Sunday, April 22, 2012

Springsteen Sundays: My Dream Setlist for the E-Street Band's San Jose Show on April 24th!

Bruce and Steve playing in Greensboro
Photo courtesy Backstreets.Com - Taken by A.M. Saddler
Welcome to Springsteen Sundays, my weekly column celebrating my favorite musician, personal hero, and all his awesome musical friends: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band!

Speaking of which, I hear the boys are on tour right now, and since the first US leg won’t be stopping by my hometown of Denver, Colorado, I’m flying out to northern California to catch this Tuesday’s San Jose show at the HP Pavilion!  In fact, by the time you read this, I’ll already be in San Francisco seeing the sights to distract from my rabid anticipation as much as possible.  In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a young guy, and this will be the first Bruce show I’ve ever gone to (though I have all his live DVDs and over 24 hours of live recordings in iTunes, so I feel like I’ve been before).  Thus, my current level of excitement is approximately off the charts. 

To bide time until the show, I’ve come up with my personal Dream Setlist for the San Jose show, and you can read all about it – and hopefully comment with your own Setlist! – after the jump….

Realizing this setlist project might take a bit of work, I decided to tackle it as logically and methodically as possible: I started by going into my iTunes library, looking at all my Springsteen music, and writing down the names of every song I’d like to see performed live. 

Five minutes later, when I’d typed roughly 100 song titles and still had about half my library to go through, I realized that this was the stupidest way I could go about this project.  I love just about every one of Bruce’s songs, so it’s unlikely I have the discipline to whittle them all down into some sort of mythical ‘dream’ setlist. 

So I scrapped that idea and decided I should just try planning a good (hypothetical) show, using setlists from recent Wrecking Ball shows as a basic framework.  The final product definitely favors my personal Springsteen tastes – I made sure to get my absolute favorite songs in there – but apart from one or two flourishes, it’s not a setlist that’s completely out of the question for this tour. 

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the setlist, with notes describing my choices:

Dream Setlist – San Jose, April 24th

Wrecking Ball
Prove it All Night
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
The E-Street Shuffle

I like “We Take Care of Our Own” a whole hell of a lot, but for my first Bruce show, I’d love nothing more than to start with “Badlands,” and lucky for me, Bruce actually did this during the recent New York shows, so it’s not out of the question.  The rest of the progression is pretty close to the early set-lists, because I think it’s a pretty stellar way to start the show.  For the slots where he’s been swapping out various classics, I put in “Prove it” and “E-Street Shuffle,” because I’ve always wanted to hear them live, and “E-Street,” at least, absolutely killed at the Apollo show.

Restless Nights
Ain’t Good Enough for You
Where the Bands Are
Racing in the Street
Take ‘em as they Come
Out in the Street

Here’s where I get inventive.  Studying recent setlists, this is a spot where Bruce has opened the song choices up, so I felt free to go nuts; I took out “Jack of All Trades” – which I love, but don’t necessarily need to see – and put in a series of favorites: “Restless Nights” for Steve and “Ain’t Good” for me.  Continuing with the classic outtakes, “Where the Bands Are” is an awesome Tracks song that would sound amazing in concert, and “Take ‘em” is probably one of my two or three favorite Bruce songs of all time.  “Racing in the Street” goes without saying, and would be a nice calm-down after the energy of the preceding numbers (and he has played it recently, so maybe…).  “Out in the Street” is such a fun live song, and it’s apparently gone over fantastically in recent shows, so there it is.   

Shackled and Drawn
The Promise
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
American Skin (41 Shots)

Going back to the established setlists, this group is close to a number of the early shows, except for “The Promise.”  He’s played it once so far as of this writing, and I need to hear it.  As you know, I think it’s his best song.  “Shackled” was there early on until “Easy Money” usurped its spot for a number of shows, but I like “Shackled” a lot more, so it’s here.  The others are just ones I’m excited to hear live: I love “Sunny Day,” “Promised Land” is my favorite Bruce song, and “Trapped” and “American Skin” are two fantastic live exclusives I’d go crazy for.    

Mary’s Place
Thunder Road

Recent shows have usually put a Rising song next, and I’ve always wanted to hear “Mary’s Place” live, so there it is.  I think that signals the start of the main set’s climax pretty well, so I then went to one of the most thrilling, climactic songs in the catalogue: “Backstreets.”  It just made its tour debut as of this writing, so it’s not out of the question.  And finally, I trusted Bruce’s judgment for the main set closer: why would I ever deny the perfection of “Thunder Road?”  I thought about ending my ‘dream’ show with “Rosalita,” but as much as I love the song, I just don’t have a burning desire to hear it without Clarence at the moment (same goes for “Jungleland” and a number of others left off this setlist). 

Encore #1
Rocky Ground
Land of Hope and Dreams
Born to Run

For the first encore, I cut-and-paste exactly what Bruce did in the early shows.  “Rocky Ground” is my favorite new composition from Wrecking Ball, and “Land of Hope and Dreams” is probably in my personal top-ten songs, so I have to hear them.  Do I need to explain “Born to Run?”  Bruce and the Band got this encore 100% perfect, and who am I to mess with perfection?

