Bruce Springsteen plays farewell gig for Barack Obama at the White House

The Boss, a regular visitor to Pennsylvania Avenue, played a 15-song acoustic set for the president and his staff

Bruce Springsteen, pretty much a regular visitor at the White House recent years, bade farewell to the Obama administration by returning to the White House last week for a 15-song farewell gig for the president and his staff.

The Springsteen fansite Backstreets, which reviews every Springsteen show, no matter how hard it might seem to get into, carries a report on the show, estimating attendance at 200 to 250.

Springsteen – who received the presidential medal of freedom last year – performed acoustically. He was joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, on two songs – Tougher Than the Rest and If I Should Fall Behind.

Backstreet’s correspondent wrote:

“It was a dream of a setlist … Bruce opened with a very brief note of thanks to the president and the staff who were being honoured before launching into Working on the Highway. That opener led into an incredible Growin’ Up for a lively start, but not much of the set was so upbeat, with haunting readings of songs like My Hometown, My Father’s House, and Devils & Dust. The mood in the room the whole night – both reception and concert – was not exactly sombre, but it wasn’t festive, either. It was elegiac, I’d say. There was a clear sense of something ending, both with the conclusion of an adventure for the staff and the silent presence of the coming political transition. Bruce’s demeanour was definitely in line with that overall vibe.”

The report noted that Springsteen introduced most of the songs: before Tougher Than the Rest, he spoke of how Barack and Michelle Obama had set an example through the eight years of the presidency; Long Walk Home “was preceded by commentary about being in a difficult moment and maintaining optimism”.

The show concluded with a few words of thanks from Springsteen, before Obama thanked both the performer and the White House staff.

The full setlist:

Working on the Highway
Growin’ Up
My Hometown
My Father’s House
The Wish
Thunder Road
The Promised Land
Born in the USA
Devils & Dust
Tougher Than the Rest (with Patti Scialfa)
If I Should Fall Behind (with Patti Scialfa)
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Long Walk Home
Dancing in the Dark
Land of Hope and Dreams


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