NO flashing wrist bands, no mini stage, no pyros, no mega light show – just a man and his band belting it out.

Even the video screen was a bit low-fi but it didn’t matter as Bruce Springsteen quite simply relies on the music and with a huge back catalogue to choose from there was plenty of it – over three hours in fact!

From the splendid opening classic of Badlands to a blistering encore that included Springsteen hits like Thunder Road, Born to Run, Hungry Heart, Glory Days and Dancing in the Dark, the tracks kept coming.

Springsteen bantered with the audience throughout making light of the damp conditions and even invited a couple of ‘blokes’ to dance – quite badly – on stage to recreate the Dancing in the Dark video.

As rock shows go this was quite a momentous moment for the city and it seemed surreal at times to hear Bruce Springsteen say ‘hello Sunderland’ – thankfully not repeating Bowie’s clanger of ‘hello Newcastle’ back in 1987 at Roker Park!

Fans making the trip to the Stadium of Light tacitly knew that this probably was their last chance to see Springsteen with his E-street band on this scale and roared their approval.

Tanned and super-fit, the 62-year-old star skipped and bounded around the stage with the energy of a teenager as his band pounded away behind him, creating a marathon rock event which kept the crowd in fine voice.

The most poignant moment of the evening was Springsteen’s rendition of The River – a song of fading love set against a fading economy.  Performed on the site of a former colliery just yards from a river that once thrived on the back of shipbuilding, gave extra resonance to this classic song from 1980.

Personally I find over three hours is a long time for a rock show, no matter how big the star, and with a PA system that was a little on the quiet side, there were times during the ballads when audience chatter was audible alongside the music.

However Springsteen fanatics could probably listen to him play all day and on the whole the visit of The Boss to Sunderland was a triumph. The E-street band as a performing unit are a ‘tour de force’ with camaraderie and top class musicianship on display and to get to hear songs like Born to Run and Hungry Heart live was a treat in itself

Andy Barker.

SETLIST

Badlands
We Take Care Of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?
Jack of All Trades
Youngstown
Murder Incorporated
Johnny 99
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
Point Blank
The River
The Rising
Out in the Street
Land of Hope and Dreams

Encore
We Are Alive
Thunder Road
Born to Run
Hungry Heart
Seven Nights to Rock
(Moon Mullican cover)
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out