Springsteen Contemplates Mortality While His Songs Ignite Celebration at London Gig

by Michael Nguyen
Bruce Springsteen Hyde Park Concert

Eleven years after concert promoters prematurely ended his show at Hyde Park, Bruce Springsteen was determined not to let history repeat itself. He openly declared his disdain for any curfew that threatened to shut down his packed performance on Thursday evening, attended by a loyal crowd of 65,000.

Springsteen, at the age of 73 and still full of energy, ensured he started earlier this time, delivering an unbroken three-hour set on Thursday with extraordinary momentum. He took a few pauses to muse over the passage of time and the loss of friends.

A militant assault on a southeastern Iranian police station leads to the death of an officer, with ongoing conflicts
A far-right candidate wins an election in a German county for the first time since the Nazi era, triggering widespread concern
TV meteorologists face growing harassment as part of wider anti-science and anti-media trends
Climate change increases the burden on farmworkers, who are on the frontlines of a warming planet

The 28-track performance included timeless anthems such as “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Prove it all Night,” and “Born to Run,” interspersed with newer compositions and a cover song. Though the overarching theme was mortality, the atmosphere of the concert was more a celebration of life, with the audience enthusiastically joining in on a glorious summer evening.

“Is anyone out there feeling alive tonight, London?” he boldly asked before launching into “Mary’s Place.” This was one of several songs that highlighted the E Street Band’s sharp horn section, competitive keyboards, and stellar backup singers, supported by tens of thousands of enthusiastic fans. “If you’re alive, then so am I. That’s why we’re here,” he declared.

This tour, Springsteen’s first in seven years, began in Tampa in February and has predominantly stuck to the same setlist each night, an unexpected strategy for an artist known for performing fans’ hand-written requests.

At just past 7 p.m., Springsteen joined the E Street Band on stage to deafening cheers of “Bruuuuuce,” which might sound like jeering to the unacquainted. Dressed in a black buttoned shirt, the sleeves rolled up to reveal his still-muscular arms, dark jeans rolled up at the ankle, and oxblood Doc Martens boots, his short silver hair slicked back.

After greeting London, he promptly counted out for the drum intro to “No Surrender,” sending the crowd into a frenzy and the band into a hard-rocking rhythm. This opening track about camaraderie and the influence of music encapsulated the evening’s theme.

The poignant line about learning “more from a three-minute record … than we ever learned in school” and the song’s transition from “Young faces grow sad and old” to “I’m ready to grow young again” before culminating in a resounding chorus of “no retreat … no surrender,” was moving.

This was followed by “Ghosts,” a powerful tribute to his late bandmates, ending with the lyrics “I’m alive and I’m out here on my own/I’m alive and I’m comin’ home.”

However, Springsteen wasn’t alone on stage. He was backed by the 17 members of the E Street Band, including long-time members like guitarists Little Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, and keyboardist Roy Bittan.

Saxophonist Jake Clemons, nephew of Springsteen’s dear friend and former sax player, Clarence Clemons, who passed away in 2011, had his arm around Springsteen as they sang an extensive series of “la-la-la’s” at the end of the song. Throughout the night, Clemons took center stage, playing his sax that sparkled under the setting sun.

Despite a few cancellations on the tour due to undisclosed health issues, Springsteen remains an impressive performer. He moved somewhat stiffly across the stage, descended the steps to interact with the front-row audience, taking selfies, and sharing high-fives.

During an upbeat performance of “Out in the Street,” where he sings “I walk the way I want to walk,” he stumbled while climbing stairs back to the stage, reminding of an awkward fall during a show in Amsterdam in May. He sat on the stairs to finish the song, with Clemons joining him.

He conducted the E Street Band like a conductor of a symphony, gesturing with his hands, indicating downbeats, and counting time. He joked about rehearsing these movements in front of a mirror.

Following a lengthy jazzy jam on “Kitty’s Back,” which saw Springsteen initiating the track with a feedback-filled wail from his Fender electric guitar, the band transitioned smoothly into “Night Shift,” a tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson by the Commodores. This song, featured on his latest record of soul covers “Only the Strong Survive,” showcased the stunning backing vocals by Curtis King, whose ability to hit high notes made Springsteen smile.

