Widely revered for energetic live shows with his E Street Band, Bruce Springsteen showed with a solo concert at the Glendale Arena Saturday that he's just as captivating by himself.
Announcing that he “might go homicidal” if he heard any cell phones, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer asked the audience to turn off any phones and for quiet. The 7000-plus crowd (tickets were sold for only half of the arena, leading to an intentionally intimate setting) complied.
Supporting his just-released solo disc, “Devils & Dust,” Springsteen played a variety of open-tuned acoustic and electric guitars and accompanied himself on harmonica and piano. Dressed head to foot in black, he commanded the stage from the opening blues number, “Reason to Believe,” to the heartfelt finale, “The Promised Land.”
“The shows with the full band are more fun,” said Kristy Jorgensen, 43, of Gilbert, who was seeing Springsteen for the 12th time. “But this show was more intimate and emotional. The songs from (the new album) that I really didn't take to on the record really came alive in concert.”
Relying heavily on his newer material, Springsteen drew rapturous applause after each number, with the polite crowd listening intently to every nuance the singer/songwriter produced on a dimly lit stage surrounded by curtains and two hanging chandeliers.
Highlights from the set included older tunes such as “For You,” “Racing in the Street” and “Highway Patrolman,” as well as the rarely-heard-live “Book of Dreams" and the tour debut of “All I'm Thinkin’ About” from “Devils & Dust.”
East Valley resident and E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren joined The Boss on dobro for a terrific rendition of encore “This Hard Land,” and Springsteen then prompted the crowd to help him sing the chorus of the uplifting “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.”
The consummate professional, Springsteen proved on this night that he needs only an acoustic guitar and his stellar songs to hold a big crowd in jaw-dropped awe.
“Seeing him with the band is different,” said Steve Moger of New Jersey, who has seen Springsteen 50 to 60 times and is following him on this tour. “There is more energy with the band, but seeing him solo is more emotional. This was way better than the Detroit show — I mean, Nils Lofgren was here!”
Reason to Believe
Devils & Dust
Long Time Comin’
Book of Dreams
Part Man, Part Monkey
All I'm Thinkin' About
Racing in the Street
Further On (Up the Road)
Jesus Was an Only Son
Encore: This Hard Land (w/ Nils Lofgren) Waitin’ On a Sunny Day My Best Was Never Good Enough The Promised Land