Classic Rock Corner

Hiding on the Backstreets, Part 3: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's Last (and Final?) Four Houston Shows

[Ed. Note: This is the final installment of our series reminiscing on Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band's long history in Houston. See here for the '70s, and here for the '80s and '90s.]

April 18, 2000: E Street Band Reunion Tour, Compaq Center (the Summit)

"It was on this tour that Bruce spoke nightly about the 'majesty, mystery, and ministry' of rock and roll as a powerful force. And even though I had nosebleed seats, it was as close to a religious experience as I've had at a concert, which I attended with my two best friends, including one who flew in from Georgia. Afterwards, I was so riled up with life and energy that I woke up my wife to have relations. Proof that a Springsteen show is like instant Viagra!"

- Bob Ruggiero

November 4, 2002: The Rising tour, Compaq Center

"I had lost my father suddenly and unexpectedly earlier in the year, so 2002 was a rough one. I couldn't hear the song 'You're Missing' without thinking of him. Mace needled me with taunts of 'You're gonna cry!' for hours before the show. I didn't disappoint him. This was also the show after which Clarence was rushed to a hospital for emergency eye surgery, which he wrote about in his recent autobiography, Big Man."

- B.R.

April 14, 2008, Magic tour, Toyota Center

"The show was great, but I was extremely fortunate to get to meet Little Steven and Bruce just before the show. While interviewing Steven for this article, I mentioned that my friend Mace's autistic teenage son actually learned to verbalize to Springsteen songs. 'Well, then, you gotta meet the man himself!' Steven bellowed. He couldn't have been nicer and set us up with amazing seats. He guided us through the bowels of the Toyota Center, and opened the door to Bruce's dressing room creaked open.

"We could see him in glasses and a black tank top writing out the night's set list. He came out, greeted us, listened to my friend's story and met his son, and took a quick pic. Just a few minutes, but what a memory. Oddly, Joe Ely was standing right next to us the whole time! Bruce also played the record's hidden track, "Terry's Song," for the first (and I think only) time to mark what would have been his longtime friend Terry Magovern's 68th birthday."

- B.R.

April 8, 2009: Working on a Dream tour, Toyota Center

"Judging by 150 minutes of evidence at Toyota Center Wednesday night, the Boss has decided to turn the E Street Band into a traveling medicine show that, if it can't put money in fans' pockets - though, overall, his ticket prices at least took less out - can certainly remind them that, as he sang in vein-popping opener 'Badlands,' 'It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive.'"

- Chris Gray, from our Rocks Off review

"For this show - just a year later! - we got 'Seeds' ('Man, now I live on the streets of Houston town') and an almost superhuman level of energy from Bruce as well as Nils Lofgren, who despite just having hip replacement surgery jumped, twirled and stomped all night. However, it was obvious that Clarence's health problems were affecting him, as he looked weak for most of the show, though revitalized for his solos on 'It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City' (tour premiere) and 'Rosalita.'"

- B.R.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero