Everyone I ran into over the weekend complained about the crowds at Jazz Fest — too many people, too pushy, too drunk, not enough this, too much that. But for those final moments during their encore, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band swarmed the stage for Wrecking Ball's "Rocky Ground" as it morphed into "When the Saints Go Marching In," and there was dead silence.
Throughout his more than two hour set, Springsteen spoke of ghosts and spirits, things that haunt, things that inspire, reminders of what was, and what we hope will become. He closed his 2006 set with "Saints." He said that performance — less than a year following Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods — has stuck with him and the band since. "Saints" isn't a song that immediately conjures death. You hear it at football games and in bars, you forget its traditional lyrics are about the end of the world.
Springsteen arrived at this verse, "Some say this world of trouble is the only one we need. But I'm waiting for that morning, when the new world is revealed." Moments later, the song moved back into "Rocky Ground," its chorus seemingly growing louder and brighter. A couple behind me noted that it was Sunday — they didn't go to church but said, "This is church." The band then closed with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," the origin story of late saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Springsteen's current ghost.
Below is the full 24-song setlist, and I also made a Spotify playlist.
Springsteen extended this 24 song setlist, which spanned decades, over two and a half hours. There were many worthy moments, and perhaps you had to be there for most of them. I'm not one to get misty over something at Jazz Fest, which personally makes me groan aloud several times a day, but this was something else.
"Badlands," Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978
"We Take Care of Our Own," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Wrecking Ball," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Out in the Street," The River, 1980
"Death to My Hometown," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"My City of Ruins," The Rising, 2002
"How Can A Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live," We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, 2006
"Jack of All Trades," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Something You Got" (originally by Chris Kenner; Dr. John joined the stage for this)
"O Mary Don't You Weep," We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, 2006
"Prove It All Night," Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978
"Johnny 99," Nebraska, 1982
"Waitin' on a Sunny Day," The Rising, 2002
"The Promised Land," Darkness on the Edge of Town, 1978
"The Rising," The Rising, 2002
"Lonesome Day," The Rising, 2002
"We Are Alive," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Land of Hope and Dreams," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Pay Me My Money Down," We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, 2006
"Born to Run," Born to Run, 1975
"Dancin' in the Dark," Born in the U.S.A., 1984
"Rocky Ground/When the Saints Go Marching In," Wrecking Ball, 2012
"Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," Born to Run, 1975