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Review: Springsteen promises quick return at Pittsburgh show

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

Goodbyes aren't as hard when you know you won't be apart for long.

So Bruce Springsteen made it easy on fans at his concert April 22 at Consol Energy Center, Uptown, by announcing that he'll be back soon.

Springsteen will play shows with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers at 7:30 May 22 and 23 at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland. Also appearing will be Milly featuring Seth and Johnny from the Composure. Tickets, at $85 to $125, went on sale at 10 a.m. April 23 on Ticketmaster. Details: www.ticketmaster.com

Springsteen was the special guest of good pal Grushecky at Soldiers & Sailors concerts in 2010 and 2011. The announcement of the May dates came in the final hour of Tuesday's show, after the Pittsburgh rocker joined Springsteen and the E Street Band to play “Light of Day.” Grushecky's son, Johnny, joined them for “Frankie Fell in Love,” with Johnny playing a mean acoustic guitar next to Tom Morello, the former Rage Against the Machine guitarist who has joined Springsteen on this “High Hopes” tour. Morello helps fill the gap left by Steven Van Zandt, who had other commitments.

The “High Hopes” tour, for now, winds up just before the Soldiers & Sailors concerts. The next stop is April 24 in Raleigh. Werner Haupt, 46, of Cologne, Germany, will be there. He and a friend traveled to the United States to attend four of the tour's shows. Pittsburgh's stop, which ran a touch over three hours, was his 77th Springsteen concert.

He likes that Springsteen concerts are lengthy, he says. “The longest show I saw was four hours.”

But more than that, he says, the draw is the “pure rock ‘n' roll. It's handmade music, great stories. The stories behind the songs, they're real stories, sometimes real people.”

Although this was Haupt's first visit to Pittsburgh, he has traveled to the States before to see concerts — about 25 of them.

“It's interesting to come to the States to see these places he's talking about,” Haupt says of Springsteen.

Unlike some past concerts, Springsteen actually talked very little at the April 22 gig, except when introducing “The Wall,” when he talked about friends who had died and a visit to the Vietnam War memorial in Washington. The emphasis at this concert was on the music, and there was a lot of it, with interesting choices. He opened with “Clampdown,” a Clash song, before surging into his fist-pumping “Badlands.”

After “Johnny 99” and “Stand on It,” the rocker and his wife, singer-musician Patti Scialfa, charmingly flirted their way through “Seven Nights to Rock.”

Morello was featured on “High Hopes,” when he picked the guitar with his teeth, and in a reimagined “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

For the fans holding up request signs, Springsteen thrilled with “I Wanna Be With You,” a song he said he hadn't done in a while, and reduced women to tears with “Back in Your Arms.”

Later, while the band took a break, he took a solo turn at the piano and stunned the audience with a reverential rendition of “The Promise,” another little-played song. One audience member exclaimed, “I'll never hear that played again in my lifetime.”

Maybe not. Springsteen mentioned at the concert's close — “Dream Baby Dream” — that come July, he will have been playing guitar for 50 years. But at 64, that crowd-surfing, hip-thrusting fellow sliding across the stage on his knees is still full of surprises.

Catherine Artman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at cartman@tribweb.com or 412-320-7881.

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