Last Friday I was lucky enough to attend the first of Bruce Springsteen's two sold-out shows at Wrigley Field. I knew I'd be going the second the shows were announced: my father is a huge Springsteen fan, and I don't think he's ever missed a Chicago tour stop. Because my dad was so obsessed, the Boss was my first concert, and the opening snare-drum hits and synth notes of Born in the U.S.A. (released six months before I was born) are the first sounds I can remember hearing. Growing up I was fed a steady diet of Springsteen, on record and in the stadium, and the songs I've grown to really appreciate are the dark, brooding ones. Tales of having nothing to live for on Darkness on the Edge of Town, stories of murderers and thieves on Nebraska—that's the Bruce who speaks to me. He and his band have always been able to bring this intensity to the stage when they wanted to, but Friday was a different kind of show.
Maybe it was because it was supposed to rain but didn't, or because the crowd was radiating such an incredible amount of positive energy, but the set relied more on pop songs, radio hits, and gospel-inspired joy than any Springsteen show I've seen. Missing were most of the heavy epics that I'd hoped to hear (no "The River," no "Racing in the Street," no "Backstreets"), but I'm by no mans complaining: it would take a real jerk to bitch about a Springsteen concert.
The set did include one track off 1982's Nebraska, a full-band version of "Atlantic City" with a somewhat unlikely special guest: Evanston native Eddie Vedder. Bruce and Eddie traded verses on this dark masterpiece, and what might've turned out awkward and overblown was instead beautiful and haunting. That performance—a definite highlight of the show—is today's 12 O'Clock Track.