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Ever The Boss

Bruce Springsteen and co prove that at least one American team can score on an English football pitch, says Greg Morgan

Published on May 29th 2008.

Ever The Boss

IT'S not often that a team of Yanks manage to turn in a triumphant performance on an English football pitch but they managed it once this week.

But while Bob Bradley's men (previously coached by the aptly-named Bruce Arena) went down at Wembley, up at the rain-soaked home of Manchester United, Old Trafford, the adoring thousands were, once again, treated to a true masterclass by the E Street Band, skippered, of course, by the sublime Bruce Springsteen.

It's clear that he and the band are having a ball touring again as they delivered a muscular performance with panache, skill and a great deal of joy.

Generally, I don't like football ground concerts; I don't like the rain and, as a lifelong City fan, I sure as hell don't like being at Old Trafford unless we're giving them another spanking, so the Boss and his team were going to have to produce something special... I needn't have worried.

With steam rising above the sodden crowd Bruce bellowed the obligatory "One, two, three, four," in his rasping New Jersey drawl and we were on our way.

He kicked-off with a Born in the USA flashback, No Surrender, followed by a magic Radio Nowhere before reaching even further back, 33 years, into his immense back catalogue for a rousing version of Night.

The soundboard gremlins were threatening to cause havoc, but a few tweaks soon had the sound matching the quality of performance as Bruce set about doing what he does better than any other performer; picking us up by the scruff of the neck and dragging us along on his own spectacular musical journey which, even now, shows no signs of slowing down.

Bruce cut his teeth on his early, breathtaking live shows and age has only pegged him back a tad. It's clear that he and the band are having a ball touring again as they delivered a muscular performance with panache, skill and a great deal of joy.

The E Streeters, as tight as ever, were all stars but Clarence Clemons, resplendent in his dark greatcoat with silver embroidery, played out of his skin and was, as ever, the perfect foil for Bruce's showmanship which still includes those phenomenal knee slides.

Nils Lofgren, too, just gets better and better. Patti Scialfa wasn't there... hubby told us she was at home "Guarding the fort" and making sure his best clothes were not stolen and sold on eBay.

Badlands, The Promised Land and Lonseome Day kept up the relentless momentum but a blistering version of Jimmy Cliff's Trapped would have taken the roof off the Theatre of Dreams... if it had one.Highlights? There wasn't a bad song; Rosalita, Growin' Up (dedicated to a beaming six-year-old boy on his dad's shoulders) and It's Hard to be a Saint in the City take some topping but Bruce's Patti Smith collaboration Because the Night, featuring Lofgren's intuitive lead, was game-over for me.

Thanks Bruce, that's twice I've come away from Old Trafford this year with a big, stupid grin on my face and singing my head off. What say you to a return fixture next season?

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