MANCHESTER, TN—The rolling countryside of rural Tennessee is a long way from New Jersey both metaphorically and as the crow flies, but that didn’t stop Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from riveting the audience at this year’s Bonnaroo Arts and Music Festival. As the Saturday night headliner at the patchouli-saturated festival, The Boss and band performed tirelessly during an epic three-hour set in front of a crowd known a lot better for its love of onstage jam-band journeys, not singing along with the chorus of “Rosalita”.
Springsteen (at left) won those in attendance over with the support of guitarist Steven Van Zandt (center) and Max Weinberg (far right, who at one point handed over the keys to the drum riser to 18 year-old son Jay). The coda of the night brought the house down on a climatic note with rousing versions of “Glory Days” and “Dancing in the Dark”.
If indeed Springsteen and the E Street Band seem larger than life at this point, consider that headlining Bonnaroo is only the third biggest concert the group has played this year, trailing both the Super Bowl halftime show and President Obama’s inauguration. Springsteen’s vocals at Bonnaroo—as well as at the other just mentioned mega-events—have been managed by Shure UHF-R wireless.