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Concert Reviews:
Bruce Springsteen Makes "Magic" At The Palace
 

By Gary Graff
Of the Oakland Press

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AUBURN HILLS -- Five Championship Drive became Magic Street on Monday night (Nov. 5), courtesy of Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band.

Some devotees worried that a confluence of factors might result in a more "typical" kind of performance Monday -- though in Springsteen's case "typical" is a rarefied standard in its own right. Nevertheless, a blockbuster show in Cleveland the night before, a weak (sic) night booking in these parts and a well below capacity crowd seemed to stack the odds against getting something special at the Palace.

But in his sixth Detroit area appearance in as many years -- but first with the E Street Band since 2004 -- Springsteen and company delivered another powerhouse with enough treats and surprises, as well as energy, to render those concerns moot.

It didn't hurt that the nine songs from his latest album, the chart-topping "Magic," proved well-suited to live performance -- particularly the show-opening rocker "Radio Nowhere," the pensive "Gypsy Biker," the dynamically rich "Devil's Arcade" and the ringing "I'll Work For Your Love," making its debut appearance on the tour and providing a perfect preface for "Tunnel of Love." Springsteen, who met with Motown star and Detroit City Councilwoman Martha Reeves before the show also unsheathed "Jackson Cage" from 1980's "The River."

And during the encores he grabbed a sign from a young fan in the front row asking for "Ramrod," delivering a spirited rendition of the song (instead of the planned "Kitty's Back") and noting that "this kid's been rockin' all night long! My kid's 16; he'd be asleep by now."

Mostly, however, the show worked because of Springsteen's well-established knack for finding a thematic pulse and structuring the repertoire around that, finding an ebb and flow that manages to make its points while still raising the roof in an expression of rock 'n' roll salvation. That the shows on this tour are shorter than the E Street Band marathons of yore -- the Palace's 23-song set clocked in at about two hours and five minutes -- does not diminish their impact; on Monday, in fact, it made for a punchy and potent exposition whose energy level never flagged.

The central tenant of Springsteen's show was still voiced in "Badlands," when he declares his belief in faith and hope and their ability to raise him -- and his audience -- about the tribulations of everyday life. But these are troubled times, and Springsteen's new songs voice his concerns, as did his introductions to "Magic" and "Living in the Future," the latter of which met with some boos from the same fans who were singing along to the sha-la-la's at the end of the song. But carefully crafted song tandems -- "Magic" with a shuffling rendition of "Reason to Believe," "Living in the Future" leading into "Promised Land," and an ending run of "Devil's Arcade," "The Rising," Last to Die" and "Long Walk Home" before "Badlands" -- provided a context for the evening that required no rhetorical embellishment for those who were paying attention.

And those who weren't? They still had a fine time, raising their fists and pounding their feet for anthems such as "Night," "She's the One," "Born to Run" and "Dancing in the Dark," and jigging along to the Celtic-flavored show-closer "American Land," a pointed celebration of the country's immigrant heritage whose notion that "There's treasure for the taking, for any working man/Who will make his home in the American land" was as much a hope for the future as a salute to the past.



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