Encore #2
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Detroit Medley
Raise Your Hand
Tenth-Avenue Freeze Out

This isn’t a likely encore – both for its length and song selection – but it’s what I’d like to hear.  “4th of July” is such a beautiful piece, and while there’s been a consistent Clarence tribute on this tour, there hasn’t been one for organist Danny Federici, so I’d love for the Band to break it out.  The “Detroit Medley” was used on the Born to Run, Darkness, and River tours, and the live recordings I have of it – particularly from the Hammersmith/Odeon ’75 show – are just an unholy amount of fun.  The same can be said of “Raise Your Hand,” which I never thought would be used until the Band performed it a few weeks ago in Boston!  So I really, really, really hope we get it in San Jose.  And then we need “Tenth-Avenue,” which Bruce has effortlessly transformed into a stirring Clarence tribute – a perfect way to end the show. 

So there you have it!  My Dream Setlist for San Jose!  If they actually play 28 songs including two encores, I would be a happy, happy fan.  But whatever Bruce comes up, I’m sure we can trust it to be suitably amazing.

If you’re attending the San Jose show, or any other upcoming venue, what do you hope Bruce and the Band will play?  Sound off in the comments!  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  


  1. This is actually somewhat similar to the Los Angeles show I saw with my dad two days later on April 26th, and funny, it was my first too! My dad had seen about a dozen before, and this time he took me, his 13-year-old daughter. (I'm 14 now.) We started off with "Badlands", and I got a huge adrenaline rush and even began to cry tears of joy. It was also really nice to welcome Jake into the band with his first sax solo of the night, even though he really never can replace Clarence. Then we got "We Take Care of Our Own", "Wrecking Ball", and "The Ties That Bind", followed by "Death to My Hometown", "My City of Ruins", "The E Street Shuffle", and then a short monologue before "Jack of All Trades" explaining the message behind it. Then the show got wired again after "Something in the Night" when we got into "Candy's Room", then "She's the One", "Easy Money", "Waitin' On A Sunny Day", "The Promised Land", and then the "Apollo Medley". We were all delighted to see Tom Morello take the stage to join Springsteen in "The Ghost of Tom Joad", which was just legendary. When that sadly had to come to an end, we got "Lonesome Day" and "The Rising", two great songs to play back-to-back. I was really glad to see them. After that came "We Are Alive" and "Land of Hope and Dreams", which were just beyond words with the addition of the horns. The band took their first bow, which was followed by "Rocky Ground", "California Sun", and then the necessary "Born to Run". As a huge fan, it was just a great feeling to just be part of the crowd's voice. I personally thought "Dancing in the Dark" live was even better than the original version, especially with the horns. Last came, of course, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", with a tribute to Clarence that brought tears to my eyes. It was great to see they recognized Danny too.
    So that was the night my life was completely changed. Unfortunately I was born in '98 instead of the '60s, so I didn't have the chance to follow Bruce from the beginning. I became a regular fan over the last two or three years, but on April 26th I became a diehard Tramp, and I've become even more so ever since. I read everything I could find on Bruce after than, I loaded all of my dad's Springsteen CDs to my iPod (note that even before that, I couldn't stand modern pop or most rap any more than I can now, with the exception to "Rocky Ground" and the pop Springsteen songs--I was born and raised a rock n' roll girl), and I even began reading one of his biographies Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock N' Roll... (to be continued)

  2. I watched his live concert DVDs on my laptop over the summer, and now my mom says I scare her with how much trivia I know. I know all the lyrics to most of Bruce's songs, and I got a growing hunger to see another show. It was more like a need to go again. So when my dad offered to take me to the December 4th show (which I was planning on asking him about the day later, just before the tickets went on sale) I didn't hesitate for a second. It was four days before my birthday, and that was by far the greatest night of my life, and the single best birthday present anybody has ever gotten. My dad told me of all the shows he's seen, that was by far one of the best. (You've probably already heard of this site, but go here for the 12-4-12 setlist--it was just loaded with incredible songs. ) Most of all, I fell in love with Springsteen's lyrics. I can tell they really brought me closer to maturity, and ever since April I didn't care about what others thought of me anymore, or who to crush on next, or even TV shows. It just didn't matter. I really began caring about the morals of the songs I loved, like social justice, faith, true love, politics, the economy, should get that I can only name a few. Springsteen has and will always be a huge part of my life, and nothing I could ever say or do could repay my dad for making that happen (my mom's more of a Journey fan, and even though I love Journey there's only one Boss). I'm hoping it doesn't take too long for another album (I'm hoping maybe 2016?), and I'm sure we'll get a song to Clarence next time.

    P.S. You're really lucky to have seen "Out In The Streets", my dad and I've both been wanting to see it live for a long time! (Well, for my dad, he's wanted to see it again, and me for the first time.) It's got a great tune, and I love the chant the audience gets to sing, it adds a perfect touch. Hopefully he'll play it whenever I see a third show, and I'm crossing my fingers that'll be around fall 2012.