Midway through the show, the band took a break, and Springsteen, alone with his acoustic guitar, shared his journey of joining his first band, The Castiles, in 1965, which he called the “greatest adventure of my young life.” He also shared the poignant moment of being at the deathbed of the band’s founder, George Theiss, realizing he’d soon be the only surviving member of that group.

Springsteen shared his thoughts on mortality, saying, “Death is like you’re standing on the railroad tracks with an oncoming train bearing down upon you… It brings a certain clarity of thought and of purpose and of meaning… Death’s final and lasting gift to all of us is an expanded vision of this life. Of how important it is to seize the day whenever you can.”

He followed this profound reflection with a performance of “Last Man Standing,” a song from his latest original album, “Letter to You” (2020), inspired by Theiss’ death.

The band then returned to deliver a series of Springsteen classics, including “Because the Night,” “Badlands,” “Thunder Road,” “Glory Days,” and “Dancing in the Dark.” Despite the audience’s full-throated singing, they couldn’t overshadow Springsteen’s commanding voice or the amplification of the sound system.

A video montage of Clarence Clemons and former organ player Danny Federici played during a performance of “Tenth Avenue Freezeout,” paying tribute to these larger-than-life figures of the band who passed away in 2011 and 2008, respectively.

For the encore, Springsteen returned to the stage alone, guitar and harmonica in hand, joking that he was just getting started. He then performed “I’ll see you in my Dreams,” a song inspired by the death of another friend, reflecting on mortality with the line, “For death is not the end… ‘cause I’ll see you in my dreams.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bruce Springsteen Hyde Park Concert

What was the theme of Bruce Springsteen’s Hyde Park concert?

The theme of the concert was a blend of celebrating life and reflecting on mortality. Springsteen performed songs that touched on these themes, leading the audience on a journey through time and experience.

When was Bruce Springsteen’s last performance in Hyde Park before this concert?

Before this concert, Bruce Springsteen’s last performance in Hyde Park was 11 years ago. During that concert, promoters had cut him off due to time constraints.

How many songs did Bruce Springsteen perform at the Hyde Park concert?

Bruce Springsteen performed a 28-song set at the Hyde Park concert. This included classics like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Born to Run,” as well as newer tunes.

Who is part of the E Street Band that performed with Bruce Springsteen?

The E Street Band consists of various talented musicians, some of whom have been with the band for a long time. The lineup at this concert included guitarists Little Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren, drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Garry Tallent, keyboardist Roy Bittan, and saxophonist Jake Clemons.

Were there any mishaps during the concert?

Yes, during the performance of “Out in the Street,” Springsteen stumbled while climbing stairs back to the stage. Despite this, he finished the song sitting on the stairs with saxophonist Jake Clemons next to him.

What did Bruce Springsteen do for the encore at the Hyde Park concert?

For the encore, Springsteen returned to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar and harmonica. He performed “I’ll see you in my Dreams,” a song inspired by the death of a friend, reflecting on the theme of mortality.

More about Bruce Springsteen Hyde Park Concert

You may also like


HydeParkRegular July 8, 2023 - 8:44 am

was there, epic show! Bruce was awesome! his energy is contagious, and the E Street Band was on fire. definitely a night to remember!

SteveTheBossFan July 9, 2023 - 1:19 am

Whoa, Bruce still rockin’ it at 73!! His shows never disappoint. Glad he didn’t get cut off this time haha. Wish I could’ve been there!

RocknRoll4Life July 9, 2023 - 3:12 am

Bruce is a living legend, never fails to impress… The themes of life and mortality really hit home, wish I was there to witness this unforgettable show!

EStreetLover July 9, 2023 - 3:31 am

That’s our Bruce, defying time and rocking out like a legend. Heartwarming to see him reflect on the good ol’ times and mates lost. E Street Band forever!

BornToRun87 July 9, 2023 - 5:51 am

Damn, wish i was there!! 28-song set sounds incredible! No one does it like the Boss.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News