Bruce Springsteen @ AAMI Park (with Dan Sultan and Hunters & Collectors) – 15 Feb ’14

Earlier than usual start for a Saturday evening gig, walking at a frantic pace to get to the venue then practically circumnavigating the entire stadium to get to the entrance and find seats. Dan Sultan was already on stage, and hearing ‘Under Your Skin’ blasting through the open roof only increased keenness to get inside.

The problem – the cheap seats – it takes a while to get there when you’re navigating through all the aimlessly wandering bodies but managed to get a couple of songs in, including ‘Kimberley Calling’. The absolute opposite of hearing this at Dan’s more intimate solo tour last year, this was bold, loud and with a band in tow the new material had evolved into a different beast, more likely to be what we’ll hear on that upcoming album release (April, and counting down!)

Dan Sultan @ AAMI Park

Dan Sultan @ AAMI Park

The opportunities to see Hunters and Collectors live are limited, but their support slot cemented how brilliant the band is, not to mention the absolute credit and legacy to Australian rock. ‘Talking to a Stranger’ packed a punch to open and things only got better from there.

There was absolutely nothing to fault with precision in delivery and the quintessential blend of rock, horns and iconic Australian references that have stood the test of time to deliver truly classic sounds. Songs that barely needed an introduction, the all too familiar hooks and riffs delivered from the stage distinguishing songs purely by sound if not by name.

Hunters & Collectors @ AAMI Park

Hunters & Collectors @ AAMI Park

We were taken on a tour of Australia, from Broken Hill to St Kilda, the impressive horn solos dominated ‘Blind Eye’ and ‘Tears of Joy’ was sheer brilliance, before being introduced to a revamped version of ‘Throw Your Arms Around Me’ taking a stance on prevalent issues.

Mark Seymour said that he was proud of the band because they know how to work hard. You can’t disagree with that – absolute legends! Close to an hour later, everything wrapped up but thankfully there are still tickets in my hands for to see the Hunnas two more times on their tour…things to look forward to in March and April.

Then it was time for The Boss. But not just The Boss, because that voice came through loudly… followed by a thunderous roar

I’m sorry, he said what???!!!

Yes, it took a moment or two to register and a nudge and repeat from my gig buddy but it finally sunk in. This wasn’t just Bruce Springsteen, but Eddie Vedder was there as well. I’d been anticipating an appearance later in the night since Eddie’s solo tour was announced back in December. Seriously have never been prouder to be wearing a Pearl Jam t-shirt…and I felt sorry for those poor people around me…

Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder @ AAMI Park

Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder @ AAMI Park

But ‘Highway to Hell’ – need I say more? An absolutely killer opening and I was there to hear it, while the screens helped see what was actually happening on stage. Absolutely brilliant and having Bruce and Eddie on this one was honestly the highlight of the night followed by a stirring duet on ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ before Eddie left all too soon (no guessing where my loyalties lie).

And the show went on, back to ‘Badlands’, to ‘High Hopes’ and everything in between. Tom Morello was back, and Stevie Van Zandt was on the road too after being absent from the 2013 tour, which could only mean good times ahead.

We didn’t get to hear ‘Born in the USA’ last year on the Wrecking Ball tour – but this time, we did. And not just the song, but the entire album from start to finish. Every. Single. Song. Talk about special, and something that probably won’t happen again (at least not any time soon).

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ AAMI Park

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band @ AAMI Park

Seeing song requests pulled from audience signs is part of the protocol during a Bruce Springsteen show, with ‘Joel Blon’ and ‘Hungry Heart’ signs already making their way to the stage. It’s not every day though when you see two guys pulled up onto the stage with their sign, during ‘Dancing in the Dark’ requesting not a dance with The Boss, but with Cindy one of the incredible backup singers. To top it off, these guys were fully decked out in their Cindy wigs and danced around the stage like the fan boys they were and had everyone laughing along. Bruce had a partner too, thanks to another sign requesting their mum’s wish to come true for a dance.

‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ was a shared effort between Bruce and Tom Morello, joining the E Street Band again for the tour but there is no denying that this is Tom’s jam…he owns this and is amazing to watch with crowd roars in appreciation for some truly mesmerising guitar work.

There was no end in sight, the chemistry between Bruce and Stevie on stage was that which could only come through a special bond spanning many years, and the band only seemed more fired up to continue as the night went on.

So over 30 songs later and approaching midnight it was over with Bruce on stage without the fanfare for ‘Thunder Road’. Surely no one was expecting an early night?

That’s why The Boss is The Boss, even from the cheap seats.

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