Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band kicked off their 2012 tour at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia on Sunday night with a set that was heavy on songs from Springsteen’s new album, Wrecking Ball, but also threw in a number of classics from the ’70s and ’00s (but not much in between). As he had done during his last tour, Bruce ventured into the audience for some crowd-surfing during a medley of The Temptations‘ “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and Wilson Pickett‘s “634-5789.”
Kicking off the show with two songs from Wrecking Ball (currently the #1 album in the country) — “We Take Care Of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball” — he then launched into one his biggest roof-raisers, “Badlands” from 1978′s Darkness On The Edge Of Town. He returned to the new album for “Death To My Hometown” before launching into an emotional version of “My City Of Ruins.” That was the first of three songs from 2002′s The Rising, but was first played in 2001. The song was originally a tribute to Bruce’s hometown of Asbury Park, but after 9/11 became a eulogy. At tonight’s show, it was a tribute to the late E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. As he did at his two warm up shows (he played New York City’s Apollo Theater on March 9, and Austin’s South By Southwest Festival on Thursday), he declared “if you’re here and we’re here, they’re here.”
Clemons had a presence that would have been impossible to replace, and Springsteen wisely didn’t try to: instead, the live version of The E Street Band now includes a horn section with two sax players — one of whom is Clarence’s nephew, Jake Clemons. And that horn section got a good workout on the rarely played “E Street Shuffle,” from 1973′s The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle.
The rest of the main set included a number of crowd pleasing moments, including the Temptations/Pickett medley which featured Bruce’s crowd-surfing, the now-familiar device of having a child in the audience get on the mic to sing The Rising‘s “Waiting On A Sunny Day,” and classics including “The Promised Land,” “The Rising,” “Lonesome Day” and “Thunder Road.”
The second set featured Wrecking Ball‘s “Rocky Ground” (including the rap by guest artist Michelle Moore) and “Land Of Hope and Dreams,” “Born To Run” and “Dancing In The Dark” (both of which featured Jake Clemons playing the sax solos), “American Land” and finally, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.”
The show, which lasted nearly two and a half hours, featured 23 different songs, ten from his new album, six from the ’70s, one from the ’80s and four from 2002′s The Rising. Springsteen historically changes set lists a bit each night early in a tour, but will probably rely heavily on the new album, at least for the first part of the tour. The tour hits Greensboro, North Carolina tonight, and the U.S. tour ends on May 2 in Newark, New Jersey.
For more information on last night’s show, check out Atlanta station DAVE-FM’s account of the show here.