Tramps like us…

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 “If you’re here, and we’re here, they’re here…”

That was Bruce’s message from the stage at the Olympic Stadium, a refrain of recognition for absent friends that was one of the many memorable moments in what was described in the Berlin media as a “furioses Konzert,” and over three hours of “Gospel, Soul und Rock’n’ Roll.”

And it was. From the opening song of “When I Leave Berlin”, a 1973 song from Wizz Jones performed especially for the Berlin crowd (video above), through to the final bars of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” 28 songs longer, it was clear they had arrived in the German capital in top form. Everyone will have their own highlights from such an expansive set-list, that included many of the tracks from the new Wrecking Ball album (personal highlight was the foot-stomping “Shackled and Drawn”) as well as heavy collection of arms-aloft greatest hits.

For me the best moments came with the songs that have the most nostalgic impact. This means the tracks from the Born to Run album, which may have been released four yeats before I was born, and yet still manages to make me yearn for those “soft infested summer” evenings as a teenager…  OK, so Bruce’s late sixties, early seventies New Jersey is not exactly mid-nineties West Lancashire, but the emotions are, I think, universal… which is why the music has spoken to some many people over so many decades.

Then there were the more political moments, with genuine anger in the delivery, and celebratory moments, and reflections on the 1988 concert Bruce and the E Street Band played in Weißensee, East Berlin, and of course the farewell to Clarence in the final “Tenth Avenue” when the Olympic Stadium was quiet for the first time in three hours, except for the warm applause of nearly 60,000 people as images of the Big Man flashed up on the screens.

Words & (Blurry Mobile) Pictures: Paul Scraton

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