Live Review: Bruce Springsteen At BST Hyde Park, London, July 8th 2023

What an immense way to mark the penultimate day of BST Hyde Park on Saturday with headliner Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band offering a staggering display for the audiences after an already highly impressive set earlier in the week. Bruce even at the age of 73 really knows how to put on a show and through much of the set didn’t need words and let the music do the talking. Eager fans were kept on their toes as the set was switched around, this time kicking off with My Love Will Not Let You Down. Then came hit after hit of some of his best-loved tracks from Born to Run, Dancing in The Dark, Badlands and Mary’s Place.

Before getting on to Springsteen we should just take a brief look at all the bands who performed that day. There were many great acts to see throughout the day with huge The Chicks fan Brittney Spencer opening the Great Oak Stage and Kezia Bell playing the Rainbow Stage, both playing originals and covers. Other acts included the Missouri singer Sam Barber and Country Kerry sensation, Pa Sheehy, who reached the Irish Top 10 in 2021 with his debut EP, The Art of Disappearing.

Notably James Bay also made an appearance playing some of his big hits such as Hold Back the River and sharing some brand-new exclusives. Second on the bill just before the Boss, came American country-rock band, The Chicks formerly known as the Dixie Chicks who also returned for their second performance at this year’s festival. Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer played new and old songs which really enthused the crowd before the main event.

Bruce and the 18-strong E Street Band including long-time guitarist Steven Van Zandt and saxophone player Jake Clemons – nephew of original member Clarence Clemons do deliver an unforgettable performance. The weather tried to ruin the occasion as the rain began to pour but in fact, it actually added to the performance as it came perfectly timed for Mary’s Place. The song makes a profound impact as the rain began to fall with the crowd singing the words “Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!” and shafts of lights seem to almost settle over the band.

Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park. Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

The most emotional part of the night was Last Man Standing. With the rest of the band off-stage barre Barry Danelian on Trumpet, Bruce reflected on where it all began. He tells a beautiful story of joining his sister boyfriends band when he was just 15 and shares how his band, The Castilles lasted three years, which he joked is a very long time for teenagers. The track reflects on the memory of his Castilles band member George Theiss who died in 2018 leaving Springsteen the last man standing from his old band. He talked of being by his bedside in his final days and of memories of his wedding before he was even 19, it was clear to see how much every word meant.

Every song that was played had its own power and presence with those usual live E Street Band flourishes. The crowd could not get enough even with lesser-known tracks, though of course, the hit songs were the ones to make the crowd go even wilder, that was a given! Born To Run had that brilliant energy and Dancing In The Dark was an incredibly powerful performance as the crowd grew ever louder.

The intensity built to a crescendo as the audience sang along to a rendition of the Beatles‘ hit Twist and Shout. Then everything went quiet as the night came to a close and the band takes the applause and the Boss remains alone with his acoustic guitar performing I’ll See You In My Dreams.

Seeing Springsteen live really felt like a bucket list moment, especially for anyone who listened to the New Jersey rocker growing up. This will live long in the memory with his age seeming almost irrelevant as he still has so much energy and power in his voice.

Now over and done for another year, American Express presents BST Hyde Park 2023 held host to the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Billy Joel and many more. For more information about BST Hyde Park and to keep an eye on announcements for next year visit the official website.

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