got to get to Johannesburg, man. Are you done yet, Cape Town? Are you sure? ‘Cause we will keep going!”

Then of course there was The Boss’s thank you to the greatest band in the land: “You have just witnessed the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making, legendary E Street Band!”

He also had a few choice words for those down below and in the seats at the side of the stadium: “You may not be able to talk or walk or sit now, but at least you’ll be able to make love like an 18 year old!”

Before picking up the harmonica again and strumming the cords and closing out the night with an acoustic Thunder Road, Springsteen professed his gratitude for the fans in Cape Town, the locals and those who made the trek from all across the globe.

“We haven’t played here before and we weren’t sure how it would go. But you made us feel so welcome. We’ll be seeing you. The E Street Band loves you.”

Three down, one to go. And then the Bruce Blues kicks in. 

Set list: 29 January 2014 – Belville Velodrome, Cape Town   

1. We Take Care of Our Own 
2. Night
3. Rosalita
4. High Hopes
5. Adam Raised a Cain
6. Something in the Night
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Death to My Hometown
9. Hungry Heart
10. Tougher Than the Rest
11. Jack of All Trades
12. Heaven’s Wall
13. This Is Your Sword
14. Because the Night
15. She’s the One
16. Working on the Highway
17. Shackled and Drawn
18. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
19. The Rising
20. The Ghost of Tom Joad
21. Badlands
22. Sun City
23. Rocky Ground
24. Born to Run
25. Glory Days
26. Seven Nights to Rock
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
29. Twist and Shout
30. Thunder Road (acoustic)


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