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Review: Stripped-Down Springsteen

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Bruce Springsteen proved he was more than his aWhile an acoustic show often means stripped-down versions of the hits, for Springsteen it meant a set of his slower, introspective story-songs. His ruminations on fatherhood, love and blue-collar life were picked mostly from his last three studio albums; 1995's "Ghost of Tom Joad," 2002's "The Rising" and this year's "Dust and Devils." Once he shed his black blazer, Springsteen, in dark jeans and a gray work shirt with sleeves rolled up, looked as if he could have been a character in one of those songs. The solo performance made the lyrics all the more powerful from the compact, twitching musician, whose eyes were often closed and face contorted with feeling.

With a steady tap of a boot and his harmonica pressed to an old silver microphone, his head tilted back, Springsteen channeled the blues. On piano, he reached for his high, whispered, almost-falsetto voice, perhaps one of the most convincingly honest aspects of his style. For one of the encore songs, Springsteen gently tapped out the beat on an acoustic guitar, never strumming the strings, instead using it as percussion. It was these inventive musical moments that kept the 6,000 fans in rapt attention. By the end of the show, Springsteen barely looked winded. Even after a four-song encore, he made it look easy. — Carrie Nieman

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