Jazz Fest 2014 Highlight: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Boss was back in town on the afternoon of Saturday, May 3, as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to the Fairgrounds for a triumphant Jazz Fest 2014 set.

Bruce Springsteen, Jazz Fest 2014, by Willow Haley, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Willow Haley

Springsteen characteristically pulled out all the stops for the seemingly endless performance. Dipping into the Seeger Sessions vault to relive what he referred to as one of the defining performances of his performing career at Jazz Fest 2006, Springsteen rolled through “Jesse James” and “O Mary Don’t You Weep.”

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello contained his eclectic guitar histrionics to one song, and even picked up an acoustic guitar with the words “Black Spartacus” written on it to strum along to a subdued but rousing version of “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Surprisingly, Morello, who replaced E Street mainstay Little Steven Van Zandt, fit in well with Springsteen and the rest of the band, even though the match seems unlikely at best.

Like the machine that he apparently is, Springsteen didn’t give himself much time to catch his breath, counting out the next song as each song’s closing chords still hung in the air, a feat that must be getting more and more difficult for the 64 year old.

Bruce Springsteen, Jazz Fest 2014, by Willow Haley, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Willow Haley

When Springsteen dropped down into his patented back-arching deep knee bend around the mic stand and held it for what seemed like minutes on end, more than a few people in the crowd began to wonder if he would be able to stand back up. Of course, then he popped to his feet, limber as a 25 year old.

Unsurprisingly, crowd interaction was at a fever pitch. Early on in the set, Springsteen jumped down into the crowd to get people in the front row to sing along.

“You’re good,” he told one singing fan. “Oh, you’re not,” he told another.

He pulled a surprised fan onto the stage to dance with him during “Dancing in the Dark,” and flung water from an oversize yellow sponge onto the crowd in the run up to “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” which was also the only break he gave himself.

And then came John Fogerty. Bounding out onto the stage, Fogerty exclaimed “I was having so much fun watching the show, I forgot I had to come out and do something,” before rolling out “Green River” and “Proud Mary.”

By the time the band launched into “Born to Run” as the set began to wind to a close, people of all ages, walks of life, and levels of Springsteen devotion were literally dancing up and down the newly created emergency lanes cut through the infield in front of the Acura stage.

More than one sunburned middle aged man in a straw hat deployed an energetic air guitar solo. Tweens were bouncing up and down next to their less energetic but highly enthused mothers. People who had planted themselves into expansive folding chairs hours earlier popped up and started to dance.

Bruce Springsteen, Jazz Fest 2014, by Willow Haley, OffBeat Magazine

Photo by: Willow Haley

Such is the magic of Bruce Springsteen at Jazz Fest.

  • Terry Scott Boykie

    Phenomenal photo of a phenomenal human.