BST Hyde Park 2023: Bruce Springsteen review, setlist and pictures supported by The Chicks and Frank Turner

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Bruce Springsteen played the first of Two BST Hyde Park shows on Thursday July 6 - he returns on Saturday July 8.

Watching Bruce Springsteen live is a joyous thing.

At BST Hyde Park, 60,000 fans have poured into central London to celebrate one of rock’s great artists and the E Street Band, who have lasted more than 50 years. It’s a hell of a thing.

He’s going to play for three hours, and then he’s going to do the same on Saturday (July 8).

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By the middle of Surrender, the fist is aloft and the whole field believes in the “wide open country” in Bruce’s eyes.

“By the end of the set we leave no one alive,” he sings in Ghosts, but really Bruce will carry us home one by one if he has to.

Prove It All Night is an early high, followed by Letter To You and a wonderful The Promised Land.

Between songs it’s like a beginners’ level Sesame Street: “One, two, three, four.” He never gets past four. But there’s never a break either.

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There’s a jazzy Kitty’s Back, which gives us our first moment’s respite, followed by a fantastic cover of The Commodores’ Nightshift - another lovely change of pace.

Bruce is in and out of the crowd, having selfies, borrowing a fan’s hat, handing out plectrums.

Down to the River is a beautiful song, which carries its traditional well in 2023 (“on account o’ the economy”).

If I sound like I’m preaching the gospel of Bruce, well, I guess I am.

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In over three hours you’re going to need the toilet (well, maybe not Bruce) and unfortunately mine coincided entirely with Thunder Road.

Back in time for Born In The USA, which is a strange thing to hear. And then it’s Born To Run. God damn. Bruce toys with the melody but even then doesn’t derail it. By the end it’s about as good as it gets.

“Tramps like us - baby, we were born to run.”

Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)
Bruce Springsteen and Jake Clemons of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Glory Days has everyone dancing while Bruce and guitarist Steve Van Zandt goof around with the on-stage camera.

And then there’s Dancing In The Dark. For my money it’s one of the greatest songs about depression ever written, but live it’s clearly not that. It’s a big celebration marked with the Courtney Cox dance.

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There’s a band workout for Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and then for an encore we get a touching solo I’ll See You In My Dreams.

And then they’re gone for two days. Believe the hype.

Bruce Springsteen at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023 on July 6. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)Bruce Springsteen at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023 on July 6. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)
Bruce Springsteen at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023 on July 6. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Bruce Springsteen setlist, BST Hyde Park

The setlist, as recorded on setlist.fm, was:

No Surrender

Ghosts

Prove It All Night

Letter to You

The Promised Land

Out in the Street

Darlington County

Working on the Highway

Kitty's Back

Nightshift (Commodores cover)

Mary's Place

My Hometown

The River

Last Man Standing (acoustic with Barry Danielian on trumpet)

Backstreets

Because the Night

She's the One

Wrecking Ball

The Rising

Badlands

Thunder Road

Born in the U.S.A.

Born to Run

Bobby Jean

Glory Days

Dancing in the Dark

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

I'll See You in My Dreams

Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images)
Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt of the E Street Band at BST Hyde Park Festival 2023. (Photo by Matthew Baker/Getty Images) | Getty Images

The Chicks

The Chicks are possibly a bit more ‘country’ than a British Bruce crowd is accustomed to.

“Are you guys ready for a hootenanny. I feel like everyone’s always ready for a hootenanny. And if you don’t know what a hootenanny is, I’ll introduce you.” If it helps, in this case it involves banjo and a fiddle, and a lot of fun.

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There are lots of feet tapping as The Chicks sing tales heavy with soldiers, as well as dark moments, such as the military rhythms of March March. From there we get the rock anthem of Not Ready To Make Nice, followed by the closing pop of Goodbye Earl.

Frank Turner on stage at BST Hyde Park. (Photo by André Langlois) Frank Turner on stage at BST Hyde Park. (Photo by André Langlois)
Frank Turner on stage at BST Hyde Park. (Photo by André Langlois) | André Langlois

Frank Turner

Turner gives the Boss himself a run for his money in the likability stakes.

Here he’s with The Sleeping Souls and happy opening up to his audience about anxieties (specifically about guitar solos) with Haven’t Been Doing So Well.

It’s perfectly pitched for the occasion, a solo Be More Kind coming over as touching rather than mawkish.

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“My plan for today is not to get drunk and show off my Bruce Springsteen tattoo backstage - because that would be a bit crass.”

He’s entirely sincere when he says that after 25 years touring this was one of the biggest honours of his career.

There’s call and response, clapping along, waving arms, a foray into the crowd - all packed into 50 minutes (three hours, Bruce?).

“I still believe.”

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