THE BLOG
05/18/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

HuffPost Review : Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Los Angeles Sports Arena

On Thursday, around 8:20pm, there was a revival held in the Los Angeles Sports Arena's very big tent that welcomed 17,000 true Springsteen believers for the second night in a row. Working their way through twenty-six songs -- over two-and-a-half hours of almost non-stop old and new classics -- Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band brought their rock anthems to Southern California for the second of a two night stint, whipping the mostly maturing crowd into a participation frenzy. In fact, almost as mesmerizing as what was happening onstage was what was playing out among these Boss devotees. Though it seems almost implausible that, after having seen a lifetime's worth of this troop's electrifying performances, one still could still be energized to this degree, the crowd took their cues from the band and shouted indelibly memorized lyrics to all the melodies they loved while dancing, waiving hands, and embracing the moderately rebellious post-high school and college kids they still were.

"Badlands" launched the party with Springsteen calling guitarist Steve Van Zandt over to his microphone for the first of many shared vocals and poses during the show. "Is there anyone alive in Los Angeles?" The Boss asked before he commenced with the explosive "Candy's Room" which galloped into the operatic spaghetti western, "Outlaw Pete." The folksy tale unfolded with time-lapsed, widescreen images displayed behind the performers that often contributed as much as any band member in telling the story. For one of the breakdown sections, the singer donned a cowboy hat and the spotlight to wrench even more drama from the lyrics. But these theatrical moments were used sparingly throughout the concert, so the music and performances were always the stars of the show. Guitar trios of Bruce, Steve, and Nils Lofgren occurred less frequently than on past tours, but Soozie Tyrell's flaming violin solos -- and there were many -- were pretty dynamic and balanced things out sonically and visually. On the other hand, Garry Tallent was just fine filling in the gaps with his frequent scale wanderings and subdued stage presence. Variations on patented antics included Springsteen grabbing posters of song titles from the audience and using them as performance introductions; The Boss' piano-hopping on "Raise Your Hand"; flirting with the crowd on three small extended catwalks; mic-ing audience members during sing-outs (especially one wee nipper on "Growin' Up"); and a very gracious nod to Los Angeles' Regional Food Bank before commencing a six-song encore.

There also were a few surprises such as "Proud Mary" making the set (it was last heard on the 2004 Vote For Change tour with John Fogerty), and the sudden emergence of Max Weinberg's son, Jay, who officially was initiated as an E Street drummer on a couple songs (fyi, Pops Weinberg is now part of The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien). Also, after referring to L.A. as being the "home of some of my favorite musicians," Springsteen brought out Social Distortion's Mike Ness to sing and play on "Bad Luck" (aka "Cry, Cry, Cry") and "The Rising" that also featured the Weinberg kid on drums. Other highlights of the night were the roof-blowing "Born To Run," the hopeful Stephen Foster tune "Hard Times Come Again No More" (played as the first encore number, right after the Food Bank endorsement), the dual accordion workouts (featuring Roy Bittan) on the jig "American Land," and "Youngstown" with its haunting Bob Seger-ish "Turn The Page" melody. All of Clarence's sax breaks were as glamorous as his wardrobe, every one of Springsteen's guitar solos thundered, and the crowd-co-opted, final song, "Glory Days," was the perfect adrenaline nite-cap that included audience call and responses plus The Boss riffing to Van Zandt about getting a cheeseburger and donning PJs since it was time to go.

If you haven't been to one of Springsteen's shows in a while, you need to catch this tour, if for no other reason, just to have an extremely good time. The comparatively more youthful spirit of albums like Born In The U.S.A. that was revisited on his latest project, Working On A Dream, has spread to the concert setting where virtually every song, regardless of its depth and sincerity, are more fun than ever.

Set List:
Badlands
Candy's Room
Outlaw Pete
No Surrender
Adam Raised A Cain
Working On A Dream
Seeds
Johnny 99
Youngstown
Raise Your Hand
Proud Mary
Growin' Up
Hungry Heart
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Backstreets
Bad Luck - with Mike Ness
Lonesome Day
The Rising - with Mike Ness
Born To Run

Encores:
Hard Times Come Again No More
Thunder Road
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Land Of Hope And Dreams
American Land
Glory Days