Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band // Live Review // Boucher Road Playing Fields // Belfast

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band // Live Review // Boucher Road Playing Fields // Belfast

Sir Bruce Of The Family Springsteen, returns to Belfast this evening in a blaze of glory! After playing three shows just last year at The 3Arena in Dublin, Bruce wisely has travelled North of the border to kick off his first of four shows on the Isle to keep his army of Northern Irish fans appeased with a sold-out show at Boucher Playing Fields, Boucher Road in Belfast.

Bruce is no stranger to the Island of Ireland and to his extended family of Aiken Promotions who have worked tirelessly over the years to bring back Bruce and Co. time and time again, from his earliest days playing the mighty Slane Castle way back in June 1985, where somehow Aiken PR convinced Bruce to play his first-ever outdoor show and he kindly obliged, this would be one of Irelands most memorable and magical shows and would forever cement this special relationship between Bruce and his dedicated Irish (North + South) fanbase. Speaking with the team of Aiken PR at the press day in early May, they spoke proudly of the relationship they have managed to maintain with Bruce’s team, of his affinity with the Irish crowds and the Island itself with his daughter being a big fan horse riding here regularly, of course wee Bono and Co. no doubt make him feel at home when he’s across the pond also, to be sure to be sure!

Tonight, however, Bruce will not only be playing to a 40,000 + strong crowd at Boucher Road, but he has generously imported some gorgeous weather with him (Praise the baby Jesus!) as Belfast is wrapped in glorious sunshine and Mediterranean temperatures for the first time, in a long time! For this alone, the man needs a sainthood! But some may only be here for the music, controversial I know, craic will be had indeed, but Bruce does have a tasty back catalogue to bring to the party. Now me, myself and I, became aware of Bruce Springsteen back in the mid-80s after the release of Born In The USA, I was living in Dublin at the time just a wee pup at the time but that song was inescapable! Now I would be lying if I were to say I am a Bruce Springsteen superfan, I am not but I am a great admirer of what he has achieved across his career and his ability to maintain such a presence in the industry in an ever-changing and challenging landscape such as the modern music scene. This is no mistake, he has earned his right to be where he is, through graft, passion and sheer talent, surrounding himself with the best in the business to allow his star to shine! Tonight (Matthew) I will be popping my Bruce Springsteen cherry at the ripe old age of 50, and as a passionate music aficionado who attends many, many, many, many gigs across any given year, I am genuinely looking forward to absorbing Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band in the flesh.

With only the 21 Studio Albums to choose from Bruce may struggle to find material for this evening’s show, or more a case of choice paralysis! But as an artist of his quality, nothing will be left to chance and like a well-oiled machine, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band will delight their Belfast audience with a well-curated set. Speaking of, is there a more famous backline than The E Street Band? I am looking forward to taking in how a band of this quality work together, make the music come to life, and brings their larger than life personas to the stage. As a bedroom warrior (guitar player)have a real appreciation for what these folks can do on the live stage, like breathing to you and me they deliver the most majestic performances that steal our hearts and leave us breathless. The real beauty is watching a band of this scale intricately manoeuvre the set, leaving space for one another to shine when required, Belfast won’t know what has hit it!

Let’s do this!

So a short delay of around 30 minutes and one by one Bruce’s ensemble hits the stage! The Boss himself last out is looking a million dollars,  in black jeans, DM’s and a waistcoat and white shirt and tie, looking as sharp as it gets. All of the band looks the part like they have all walked off a Hollywood movie set, you just know this is going to be an experience. Opening with No Surrender Bruce calls SVZ out to join him on the hot mic for the chorus but you can barely hear them as everyone around me is in full voice! Bruce does seem to love a Tele but they’re loaded with Hot Pickups, cutting through the mix as his backline creates the biggest sound you could ever imagine, vocal harmonies, three guitars, bass, drums, keys, backing vocalists and a brass section! The wall of noise they create is gigantic, everywhere I look people are singing and dancing, every song packed with a huge anthemic chorus, bigger and better than the last, right there right then it clicked! I get it, why this crowd love him so much. This is as real as it gets, genuine musicianship, genuine lyrics, harking back to days gone by when you could grasp life in your hands before technology snatched it away from us. This eclectic crowd are a snapshot of what gigs used to be life, families out together living their best lives to the soundtrack to the one musician who binds them together, the glue that family stories are built around.

Bruce takes the time during each song as the set eases in, to walk the length and breadth of the stage down below greeting fans, handing out picks and for one special little lady a harmonica, the fans are beside themselves getting up close and personal to The Boss, but for Bruce, this is what it’s all about, what keeps him going, the air he breathes as he orchestrated the Belfast crowd and his band simultaneously to great effect.

With Hungry Heart he had the Belfast crowd singing the opening lines in fine voice whilst the Hammond organ blasted its infamous lines through the PA, one lucky lady getting the opportunity for a dance with The Boss himself! Ashley each and every song is played, the spiritual experience being felt across the grounds of Boucher Road is palpable, a majestic musical performance from all on stage just blows the mind, watching them do what they do so eloquently it’s a sight to see. We get treated to every nuance that has graced the E Street playbook, glorious vocals, huge brass work from Sax, Trumpet and Horn’s and eventually Bruce treats us to a solo acoustic number in Last Man Standing as he tells of the days as a young musician in his first band with friends.

Here Comes The Night is the first time we see Nils Lundgren spreading his wings with a blistering guitar solo, as the light starts to fade in the summer sky and the stage is ablaze with lights the show steps into another gear! Next up is Little Stevie who rips it up on a beautiful black strat with a purple paisley pickguard, just one of many beautiful instruments played throughout one seriously lengthy set.

As the night reaches it’s crescendo and The Boss & Co. toss out some of their big hitters, the Belfast audience has to realise that this is all going to end pretty soon, a glorious day’s weather welcomed Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to our city for the first time in eleven odd years, a welcome return, a gathering of old friends and families alike sharing in one of the greatest gifts we have to distract us from the chaos that is 2024. One show down, three more to go and as the thousands of happy fans stream out onto the Belfast streets I have no doubt quite a few will be appearing in Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin.

For this little lady, cherry popped, I certainly will remember this evening, Belfast turned out in their droves to welcome back one of Ireland’s favoured international musicians, it has been a lengthy wait, but well worth it.


Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band 2024 World Tour:

May 9 – Belfast, Northern Ireland @ Boucher Road 

May 12 – Kilkenny, Ireland @ Nowlan Park 

May 16 – Cork, Ireland @ Páirc Uí Chaoimh

May 19 – Dublin, Ireland @ Croke Park 


Tickets for Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band in Belfast, Kilkenny, Cork and Dublin go to

For more concert information see


Review: Mark. McGrogan

@flashartmark #flashartmark @rocknloadmag