Born in the USA tour, Slane, June 1985
Bruce’s first ever Irish show was also his first ever outdoor European gig, with an official gate of 60,000 that reportedly swelled to 100,000. A few Slane clips feature on the 1985 live re-release of Born To Run, and the crowd goes back so far you can’t see the horizon.
Go to any Irish Springsteen gig these days and you’ll spot a few diehards in a raggedy 1985 tour T-shirt held together with home-made stitch jobs and the best hazy memories of anyone in the crowd.
The Rising tour, Dublin 2003
This gig with the reunited E Street Band was the real fuse for all subsequent Bruce gigs to sell out within minutes.
On one of the hottest days of the year, Bruce came on to an acoustic Born in the USA, then played for over three hours — joking with his wing man guitarist Steve Van Zandt that they were playing till there was absolutely no sun left. The biggest cheer came when it was well past nightfall and Steve kept pretending he could see a bit of sun in the distance. Pure rock’n’roll pantomime capers.
Devils and Dust tour, Dublin, 2005
After The Rising tour many feared it was an E Street one-off when he went solo again for the album Devils and Dust – a low-key record that favoured country and folk over widescreen exuberance.
It was Springsteen’s first solo tour since The Ghost of Tom Joad in 1996, and featured just him on guitar and occasional piano, heavy on stories and his more sombre songs like The River, Racing in the Street and I’m On Fire. Even without the fanfares of Born To Run or Badlands it still went down as an intense night, and as ‘intimate’ as it gets for a Springsteen tour.
Seeger Sessions Tour, Dublin, 2006
Casual fans were wary at the thought of a Springsteen folk tour without the E Street Band, but this Seeger Sessions tour at the old Point Depot was still a fairly raucous affair, and a rare chance to see The Boss indoors.
Bruce and his 17-piece band played gospel, blues and folk standards and radical reworkings of some classics like Atlantic City, Adam Raised a Cain, Johnny 99 and Open All Night.
The Irish fans got a souvenir with the official release of the CD and DVD package Live In Dublin With the Session Band.
Magic tour, Belfast 2007
Springsteen was at his brilliantly daft best at this Christmas gig at the Odyssey. For starters, he got everyone to cheer for a bride still in her wedding dress, then refused to come on for an encore until everyone said they’ve believed in Father Christmas. Cue legendary sax man Clarence’s ho, ho, ho as Bruce stuck on a red and white hat and led the E Street Band into Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
Wrecking Ball tour, Everywhere! 2012-2013
Bruce really went to town(s) on his most recent Irish tour — beginning with two shows at the RDS in 2012, then hitting Limerick, Cork, Belfast and two nights in Kilkenny in summer 2013.
At his Dublin gig he mocked organisers who turned off the power at his Hyde Park show in London, with Bruce and Steve wheeling on a huge power switch and wrestling with a guy dressed as a London cop when he tried to get near it.
He also played his longest sets in years — performing the albums Born To Run and Born in the USA in their entirety in Kilkenny and Limerick, and playing half of his acoustic album Nebraska in Belfast.
Bruce also shocked fans by using a support act for the first time — himself. In summer 2013 he came on for short acoustic sets to warm up the crowds before the main E Street event.
- Original on buzz.ie