Bruce Springsteen’s unifying BST Hyde Park performance

Bruce Springsteen’s gig at BST Hyde Park on 8 July 2023 was an unforgettable experience despite the intermittent rain. As the crowd sang and danced along with the legendary musician, it became apparent why he is called “The Boss.” Not only is he a charismatic performer, but he also demonstrates a genuine generosity towards his adoring fans. Throughout the concert, he walked into the crowds and gave away numerous branded guitar picks, a testament to his connection with the audience.

Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band perform on stage on Day 9 of American Express Presents BST Hyde Park on July 8, 2023 in London, United, Kingdom. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

The concert lasted an uninterrupted three hours, with Springsteen flawlessly transitioning between songs without wasting any time. This level of dedication and energy is unheard of in the music industry. As someone who wasn’t a big fan before attending this gig, I can confidently say that Bruce Springsteen’s music has won me over completely. His ability to connect with people of all ages, from young children to grandparents, is truly magnificent and showcases the power of music to unite humanity.

Taking the stage at the Great Oak Stage, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band delivered an extraordinary performance, spanning over 50 years of his illustrious career. Supported by a talented lineup including The Chicks, James Bay, Brittney Spencer, Pa Sheehy, Sam Barber, Kezia Gill, Kingfisher, Oscar Corney, and Kelly McGrath, the night was a remarkable showcase of musical excellence.

Despite the rainy weather, Bruce Springsteen let the music speak for itself. Opening the set with “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” he captivated the audience from the first note. Hit after hit followed, including beloved tracks like “Prove It All Night,” “Promised Land,” “Badlands,” and “Mary’s Place.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect when he played “Mary’s Place,” as the crowd joyously chanted, “Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, let it rain!”

The 18-strong band, featuring guitar virtuoso Steven Van Zandt and saxophone player Jake Clemons, nephew of the late Clarence Clemons, delivered stellar cover versions of The Commodores’ “Nightshift” and the collaborative effort with Patti Smith, “Because The Night.” The band’s cohesion and musical prowess were evident throughout the performance, enhancing the overall experience.

Approximately an hour into the show, Springsteen paused to share a heartfelt story about his friend and original bandmate from The Castiles, George Theiss, who sadly passed away in 2018. Reflecting on their early days, Springsteen recounted how George, who was dating his sister, learnt about his guitar playing. Introducing his song “Last Man Standing,” Springsteen revealed that it was George’s gift to him before he died, a poignant moment that touched the hearts of everyone in the crowd.

The concert concluded with an electrifying encore, featuring some of Springsteen’s most iconic tunes. “Born To Run,” “Bobby Jean,” “Glory Days,” “Dancing In The Dark,” and “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” brought the audience to their feet, singing and dancing along. The evening ended with a soul-stirring acoustic rendition of “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” leaving a lasting impression on all those in attendance.

Prior to Bruce Springsteen’s performance, the American country-rock band The Chicks took the stage for their second appearance at the festival. Formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer thrilled the crowd with their energetic set. Starting with “Sin Wagon” and continuing with hits like “Gaslighter,” “Julianna Calm Down,” and a powerful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide,” The Chicks’ performance left the audience energised and emotionally moved.

Earlier in the afternoon, the UK’s own James Bay graced the stage, delivering his trademark tracks and sharing exclusive new songs. The audience showed their appreciation, and Bay expressed his gratitude, promising to release new music in the near future. Ending his set with the crowd favourite “Hold Back The River,” Bay left a lasting impression with his soulful performance.

As the day unfolded, it became clear that American Express presents BST Hyde Park 2023 was yet another spectacular event. With Lana Del Rey headlining the final day, the festival continued to showcase brilliant live musicians and provided an unforgettable experience for music enthusiasts.

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