IT was more like born to rain as wet weather and fog threatened to put a dampener on Bruce Springsteen’s debut performance in Sunderland.
But The Boss was never going to disappoint his legion of fans – more than 50,000 in fact – who travelled from across Wearside and beyond to see the first night of his Wrecking Ball UK tour.
“Sunderland, this is what it’s supposed to be like,” he yelled in his inimitable gravelly tones as he arrived on stage. “I don’t want 75degrees and sunny. When I come to Sunderland, England, I want it just like this.”
From that moment on, it didn’t really matter what the weather threw at the crowd – their hero was on stage and that’s all that seemed to count.
This was the first time I’d seen Springsteen live and he proved to be as impressive as his fans had promised.
You can’t fault his enthusiasm and passion which was etched across his face as he gave emotion-fuelled performances of tracks from Wrecking Ball, such as We Take Care of Our Own, Land of Hope and Dreams and the title track.
He was given a warm Wearside welcome by a sea of outstretched arms and ponchos, some fans draped in U.S flags in homage to the rocker’s home country.
Clad in black jeans, grey shirt and waistcoat, Bruce’s outfit and his stage was plain and simple, but this was about the music: no gimmicks, no effects, just rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form.
In keeping with this, Bruce was, of course, backed up by top-class musicians in the form of his E Street Band. Guitar, saxophone, harmonica, trumpet, violin and more – they played them to perfection.
At times slow and mournful, such as with The River, other times rousing, like during Hungry Heart, this was a show which ran the whole gamut of emotions.
Never more so than when they paid tribute to late E Street Band saxophone player, Clarence Clemons, with a montage of images of the great musician.
Bruce seemed genuinely appreciative of the fans who had paid at least £55 to be there and two of them were given the ultimate reward when they were given the chance to bop alongside their hero for Dancing in the Dark.
The two lads chosen were no Courteney Cox, who was plucked from the crowd in the song’s video, but they gave it their all.
It was inevitably the more classic Springsteen tracks which drew the greatest crowd reaction. Thunder Road, Born to Run and Glory Days were given a roaring reception at the home of the Black Cats. Even the club’s bosses Martin O’Neill and Ellis Short were spotted near the front of the stage, lapping up the atmosphere.
In true Springsteen style, Bruce put in a lengthy performance at more than three hours. And, for a 62-year-old, he never let up. There was no mistaking who was The Boss of that stage.