In March of this year I flew to Sydney with my brother to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform live at Allphones Arena. It was my second Springsteen show. The first was in Oakland in 2007 on the Magic Tour at Oakland Arena. It had been something of a disappointment, if only because I’d fallen for Springsteen’s music in 1979 when a record store owner put “Jungleland” on a pair of headphones and told me he thought it was something I might like. I was lost to it immediately, and have never stopped loving it. That night, though, was a Magic show. There were a lot of people on stage and they were all playing at once. In truth, I think the band was still working out how to play in the post-Seeger sessions mode that has dominated everything since, and just weren’t clicking. The setlist was ok. We got “Racing in the Street”, “She’s the One”, “Badlands”, and of course “Born to Run”. But no “Jungleland” – my all-time favourite Springsteen song and one of my top three or four songs of all time.
At Allphones Arena, though, the show was different. The band were tighter, Springsteen was more energetic, the sound was more focussed, and Tom Morello sitting in for Steve Van Zandt was electric. The setlist was better, too. More and more favourites: a crackling “Tom Joad”, an even better “Badlands”, a powerful “Youngstown”, and more. There were only two disappointments, as we clocked off the “Seven Nights to Rock”: one, the show was short (less than three hours!) and two, no “Jungleland”. Springsteen went on to play one of the greatest tours to hit these shores. And he played “Jungleland” several times, just not when I was there.
And then this morning the official news hit: Bruce is bringing the Wrecking Ball back to Australia, this time in February/March 2014 with both Van Zandt and Morello, and they’re coming to Perth. I’ll be there if I can lay my hands on tickets. I hope to see him in at least one other city too – maybe Melbourne. And this time, fingers crossed, after more than thirty years, maybe he’ll play “Jungleland”!