A few minutes before 8 p.m. Tuesday night, rock and roll fans cheered as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band took the stage at the United Center. By the time they left the stage three hours later, the cheers still had not stopped.
On his second stop on The River Tour and first show in Chicago since 2012, Springsteen brought the magic that made so many fans fall in love with him. After kicking off the show with outtake “Meet Me in the City,” Bruce jumped into his 1980 album “The River,” which he played in full in honor of the box set released celebrating the 35-year anniversary of the double album. Before songs he gave some backstory on what he was thinking when writing the album, focusing on his personal life and how “we have finite time to do something good.”
Many of the songs concentrate on darker and somber subject material. “Independence Day” is the story of a solemn late night talk between father and son, the title track focuses on a life drastically changed by a teenage pregnancy, and “Wreck on the Highway” describes just that. Even the poppy, upbeat songs have dark undertones to them; “Hungry Heart” is the story of a man abandoning his family (which Bruce sung while surfing through the crowd).
After running through all 20 songs on the album and receiving a standing ovation, Springsteen and the band kept the show rolling with favorites like “No Surrender” (which took three tries before the band remembered how to start it), “She’s the One” (a fan request), and “Thunder Road.”
Just like the Pittsburgh show last week where the band covered David Bowie, this show also honored another late rock star. Cell phones lit up the arena as Bruce gave a beautiful sing-along rendition of “Take It Easy” by The Eagles, in honor of guitarist Glenn Frey, who passed away Monday.
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As the house lights went up, Springsteen and the E Street Band blasted into “Born to Run.” “Dancing in the Dark” featured Bruce pulling out a woman out of the crowd a-la Courtney Cox to dance with. The show ended in typical Bruce Springsteen fashion: a cover of “Shout” by The Isley Brothers to close it out.
Right before the last notes were played, Bruce exclaimed, “I’m just a prisoner…of rock and roll.” That night, so was every person in the crowd.