Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band played a pair of epic concerts this weekend night at Chicago’s Wrigley Field, where they were joined by two local alt-rock legends: Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder and Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello. CBS Local affiliates Marty Rosenbaum and Zack Nechvatal from Chicago’s WXRT were on the scene Friday night and gave us this report: 

“Walking down Sheffield Avenue to the front gates of Wrigley Field, it would be easy to mistake Friday night at the Friendly Confines for a rare Cubs playoff game.  The atmosphere was electric and the crowd gathered outside was buzzing with anticipation.  Once we passed through the turnstiles and made our way up to the mezzanine section behind home plate, the familiar chant of ‘Let’s Go Cubs’ was replaced with ‘Bruuuuuuuuce.’

The excitement of the crowd was combined with curiosity: this was Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s first Chicago performance without longtime saxophonist Clarence Clemons (who died last year).  Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons was called upon for the difficult task of filling his uncle’s spot as saxophonist; he was part of a new five-piece horn section.

Known for both for his lengthy shows as well as for his punctuality, Springsteen and his group uncharacteristically emerged on stage 45 minutes after the scheduled start time for the concert.  He would later reveal light heartedly that the group ‘was held up like everyone else in that darn Chicago rush hour traffic.’ Once the lights went out and the band struck the first notes of ‘Prove It All Night,’ the crowd erupted in a boisterous cheer.

Springsteen and The E Street Band came out firing and kept the energy of both the band and the crowd high throughout the night.  His new tracks ‘We Take Care Of Our Own’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ were met with loud ovations, as were classics like ‘Spirit In The Night’ and ‘Darlington County.’

Adorned in a blue Cubs hat, Rage Against the Machine guitarist and Chicago native Tom Morello joined Springsteen on stage early in the show for ‘Death To My Hometown.’  Morello would join Springsteen on stage throughout the night trading guitar licks with Bruce, Steve Van Zandt, and Nils Lofgren.  The highlight of Morello’s appearance with Springsteen was a chilling rendition of ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’ that Morello’s band Rage Against the Machine covered on their 2000 album Renegades.

Following ‘Jack Of All Trades,’ Springsteen announced to the crowd he had another local boy he wanted to bring on stage and play a song with.  Born just North of Chicago in Evanston, Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder joined Springsteen on stage to perform ‘Atlantic City.’ Vedder, sporting a blue Cubs hat as well, received a long ovation from the hometown crowd.

About three hours into the concert and at the beginning of ‘Thunder Road’ the Wrigley Field lights were turned on.  Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band could have easily called it a night, however the band played for a full 40 minutes with the stadium lights on blistering through ‘Born To Run,’ ‘Dancing In The Dark,’ ‘Jungleland,’ ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,’ and closing with Vedder and Morello on stage for ‘Twist and Shout.’

It was an electrifying performance that reaffirmed Bruce’s title as ‘The Boss.’ Even with the lights on, Springsteen and The E Street band had everyone on their feet and singing along.  ‘Twist and Shout’ felt as if it were right out of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with everyone shimmying in the aisles, even the security guards couldn’t help but dance and shake their hips.  Clocking in at a total of 28 songs and over three and a half hours of non-stop performance, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band brought a level of excitement and energy Wrigley Field seldom sees.  The only event at Wrigley I can imagine that can match the emotions of a Bruce Springsteen concert would be a Cubs World Series win.  Who knows when that will happen, for now though, Springsteen gave everyone a night they won’t forget.”

Springsteen expects his band to be able to play different songs night after night, and apparently, the same holds true for his guests.  Both Vedder and Morello showed up Saturday, but each did (mostly) different songs from the prior concert: Morello once again played “The Ghost Of Tom Joad,” but this time also played “Death To My Hometown,” “This Depression” and “Badlands” while Vedder joined the band for “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” and “My Hometown.” Both guests joined for the final song of the night, “American Land.” 

Marty Rosenbaum and Zack Nechvatal with Brian Ives, CBS Local 


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