State College

Review: Springsteen plays ‘coming of age’ record with youthful energy

Bruce Springsteen performs at the Bryce Jordan Center on April 18.
Bruce Springsteen performs at the Bryce Jordan Center on April 18.

As far as nicknames go, it’s tough to top “The Boss,” but “Marathon Man” should at least be put on standby.

On Monday evening, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band took the stage at the Bryce Jordan Center, the latest stop on “The River Tour” — and the band wouldn’t leave it until nearly three and a half hours later.

Not that anybody was complaining.

The packed arena was filled with men and women sporting aging tour T-shirts, the ghosts of Springsteen concerts past and potent — visual reminders of just how far back the celebrated musician’s career now stretches.

“Are you ready to be entertained? Are you ready to be transformed?” Springsteen asked the crowd.

There was probably a “yes” buried somewhere in the deafening roar that followed.

Are you ready to be entertained? Are you ready to be transformed?

Bruce Springsteen

Originally released in 1980, “The River” was Springsteen’s fifth album and eventually reached the number one spot on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.

“The River was my coming of age record,” Springsteen said.

In between numbers like “Out in the Street” and “Crush on You,” Springsteen paused briefly to provide his faithful following at the BJC with some insight into his creative process.

The musician said that his goal with “The River” had been to put together an album that was as big as life without sacrificing the energy of a live show.

Springsteen spoke specifically about his song “Independence Day,” which he said was in part about coming to understand his mother and father as fully realized people, with hopes and dreams of their own.

“It’s the kind of song you write when you’re young and first shocked by your parents’ humanity,” Springsteen said.

If this is all starting to sound far too academic for a Springsteen show, rest assured — the pauses remained few and far between.

The River was my coming of age record.

Bruce Springsteen

“The Boss” mingled with the audience, crowd surfed during a rendition of “Hungry Heart” and at one point pulled a young woman up on stage to dance.

Once the band wound its way through “The River,” Springsteen turned to old favorites. The crowd went wild for “Born in the USA,” “Dancing in the Dark” and “Rosalita.”

“Wow, what an audience, you guys are phenomenal,” Springsteen said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready