Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Kansas City, T-Mobile Center, February 18, 2023


“There hasn’t been a tally since Sally left the alley…” – Bruce Springsteen, “Kitty’s Back” – Photo by your intrepid blogger

O.M.G. I am so happy that I got to see Bruce Springsteen and the legendary E Street Band last night at the T-Mobile center here in Kansas City. My god, the energy in that room was fantastic. There’s been a lot of talk about ticket prices, his expanded band (4 back up singers, 4 horns and a percussionist added to the already crowded stage). All of that is just talk. The truth is in the performance. And it was, in a word, amazing. Go see this man in concert.

February 5th of 1981 a much younger Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played at old Kemper Arena in the West Bottoms here in KC – I was not at that show due to a clerical error on my friend Brewster’s part – but I remember the review. I’d become a closet Springsteen fan when The River came out in 1980, about six months prior to the KC show so I was real interested to see what the reviewer said about Bruce. He said, and I’m quoting from memory which is sketchy, “I know it’s only February but we’ve just seen the concert of the year in Kansas City in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.” Not to plagiarize, but it’s February 2023 and we’ve just seen the concert of the year here in Kansas City in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

The lights dropped at 7:45 local time as each member of the E Street Band filed onto the stage. I think I saw pianist Roy Bittan walk out first. One by one the gang assembled on the stage. I was surprised how thin Little Steven looked, he was heavier when I saw him on tour in support of his solo album Soulfire. Sax player Jake Clemons, nephew of legendary Big Man Clarence Clemons, was absent due to Covid. Longtime E Street back up player Eddie Manion stepped forward to take the sax solo’s and I think Jake may need to update his resume. Bruce & the Band played last night like a younger, hungrier band setting out to conquer the world, not an established institution who already have conquered the world several times over. I can’t say enough about the setlist. They played all the big songs you’d expect but a lot of the songs while recognizable, were deeper cuts. It was a lifelong fanboy like me’s dream set. Although he’s dropped “If I Were The Priest” from the setlist, which I wish I’d seen but now I’m splitting hairs. This was one of the best Springsteen shows I’ve ever seen.

They opened with the battle cry “No Surrender” which I’d only seen previously on the Born In The U.S.A. tour performed acoustic and alone by Bruce. It was a treat to hear the full band treatment. That led into one of his later tracks “Ghost” from Letter To You, and it was awesome live. It was clear mortality was on Bruce’s mind… These were just the opening salvo’s in a 2 hour and 45 minute ass kicking, booty shaking, dancing in the aisles rock n roll assault. He hit so many highlights – the Darkness On The Edge Of Town tracks “Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night” were taught and wired with energy. “Badlands,” from that same LP, ended the main set on a real high. “Out In The Street” was the only track from the aforementioned The River album and it was a giant sing along.

After destroying the room with “Candy’s Room” the band launched into an epic version of “Kitty’s Back.” I was so joyful during that performance it’s as close as I’ll ever come to religious ecstasy. I”d never seen it played live before. Every horn, every keyboard got a solo. “Little angel starts to shuffle like she ain’t got no brains…” yeah, that sums me up. Springsteen played a lot of solo’s and he was red hot on guitar. He played the classic fender from the cover of Born To Run most of the night. After “Kitty’s Back” he did “Nightshift” from his latest soul covers album. OK I’ll admit I hit the bathroom at the bar during that track but I hurried back as I wanted to be in my seat for my first ever hearing “The E Street Shuffle.” And yes, it was brilliantly faithful to the original. Three tracks in all from The Wild, The Innocent, And The E Street Shuffle is as close as I can come to Springsteen Nirvana. I think Bruce brought this horn section with him and thought, why not dust off these great tunes that need a horn section.

At that point Springsteen hit the only sour note of the night. He played “Johnny 99” the dour Nebraska track like it was a Vegas review. When it started to my ears it almost sounded like a country song but then the horns kicked in. They’re singing about a guy who lost his job, got drunk on Tanqueray and shot a night clerk… and dancing on the ramp off the front of the stage? I was like, listen to the lyrics folks…

At that point things got back on track with a solo acoustic version of “Last Man Standing.” It was an incredibly poignant performance and was preceded by a story from Bruce about his first band. It was one of the rare moments when Bruce spoke to the audience. He was old school last night – just barreling from tune to tune with no banter – and it made for a great performance. At that point the band just continued to blow me away – the great songs just kept coming, again, I can’t say enough about this setlist – “Backstreets,” “Because The Night,” and “She’s The One.” At one point I caught myself wiping tears away from my eyes. He played a song from one of my favorite late period LPs, “The Rising.” Moving track.

