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  • Writer's picturePete Chianca

Howls & whispers: Thoughts on Springsteen at Gillette, 8/24/23

So when I went to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Thursday, I was "on the clock." OK, not really — I bought tickets the day they went on sale and would have been there either way. But I was happy to review the show for my day job at Boston.com.


It's always interesting to go through my notebook after a show I'm reviewing and see, 1) if I can read anything that I scribbled down in the dark, and 2) whether or not any of it makes any sense, or if it's just nonsensical in-the-moment ramblings. (At one point Thursday I apparently wrote "prom king" — who knows what that was in reference to.)


Here are some other, maybe more decipherable (?) notes I found in my little blue notebook Friday morning:

  • Sure-footed

  • Possibilities of this life

  • Hoarse whisper into a giant stadium

  • Glorious howl

  • The train's getting closer

  • The power, the glory, and the life

  • "Bring the life! That feels so f—ing good."

Reading those made me think think two things — that I should submit that list to the New Yorker as a poem entitled "Springsteen," and that it actually somehow captures the essence of the show pretty well: What is a Springsteen show in 2023 if not a fusion of howls and whispers, confidence, hope, the burdens of mortality and the pleasures of life?


(And yes, I wrote a dash in my notebook for the last one, because I am that polite.)


Watch Bruce promise to bring the power, the glory and the life in the clip from Thursday below:


I wont rehash everything I wrote in my review, which you can read in its entirety at Boston.com here. (It's free!) But I did want to mention this particular bit toward the end:


One moment that most stayed with me was on another number that was new to the setlist: a rollicking “Darlington County” in which the final “Sha la las” were converted into a hushed crowd singalong. The effect was transforming the song from an in-the-moment romp into what felt like a sweet and distant memory. Someday, maybe soon, Springsteen seemed to be saying, what we were all experiencing together at that moment would too be a relic of the past — “turned into parking lots,” as he sings on another of the evening’s standouts, a wildly defiant “Wrecking Ball.”

A day later, I'm still struck on how that moment resonated, and in many ways wordlessly summed up the evening — for me, personally, there seemed to be 40 years worth of Springsteen memories tied up in those a capella sha-la-las, and it was bittersweet in that moment to think of how many more of them were behind me than in front of me.


But we were there, still adding to that collection of memories — this time my son was there for his first Bruce show, like my daughter was back in March. That we've reached the point where I can share with my grown children the man and the music that meant so much to me when I first dropped the needle at age 14 is pretty amazing.


And that Bruce is still out there, performing at such a high level, delivering that power and glory while still growing and changing to reflect when and where he is in his own life ... Well, that's just miraculous.







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