Sunday, March 02, 2014

Bruce Springsteen tackles Lorde's "Royals" to open first show in New Zealand in 11 years

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Yesterday, Bruce Springsteen, with the E Street Band, performed in New Zealand for the first time in over a decade, and he chose to open the show with a cover of one of the biggest songs ever to come out of that distant land (to us, not them), one of the biggest songs of 2013, the recent Grammy winner for Song of the Year, "Royals" by Lorde. (From what I understand, Lorde is a teenaged hobbit with a bit of an eccentric goth look who sings about things well beyond her years and the pastoral peace of the Shire.)

It was an unambiguous nod to New Zealand, of course, but also a really fine cover of a song that actually isn't that bad, that may actually be quite good, if overplayed and overhyped and overrated, as is usually the case with such global pop tunes, not to mention also simplistic and repetitive. And with its critique of our generally hyper-materialistic and narcissistic culture, and particularly as that culture is reflected in contemporary popular music, it's actually a very Springsteen-ish song thematically, and in his stripped-down acoustic version Bruce brought depth and intimacy to it, even a certain anger, of sorts, like he actually knows what it's all about, like he's actually seen it all before, because of course he does and he has, and doesn't like it at all.

Anyway, here it is, the opening song of his March 1 show at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland, a show that featured Born in the U.S.A. played in its entirety along with some of his very greatest songs, like "Atlantic City," "The River," "The Rising," and "The Ghost of Tom Joad" (along with "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road," of course), as well as Wrecking Ball highlights like the title track, "Death to My Hometown," and "Land of Hope and Dreams," instead of focusing on his most recent album, High Hopes, from which only "Tom Joad" and the title track made an appearance. Enjoy!

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