Three Shows In Nine Days — A Recap [Originally posted on FB 05.12.09]

My concert season for 2009 actually began in February. The first week of that month is when tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Working on a Dream’ tour went on sale. So, since then I knew that May was going to be at the very least eventful. Little did I know how emotional and in fact life-changing the events would be.

Show # 1

May 2, 2009

Greensboro, North Carolina
Greensboro Coliseum


Radio Nowhere

Outlaw Pete

No Surrender

Working On A Dream


Johnny 99

The Ghost of Tom Joad

Raise Your Hand

Seventh Son

Hang On Sloopy

Growin’ Up

I’m On Fire

Waiting On A Sunny Day

The Promised Land

Human Touch

Kingdom Of Days

Lonesome Day

The Rising

Born To Run

Cadillac Ranch

Hard Times

Thunder Road

10th Avenue Freeze-Out

Land Of Hope And Dreams

American Land

Glory Days

I know it is pointless to reduce a show to simply the set list, but I wanted to post that first. I saw this show with my friend Meg, who was unable to get tickets to the Charlottesville show and thus happily agreed to drive to Greensboro to see this show with me.

The coolest thing about this show was our vantage point. We had seats behind the stage. I really liked being able to see the techs tuning the guitars before they would sprint onstage to hand them to Bruce. Seeing some bands from this vantage point would be a letdown or boring but I know that Bruce and the band play to the whole arena, whether you are on the floor among the masses, in the nosebleeds in the back, or behind the band.

Since drummer Max Weinberg will have to miss some shows in June to appear on Conan O’Brien’s revamped late show, the band has been ‘teaching’ Max’s eighteen year old son Jay. By teaching I mean splitting drumming duty with his dad onstage. Jay was behind the set at the start for the instantly recognizable intro to ‘Badlands’ and it only took me a few seconds to know that Jay packs as much power and precision on the kit as his dad. And, to look at him play, he is literally a ‘Mini-Max’ with the same arm action and concentrated gestures. The only difference I could discern [aside from the hair] is Max’s kick drum foot is a bit heavier, but Jay will get that with time. Jay is definitely adding to the fire and exuberance that the E Street Band display every night.

Having read some previous set lists, I was looking forward to hearing ‘Seeds’ [a song only available on the ‘Live 1975-85 box set] and ‘Johnny 99.’ The only versions I had heard of ‘Johnny 99’ were quiet solo acoustic affairs, which suited the lyric [it’s about a man sentenced to death row after killing a man]. Hearing the blistering full-on version from the band, I began to wonder if it was wrong that a song about a man who is about to die for murder should have people dancing in the aisles?

As I expected, Bruce had some surprises. Max came out to play the second half of the set [from ‘Raise Your Hand’ onward] and, it seems on this tour that the signs from fans are not always requests for Bruce songs, but instead its almost like a game of ‘Stump the Band’. Greensboro was no exception when the band played [maybe for the first time EVER?] Johnny Rivers’ hit from the sixties, ‘Seventh Son.’ The sixties flashback continued with an extended sing-along/jam version of ‘Hang On Sloopy’, even after Little Steven said at first the song was ‘too hard’. Next followed one of the songs I have wanted to hear live ever since I got the Live box set for Christmas in 1986: ‘Growin’ Up’.

Rather than bore you with my thoughts on everything that followed, I’ll sum it up with this: After six years and three concerts, that night in Greensboro was also the first time I heard ‘Thunder Road’ in concert. Hearing thousands sing back the line [and singing myself as well] ‘Show a little faith / There’s magic in the night..’ is the moment I will always remember, and further proof that concerts can be magical; ending with ‘Glory Days’ was simply icing on the cake.

Upon returning to Richmond the next afternoon, I had one thing on my mind. After getting through the day Monday, I was ready for my second Bruce show in four days on Tuesday.

Show #2:

May 5, 2009

Charlottesville, Virginia
John Paul Jones Arena


Adam Raised A Cain

Outlaw Pete

Candy’s Room

Working On A Dream


Johnny 99


The Ghost Of Tom Joad

Raise Your Hand

You Really Got Me

Spirit In The Night

Gypsy Biker

Waiting On A Sunny Day

The Promised Land

The Wrestler

Kingdom Of Days

Radio Nowhere

Lonesome Day

The Rising

Born To Run

Hard Times

Thunder Road

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

Land Of Hope And Dreams

American Land

Detroit Medley

I attended this show with two dear friends, Trudy and Eddie. This was their first Springsteen show so, even after seeing the show the previous Saturday night in North Carolina, I stayed quiet regarding set list specifics, knowing that the only real guarantee was a) a good time would be had and b) we were gonna hear Born To Run.

