Bruce Springsteen settles an old score in Hyde Park

  • By Mark Savage
  • BBC Music Correspondent

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Springsteen didn’t take a breather during his three-hour, 28-song set

The last time Bruce Springsteen played in Hyde Park, he defied curfew There was a power cut He stood with Paul McCartney on stage and played a brace of Beatles covers.

Springsteen’s longtime guitarist Steve Van Zant tweeted that he was „pissed off” and asked, „When did England become a police state?” He asked; The then Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, criticized the move as a „very efficient decision”.

A few days later, Springsteen took to the stage in Dublin, flipped a giant electric switch, and announced, „Before we were rudely interrupted…” Picking up where he left off, that is, with the final minute of Twist and Shout. . .

On Thursday night, he returned to Hyde Park – playing a different festival (BST) organized by a different promoter – and finally laid the ghost to rest.

He hit the stage early, just after 19:00 BST, and played for three solid hours.

But he started tapping his watch 15 minutes before the end of the show.

„I think it’s time to go home,” he told Van Zandt.

„I’m telling you, if we don’t go, they’re going to drag us back.”

Then, with a theatrical shrug, he shouted „stuff ’em” (or, to be perfectly accurate, a more expressive version of that phrase) and launched into the blistering chorus of Glory Days.

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Springsteen has been playing with the E Street Band for 50 years

He opened the set with No Surrender and Ghosts, two songs that testified to the power of rock and roll, as if he were summoning the spirits of live music.

And he kept running up and down the crowd barriers to take selfies, shake people’s hands, hand out plectrums, and read their signs without being cut off from the stage. More than once, he returned to watch the E Street Band (now celebrating their 50th anniversary) from the front.

When he’s on stage, all the great rock star moves come out: he thrusts his guitar into the sky, or kicks his legs in the air, all while wearing tight jeans.

Later, he set up guitar duels with Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren, and ripped his shirt while playing Dancing in the Dark. It would be clichéd if he didn’t deliver every moment with full, no-holds-barred passion.

„Is anyone alive in London tonight?” He was a well-worn moment of stage fluttering. „”If you are alive, I am alive. That’s what we came here for.”

For the first hour and a half, the music never stopped. As soon as Springsteen hits the last chord of The Promised Land or Out in the Street, there’s a 1-2-3-4, and he powers into the next song.

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A sold-out crowd of 65,000 fans (including Roger Federer, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi and Peter Gabriel) chanted „Bruuuuus” between each song.

The 28-song set is drawn from Springsteen’s biggest albums — Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town and Born in the USA — but he focuses on songs about buckling your seatbelt, turning up the radio and chasing the American dream. , the show has a second, more somber thread.

Introducing Last Man Standing, he talks about forming his first band, The Castiles, in the 1960s and finding himself 50 years later at the deathbed of his guitarist George Thies.

„He only had days to live,” Springsteen recalled, as the crowd listened in silence. “I realized that his passing would leave me as the last member of that group of guys who got together in that house so many years ago.

„Death brings a certain clarity of thought and purpose and meaning,” he continued. „The ultimate and lasting gift of death to all of us is a broader perspective on this life. How important it is to seize the day whenever you can.”

He later dedicated the song Last Man Standing from his 2020 album Letter to You to George, playing alone on stage without the rest of his band.

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The star was joined on stage by Jake Clemons, son of original E Street Band star Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011.

And he ends the show alone again, strapping on an acoustic guitar to play I’ll See You In My Dreams, another song inspired by the loss of a friend, his voice almost a whisper as he leads the crowd through the final chorus: „Because death is not the end / I’ll see you in my dreams.”

It was a touching moment. A reminder of the impermanence of time and the importance of keeping loved ones close.

Springsteen is 74 years old.

And yet, he shows no signs of stopping … or even aging. There are artists half his age who couldn’t pull off a show of this length and energy. We should enjoy every moment.


  • Don’t surrender
  • Ghosts
  • Prove overnight
  • A letter to you
  • The Promised Land
  • on the street
  • Darlington County
  • Highway work
  • Kitties bag
  • night work
  • Mary’s place
  • My hometown
  • the river
  • The last man standing
  • Back streets
  • Because the night
  • She is the one
  • Wrecking Ball
  • rising
  • Badlands
  • Thunder Road
  • Born in America
  • Born to run
  • Bobby Jean
  • The glory days
  • Dance in the dark
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  • I will see you in my dreams

Bruce Springsteen plays the second night of the festival in Hyde Park on Saturday, July 8 BST.

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