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Best Concert of the Past 12 Months St. Louis 2008 - Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Readers' Choice: Radiohead

Despite a late beginning — more than an hour past the scheduled start time — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band performed a show for the ages at the Scottrade Center this past summer. For three-plus hours, the Jersey homeboys performed 29 songs spanning the Boss' entire catalog, including a generous bunch of covers (like Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" and a gender-swapped version of the Crystals' "Then She Kissed Me," that song's first airing since 1975). The 59-year-old's voice sounded terrific — gravelly in the all the right places, soulful when it needed to be and bulldog-tough if necessary. His boundless energy was a sight to behold, his iconic Springsteenisms — scrunched-up guitar face, guitar windmills, back-to-back playing with Little Steven — only part of his animated persona. The Boss repeatedly ran across the front of the stage on a brief extended platform; it served to bring the crowd closer to the band, and he played the part of politician by clasping hands, waving at audience members and even jumping into the throng a few times. It seems almost too hyperbolic to call Springsteen and the E Street Band an American treasure, but after seeing them live it's hard not to anoint them as one. The topics addressed in Springsteen's songs are often serious, but the stories about America and its people are a celebration — of nostalgia, of simplicity, of being alive. More important, these stories are wrought with emotion and passion that's wholly sincere — and incredibly inspiring — and the musicians' sheer endurance is a testament to the joy they take in performing.

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