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Just another night for The Boss: 30 songs, three-plus hours

By Rick Koster

Publication: theday.com

Published May 18. 2014 10:53AM   Updated May 19. 2014 12:15AM
Tim Martin/The Day
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform in the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Saturday, May 17, 2014.

Mohegan — Over the course of a four-plus-decade career that’s included 18 studio albums, membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, fierce street cred and — if my math is correct — 2,285 universally exulted concerts, Bruce Springsteen seems to have gotten along just fine without any significant endorsement from Little Ricky Koster.

But it’s never too late to help out, right?

Saturday in the Mohegan Sun Arena, I attended what might be described as the Vespers service at the First Connecticut Church of Springsteen and his E Street Band. For, indeed, the 10,000 fans who showed up fairly wriggled with the sort of excitement and fervor one associates with religious folks handling vipers.

But while it was the first time I’d seen Springsteen, I’d have to have spent the last 40 years on Pluto to be unaware of the man’s sterling reputation for his delivery of anthemic and committed songs dedicated to the lives, loves, triumphs and sorrows of Johnny Everyman.

Let me just say, then, that it was a tremendous 30-song, three-hour and 10-minute experience.

As a frontman and band leader, Springsteen — seemingly in finer shape at 64 than many folks recently drafted in the National Football League — couldn’t be more genuine or emotionally invested in what he does. This isn’t Bret Michaels or Justin Bieber greedily lapping up the treasures of pop stardom they’ve been lucky enough to tap into.

Springsteen IS his music — and, to provide muscular structure to his message and stories, he and his 18-piece band churn out exuberant, basic Heartland rock ’n’ roll that’s as anchored in the past as it is in his romantic vision for what the future could be. (Special kudos for the tapesty-broadening and respective guitar fireworks from Tom Morello, Nils Lofgren and newly returned Stevie Van Zandt.)

There were the hits, the rarities, the clever covers — including the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive.” Springsteen crowd-surfed, guzzled an entire crowd-proffered beer, slow-waltzed with an overcome fan on “Dancing in the Dark,” and generally gave every bit of spirit and energy he had — same as it ever was, amen.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed again Sunday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

r.koster@theday.com

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