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There’s no other way to put it: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were feelin’ it Thursday.
It what’s likely to be remembered as the Milan Marathon, the veteran group — which features a half-dozen sexagenarians and a 58-year-old — kept many in the crowd at San Siro Stadium up past their bedtimes with a three-hour, 40-minute gig for the ages. Springsteen’s publicists said it was the second-longest in the band’s 40-year history, behind only the legendary and widely bootlegged New Year’s Eve 1980 show at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
The band hit the stage to strains of Italian Ennio Morricone’s theme from Once Upon a Time in the West and wrapped 33 songs later with a cover of The Isley Brothers classic “Twist and Shout.” By contrast, they played a mere 25 songs over a paltry two hours and 40 minutes at their Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena show in April.
The bulked-up band, stretched to 16 pieces for the current Wrecking Ball tour, played a truly career-spanning set Thursday, though the 1990s went unrepresented. Twenty of the songs came from Springsteen’s first seven albums covering the years 1972-84 — that’s including “The Promise,” which was recorded circa 1978 during the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions but not released until decades later — along with three from 2002’s The Rising and eight from this year’s Wrecking Ball.
Six tracks from 1984’s worldwide smash Born in the U.S.A. were deployed, compared with only one (“Dancing in the Dark”) at the L.A. show two months ago. The only other album Springsteen touched on Thursday was 2007’s Magic, whose lead single, “Radio Nowhere,” was played late in the main set. “Twist and Shout” was the night’s lone cover.
The Milan show harkened to more than a quarter-century ago, when Springsteen and the band played way past the three-hour mark nearly every night. They are on their first tour without longtime saxman Clarence Clemons, who died nearly a year ago at 69. They are set to play 22 more European shows through July before returning to North America, where multiple-date stadium gigs are booked for Boston, Philadelphia and East Rutherford, N.J. More U.S. dates are expected to be announced.
Here’s the set list from Thursday’s ultramarathon at San Siro, which holds 80,000-plus for AC Milan and Inter Milan soccer:
We Take Care Of Our Own
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
The E Street Shuffle
Jack of All Trades
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Out in the Street
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
We Are Alive
Land of Hope and Dreams
Born in the U.S.A.
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Twist and Shout
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