The “encore” – the band never left the stage – was an hour. “Thunder Road” led into a spirited sing along – with the lights on – of “Born To Run.” “Born To Run” is a bit of a warhorse but it sounded fresh last night. Then, for my first time ever, I got to hear Springsteen play “Rosalita.” It was sublime. Such a great performance! Just when you thought it was over they launched into “Glory Days” and then “Dancing In The Dark.” One of my favorite moments of any Springsteen show was next with “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” complete with tributes to Clarence and organist Danny Federici on the TV screens. Tears in my eyes man, tears. The final performance was Springsteen once again alone and acoustic for “I’ll See You In My Dreams.” If you weren’t moved by that performance, you’ve got something wrong with you.

And just like that, as ferociously as he’d come on stage, Bruce was gone. I stood in line and bought a T shirt. I had to have a tangible souvenir of the evening. Even the Rock Chick, who had had a bad experience at a Springsteen concert back in his “Reverend of Rock N Roll” shtick days, said to me, “Wow, that was an amazing performance.” Yes, it was dear, yes it was.

As I’ve said before in these pages, buy the ticket see the show. These legends of rock n roll aren’t going to be around forever. Time is fleeting. As Bruce said last night, enjoy right now, enjoy life, enjoy every moment. I can say that last night, I enjoyed every moment I got to spend with Bruce and his legendary E Street Band. Just an amazing, old school concert. Simply wonderful. Nobody plays rock n roll like that anymore… It was worth every penny. I’m even going to buy the CD of the performance – Bruce puts out every show now – when it’s available. It was that good.



11 thoughts on “Concert Review: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Kansas City, T-Mobile Center, February 18, 2023

  1. 90 Percent of the music I love comes from the US and the remaining 10 percent from the UK. You can’t believe how spoiled you all are musically in the US. I remember a performance by Warren Zevon in 1983 at an outdoor rock festival in Belgium. He had to perform without a group in front of a crowd of 50,000 people, simply because he couldn’t afford to tour Europe with a group.
    Many of them were not or half interested, came for other groups or to drink beer and have fun. Warren did his best but with only a piano and an acoustic guitar he couldn’t play Lawyers, Guns and Money, Play it all Night Long, Charlie’s Medicie and Werewolws of Londent the way it should have been. One of my biggest disappointments and it wasn’t Warren’s fault..
    I am glad that you had such a fantastic evening with The Boss. Santé.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would have loved to see Warren Zevon. I would have actually enjoyed seeing him stripped down to just piano and acoustic guitar but I feel for the guy having to do that in front of 50,000 people. I hate it when the crowd doesn’t connect with a gem of a performance like you just described!!


  2. With no major concert halls in the area, a rock festival was an excellent opportunity to see several major top acts perform in one day. Of course I enjoyed every second of the concert, but I’d wished Warren would blow everyone away with a band playing full force. After a while I stopped with those big festivals and went more to hall performances. Much more intimate and the whole room full of like-minded people.The big festivals have gone mad these days with 56 acts on 3 days, various stages and more fringe animation than desirable. But I digress because it was about Bruce The Boss after all. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1981 *clerical error* … truth! As for ticket prices, I have wondered whether the cost of my 11th show exceeded the sum of the first 10. But yeah, he’s still The Boss, still capable of putting on GREAT shows, and there was no way we were going to miss this tour (Austin). Great to hear you and The Rock Chick caught the show in KC!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brewster, always thrilled to have you join us here at B&V! I think this was my 9th time seeing Bruce and yes, I’m pretty sure it cost more than all the others combined. I went a little overboard. I had lost faith in Bruce for a while. I love the music but he had that “Reverend of Rock n Roll” shtick he was doing when the E Street Band got back together. Then on one tour, in KC he showed up 2 hours late on a Sunday night, hungover. It was the Rock Chick’s first Springsteen show and she was disappointed. But this tour has completely restored my faith. It was an amazing show. Other than ‘The Rising’ Tour (which I thought was stunningly good) this may be my favorite show. Now we just need to figure out how/when to catch him together!!! Cheers!


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