For this show, Max started behind the kit, which made me happy because that’s who Eddie and Trudy were expecting to see. Jay Weinberg played the second half of the set this time, starting with ‘Raise Your Hand.’ Stump the Band reappeared, this time with a request for The Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’, and the band didn’t disappoint. That was followed by ‘Spirit in the Night’ a classic that never gets old.

Musical highlights for me were ‘Tom Joad’ [the solos in that rang in my head for hours the next day], ‘Adam Raised a Cain’ [always one of my favorites], ‘Candy’s Room’ [a wonderful surprise from the ‘Darkness…’ album] and, once again ‘Thunder Road’, which I didn’t expect to hear since it was played in Greensboro.

The true highlight of the evening though was seeing the show with two friends, and watching the show thru their eyes. Whether it was seeing Trudy dancing in the aisle during ‘You Really Got Me’ or Eddie turning to me in amazement during ‘Spirit in the Night’, I enjoyed watching them as much as the show I paid for. The time spent with them, be it in the parking lot before the show, in the car, or seeing the show, made it an evening I will always hold dear.

As expected, each of us has agreed to catch Bruce the next time he’s close by. What I did not expect is that each of us actually showed up for work the next day; still not sure how I managed that.

That brings us to Show #3. Leonard Cohen at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland on Monday May, 11. I have tickets to many shows this year, and, each show is special. This show, however, is one I never thought would happen, or one I never thought I would have a chance to see. I’ve been a fan of Cohen’s since hearing his songs during my senior year of high school, and last year after seeing the movie ‘I’m Your Man’ I really began to wish and hope I could see Cohen in concert, knowing full well the man is in his early seventies [he’s 74 now] , so I never thought he would tour.

Thank God I was wrong.

I saw the show with my mom who wasn’t a fan initially but, I would play a song on the iPod and she would ask, ‘Wait, he wrote that? I like that song!’ So, with GPS in hand, mom agreed to venture north to Maryland to share this with me.

We had great seats [fifth row center] and immediately struck up a conversation with a woman named Karen who brought her son along to see the show. She was thrilled that there were ‘so many other people who [were] fans’ because, in everyday life, it seems a Leonard Cohen fan is hard to find. We were surrounded by thousands of like minds, and it was wonderful.

There is something that can’t be explained, sitting in a packed audience, listening to Leonard Cohen sing the chorus to ‘Anthem’ while the rain hits the pavilion roof. It was one of those moments in my life where I literally thought to myself ‘You’re here. This is an event. Take it all in because it will all end too soon.’

And end it did, but not before Leonard and his incomparable group of musicians played for well over three hours, with four encores and only a brief intermission halfway through. He’s seventy-four, but he sprinted onstage and off, danced, knelt before the audience on several occasions [and to my mother’s amazement, was able to get back up], all with a glint in his eye, like all of us were now party to a long-kept secret.

It was a cold, rainy night but Leonard and his band managed to make the huge pavilion seem like a living room; luxurious and quiet, rambunctious and bawdy. Let me take a moment to applaud those souls out on the lawn. As soaked as they must have been, they didn’t seem to notice the rain or care.

I knew that the evening was going to be an emotional rollercoaster. For the most part, it was a jubilant affair and there were smiles and screams of approval.

Then he played ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ and everyone else around me seemed to disappear. All I could do was stand in awe, near tears.

Here’s the setlist from the show, though, as I said about Bruce, the evening can’t be boiled down to a list of songs. If Leonard Cohen is coming to your town, don’t ask questions, JUST GO! [And yes Jenne, this means you…;)]

First Set

• Dance Me To The End Of Love

• The Future

• Ain’t No Cure For Love

• Bird On The Wire

• Everybody Knows

• In My Secret Life

• Who By Fire

• Chelsea Hotel #2

• Waiting For The Miracle

• Anthem

Second Set

• Tower Of Song

• Suzanne

• The Gypsy’s Wife

• The Partisan

• Boogie Street

• Hallelujah

• I’m Your Man

• A Thousand Kisses Deep (poem)

• Take This Waltz


• So Long, Marianne

• First We Take Manhattan

• Famous Blue Raincoat

• If It Be Your Will

• Democracy

• I Tried To Leave You

• Whither Thou Goest

Thanks again to Meg, Eddie, Trudy and Mom for being there and getting me there. And thanks to you for reading.

[Springsteen set lists taken from; Cohen setlist taken from bulletin board post by member westminster21157]