Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Croke Park, Dublin, on Sunday 19th May 2024

It’s a year to the month since Bruce Springsteen and his band came to the RDS Arena but we’re headed back northside once more for the final show of The Boss’ four-night Irish jaunt. 

It’s a glorious evening in Dublin and the streets surrounding Croke Park are a-buzz. American flags adorn pub windows, hawkers push €5 bandannas and Springsteen and sun worshippers alike spill onto the streets to filter into the stadium through the various residential streets.

He’s in fine form after last year’s US tour postponement due to peptic ulcer disease, courting band and crowd alike from the minute he appears on the sunny stage.  Each player always gets their dues with Springsteen helming the ship and tonight is no different from his back-and-forth banter with Max Weinberg behind the kit to reclining against Jake Clemens, feigning sleep while the saxophonist wails through Spirit in the Night.  His kinship with his long-serving guitarist and one-time Soprano (“Bada Bing… Little Stevie Van Zandt!”) has always been most pronounced when they play, though, and Two Hearts segueing into It Takes Two hammers home the love-in.

Bruce is all about sharing the love tonight.  He promises to send the crowd home with “Your feet hurtin’, your hands hurtin’, your sexual organs stimulated”, and all this before a heartfelt My City of Ruins; a moment of reflection to eulogise the E Street Band’s Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons, gone but never forgotten as long as this band is on the road.  He quiets the venue and in a moment of near silence, a voice from the crowd roars something at the stage to the bandleader deadpanning, “There’s always one.”

Springsteen has always been a true believer in the “joyous power of rock’n’roll” and when the sun’s out, the band is firing and he’s down at the barriers serenading the younger audience members, the celebratory mood is infectious.

Last year’s RDS show was a more reflective affair with Springsteen tempering the good-time rock’n’roll with a sobering reminder of his and our mortality.  No Surrender, with Stevie’s guitar painted the colour of the Ukrainian flag, and Last Man Standing nod to the bigger picture, but tonight is above all a celebration of music, Springsteen’s and otherwise, and two covers close the night. Twist and Shout gives way to The Pogues A Rainy Night in Soho, “For Shane, for Dublin, for Ireland”, and the E Street Band depart.

It’s hard to predict how many more times they’ll make this trip but you get the sense that as long as there’s blood in Springsteen’s veins, the band will be on the road.  As he said himself, “We’re old men, we got no place else to go.