Bruce Springsteen live review by Ryan Beardsley

It’s been a hell of a month for Hyde Park and the BST series which surely now takes pride of place as the best festival in the UK in terms of quality and diversity of acts, coupled with a setting that puts the likes of Finsbury Park to shame, and what better way to wrap things up than with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Lana Del Ray on Sunday doesn’t count because she’s manufactured nepo baby nonsense).

There’s barely an inch to spare across Hyde Park as The Boss and co take to the stage in the gorgeous July sunset to play a show that could go on all night I’m told… Highlight for most in attendance is of course Springsteen himself but for yours truly, being a massive Sopranos fan, the real thrill is seeing Steven Van Zandt (beloved consigliere Silvio Dante) in the flesh.

So here’s a disclaimer, I’ve never been a Springsteen fan as such, like most I know the big ones and a few oddities here and there but I never bought a record or saw him so I’m filled with a sense of curious excitement as they kick off with No Surrender. I was dying to know if the experience lived up to the hype and superlatives I often read about a Bruce live show. Spoiler alert but the answer is…kinda?

A man in his 70s playing for 3 hours straight with barely a breath between each song is incredibly impressive, even the tunes they play more often than not see another couple minutes of jamming and caterwauling to really give the fans their moneys worth. But in spite of the mammoth run time, I have to say as a casual fan it’s really more quantity over quality.

Every note is performed in earnest with wild enthusiasm by the whole band who are clearly having a great time and the older audience in Hyde Park are loving it too. It’s definitely the oldest demographic I’ve ever been a part of with an average age of 60 I’d guess, it sure makes for a stressless affair, no pushing and shoving and I don’t think I had a single beer spilled down my neck all night!

There are some lovely moments when Bruce Springsteen descends from the stage to serenade the crowd, with kids passed to the front to greet him and super fans getting the touch of their messiah in a way that never feels like grandstanding. He looks delighted to meet and greet his fans and it’s something that felt so genuine I couldn’t help but be moved.

The setlist for me was a bit of a slog I must admit, as we get an awful lot from 2020’s Letter to You, a richly acclaimed record as I recall but for the casual fans it seems a long way from the hit parade.

We get there in the end though and it’s an incredible finale, how’s this for a run;

Badlands, Thunder Road, Born In The USA and Born To Run…

It’s a wonderful collection of songs and makes the deep cuts worth your perseverance. Thunder Road is suitably epic and shows off the finest realms of Sprinsgteen’s snarl, Born in The USA with it classic serious message hidden behind catchy tune sensibilities, but Born To Run steals the show, capturing a moment in time for those in Hyde Park as the key entry in the soundtrack of their lives.

So have I been converted? I wouldn’t go that far, but The Boss certainly has my respect.

For tickets to other events at BST check the link here


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