LIVE REVIEW + PHOTOS: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Foxborough, MA (08.26.23)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to Gillette Stadium for two shows last week for the first time in almost seven years; their last appearance at the stadium came in 2016 for the The River tour. The shows came just after the band had canceled shows the previous week in Philadelphia due to illness, but Springsteen was back and ready to put on a fantastic performance for the Foxborough crowd on Saturday.
As a child of Springsteen superfans, this was my thirteenth time seeing ‘The Boss’ live, and it came just over eleven years to the day from when I saw him the very first time at this same stadium in 2012. Springsteen’s set on this tour showcases a variety of his songs from different albums released over the years, and there’s certainly something that every fan will recognize and love.
With no opening act, Springsteen took the stage right around 7:40pm and opened with a tour debut of “Lonesome Day” off of The Rising to get the night started. Although his setlist tended to stay the same each night so far this tour, fans would still be in for some surprises as he changed up the set just slightly from his last few shows. After a strong opening, Bruce and the band launched into “No Surrender,” which had been the typical set opener for the last few shows. Following this were two songs off his newer album Letter To You, released in 2020, along with “Prove It All Night.”
Next up were some classics like “The Promised Land” and “Out in the Street,” which ended with the iconic “yeah yeah yeah yeah” call and response with the audience. “Candy’s Room” off of Darkness on the Edge of Town truly highlighted Springsteen’s guitar skills during the solo in the second half of the song. Throughout the entire set, Springsteen was no stranger to the audience, coming down to interact with fans at the front of the pit multiple times throughout the night, even giving a young fan his harmonica at the end of “The Promised Land.”
The talents of the E Street Band were highlighted during “Kitty’s Back,” which featured solos from several members and sections of the band. Springsteen continued into a cover of “Nightshift” by Commodores, which he has been playing regularly on this tour. The next part of the set tended to be a toss-up each night. Lucky fans tonight got to hear “Atlantic City” (which had only been played one other time on the tour so far), a full-band rendition of “Johnny 99,” and “Mary’s Place.”
After dancing along to the high-energy “Mary’s Place,” the tone shifted as Springsteen took a moment to talk about how he started out as a musician, calling it “the greatest adventure of my young life.” He recounted auditioning for his friend’s band and how they lasted for three years at the time, and compared this to the E Street Band’s impressive fifty years together so far. He concluded the speech on a more somber note, revealing how he is the last surviving member of this first band he was a part of. Sprinsteen used this as a segue into “Last Man Standing” and “Backstreets,” at the end of which he spoke more about his earlier years.
The slower songs didn’t last for very long, however, as soon after the band launched into “Because the Night,” featuring guitarist Nils Lofgren’s spectacular spinning guitar solo towards the end of the song. The band then transitioned into “She’s the One,” “Wrecking Ball” (which brought about some opinionated “boos” from the New England crowd when Springtseen sang about how “the [New York] Giants played their games”), and “The Rising” before closing out the main set with “Badlands.”
Anyone who has been to a Springsteen concert knows that “Badlands” is an intentional closing song to the main set. Yet another equally iconic moment of a Springsteen show is the audience’s sing-along to the melody of “Badlands” during the silence between the main set and encore. The band quickly returned to the stage for a six song encore, starting off with “Thunder Road,” which was dedicated to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute employees.
After this, the bright stadium lights came on as Springsteen and the band launched into the rest of the encore, playing all the big hits like “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark.” During “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” a video tribute was played for late band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici after Springsteen sang about how “the Big Man joined the band.” With that the band exited the stage and the lights went off again, with Springsteen returning alone to play an acoustic rendition of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” before the show officially ended.
Even at 73, Springsteen is still performing with the same energy as he did when he first gained fame decades ago. Although shorter than the 4 hour and 4 minute set I saw of his at Gillette in 2016 (nearly his longest ever!), he put every ounce of energy into this over 2 and a half hour long show. You can catch him and the (heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, etc) E Street Band as they continue their tour throughout North America this summer and fall!
Photos – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on August 26th: