Less than a year after his previous trip down under, the boss returned to Melbourne with an array of special guests in tow.
Not usually one for having support acts, the Melbourne leg of the current Australian tour had not one, but two support slots.
First up was Indigenous Melbourne singer/songwriter Dan Sultan, followed by the recently reformed Australian rock legends Hunters & Collectors who are currently on their last tour ever.
Sultan performed and road tested an array of new tunes from his forthcoming third LP Blackbird including first single the sexy pop rock sure-to-be-a-hit Under Your Skin. His bands performance was short but full of energy warming up the crowd for a 6 1/2 hour gig extravaganza.
Hunters & Collectors ensured their final tour would not be forgotten performing hit after hit including “Throw Your Arms Around Me“, “Holy Grail“, “Do You See What I See“ and “When The River Runs Dry“.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band were running half an hour late to hit the stage which meant there was an hour between sets, however it went by in the blink of an eye and a non-stop high-energy 3 and a 1/2 hour set ensued.
The boss likes to keep each show different, and with decades of shows under his belt, he still does not cease to amaze and surprise.
Upon entering the stage Springsteen said “Melbourne, good to be back and see you so soon,” before introducing Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder to the stage to join in on a couple of tracks.
Kicking off the set in what was the best and most memorable opening to any show I’ve ever been to with AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, Vedder shared vocal duties with Springsteen while honorary touring member Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello distorted his way through the iconic Aussie hit on guitar, along with original band member guitarists Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren and the E Street band; One guitarist is just not enough.
Vedder who is currently on a solo tour throughout Australia and recently performed with his band on the Big Day Out tour stayed on for “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” before sneaking into the mosh pit to enjoy the rest of the show with the fans.
A few tracks from his latest release High Hopes, featuring covers and originals, were thrown in and in another rarity the band performed his most recognisable song to date “Born In The USA” with the rest of the album following on. Before launching into the song he said that he’d only played it live a few times in California and elsewhere.
As per usual song requests were plucked from signs in the crowd and a few fans got to join the band on stage. Two guys wearing wigs to match the afro of backup singer Cindy Mizelle requested to dance with her. They were brought onto the stage, boogied with her a little then each handed an acoustic guitar to play with Springsteen. Another fan, a middle aged woman, was granted a dance with Springsteen which almost ended in tears of disbelief at a dream come true.
Antics were aplenty with Van Zandt and Springsteen pulling faces for the cameras, Morello playing his guitar with his teeth, Springsteen jumping on top of the grand piano, butt wiggling and side stepping in unison from the whole gang during “Shackled And Drawn”, Springsteen straddling his mic stand, allowing his fans and his mic stand to strum his guitar.
Morello/Springsteen duet “Ghost Of Tom Joad” was a highlight as the duo shredded and shared vocals on what has become a signature track of Morello’s during performances with the E Street Band. Last year Morello joined the Wrecking Ball tour as a replacement for Van Zandt who had other commitments. Despite the return of Van Zandt it looks like Morello is in for the long run; Morello featured heavily on the recording of High Hopes which was partially recorded in Sydney during last year’s tour.
To close the show’s encore the Isley Brothers “Shout” was performed before the E Streeters bowed and left Springsteen a lone wolf to perform “Thunder Road” acoustically.
In what had become a mini festival, Dan Sultan secured new fans, Hunters & Collectors demonstrated why they are such an iconic band and will be missed and Springsteen showed that he still has many tricks up his sleeve and will be sure to continue to re-invent and surprise his fans.