IT’S an odd piece of synchronicity that the two colossus’s of music find themselves touring Europe at the same time.

While Taylor Swift is currently delighting the “Swifties” on mainland Europe before heading to the UK, Bruce Springsteen has been serving up his patented brand of rock with the legendary E Street band in Cardiff, Belfast, Ireland and, last night, in a rain-soaked Sunderland.

Spring-nuts know what to expect - a three hour long-plus set, fantastic musicianship from an amazing band, surprises, last minute set additions especially if the right sign catches the Boss’s eye, and, in Springsteen himself, one of the most charismatic and energetic performers the world has seen.

The region had waited 12 years for Springsteen’s return and there were many veterans from that 2012 show at the Stadium of Light who recalled that visit too was under similar, forbidding skies. They helped make up an estimated crowd of 45,000 fans from all around the world who had come to pay homage.

The Northern Echo: Bruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, May 22, 2024. Photo by Dave LawrenceBruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, May 22, 2024. Photo by Dave Lawrence

What was noticeable was the huge age range of those present, from grandparents to children attending their first show - such is Springsteen’s appeal. It’s not just a show, for many it is a pilgrimage.

As usual, there was no support band, with Springsteen and the band coming on stage a little later than expected at 7.40pm due to the weather having creating travel difficulties and delays for many attendees.

Some of his recent shows had opened with a surprise number and tonight was no different. With the Boss’s tongue firmly in his cheek, the band opened with an acoustic version of Waitin’ On A Sunny Day. Mid-song, Springsteen launched his guitar into the safe hands of his tech and wandered down to greet the audience for the first time.

He returned to the main stage, strapped on his Telecaster and turned up the volume on renditions of Lonesome Day, Prove It All Night and a blistering No Surrender on which Stevie Van Zandt played a guitar painted in the blue and yellow of Ukraine.

Across the course of the show Springsteen delivered plenty of classic songs from his long and impressive career including Badlands, Backstreets, Racing In The Street, Darlington County, The Promised Land, Hungry Heart and Atlantic City.

There was an emotional Last Man Standing which Springsteen performed with Barry Danielian on trumpet and a glorious version of The River.

The Northern Echo: Singing in the rain: Bruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, May 22, 2024. Photo by Dave LawrenceSinging in the rain: Bruce Springsteen at the Stadium of Light, May 22, 2024. Photo by Dave Lawrence

If there’s one word that sums up a Springsteen show it would have to be intensity. The ticket proudly said Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and that sums their importance up. The talent and experience on stage was immense and every member of the band gave their all from the backing singers and horn players through to veterans like guitarists Nils Lofgren and Stevie Van Zandt, bassist Gary Tallent, drummer Max Weinberg, keyboardist Roy Bittan and saxophonist Jake Clemons, the nephew of the late, much missed band member Clarence.

The signs in the audience may not have been as plentiful as usual with the rain taking its toll but the last third of the show, in particular, gave the band the chance to shine and they certainly took it with high octane versions of The Rising, Thunder Road, Born to Run, Glory Days, Dancing in the Dark and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.

During the latter number, as the band jammed, Springsteen paced the stage removing his waistcoat, tie and shirt before teasing the crowd by starting to pull off his white t-shirt before stopping. Instead, he danced around the mic stand and splashed like a five-year-old in the on-stage puddles.

Before the evening’s emotional final number I’ll See You In My Dreams - which was performed solo on acoustic guitar - he thanked the crowd for being such a great audience in testing conditions before bringing the three-hour show to a close.

At - an albeit youthful - 74 years of age, this be the last time we see Springsteen undertake a tour of this magnitude so those present had an extra incentive to soak up the experience. Two remaining UK shows are scheduled at Wembley Stadium this July and those lucky enough to have tickets are guaranteed one of the finest concert experiences of their lives.