Just call Bruce Springsteen “The Boss” of South By Southwest 2012. After delivering Thursday’s hell-raising keynote address at the Austin music conference and festival, Springsteen and the E Street Band played a nearly three-hour set that included guests Tom Morello, Jimmy Cliff, the Animals’ Eric Burdon and Arcade Fire, and a Woody Guthrie tribute. Despite Springsteen referring to the gig as a “test run” for the opening night of his tour on Sunday (March 18) in Atlanta, the 3,000 fans who piled into ACL Live at the Moody Theater certainly didn’t view it that way.
Springsteen and his E Street Band plowed eight of eleven songs from the current No. 1 album in the country, his latest “Wrecking Ball,” according to reports from Billboard and Rolling Stone. Tom Morello joined in for “Death to My Hometown” and “Jack of All Trades” — “Wrecking Ball” songs he riffed on — in addition to “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” which he’s played on previously.
Jimmy Cliff offered up his guitar skills on “The Harder They Come,”"Many Rivers to Cross” and “Time Will Tell,” while the Animals’ Eric Burdon unsurprisingly popped by for a performance of his band’s “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” — the 1965 hit that Springsteen cited in his keynote speech as major inspiration. Watch below.
The show started and ended with Woody Guthrie, as Bruce opened his set by saluting the folk singer — whose 100th birthday this year has brought about fanfare — and covering his “I Ain’t Got No Home.” To end the epic gig, Springsteen brought out a whole slew of friends — Morello, Burdon, Arcade Fire, Joe Ely, Alejandro Escovedo and the Low Anthem — for a rock’n'roll campfire version of “This Land is Our Land.” Watch below.
Besides the onslaught of tunes, Bruce was letting it rip with his expletives, declaring of SXSW, “It’s f***ing crazy here. It’s like some teenage music fan’s wet dream.” Or a Springsteen fan’s wet dream.
Springsteen’s full SXSW setlist (via Billboard):
I Ain’t Got No Home (Woody Guthrie)
We Take Care of Our Own
Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
My City of Ruins
E Street Shuffle
Jack of All Trades (with Tom Morello)
Shackled & Drawn
Waiting on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello)
We Are Alive
Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
Land of Hope and Dreams
The Harder They Come (with Jimmy Cliff)
Time With Tell (with Jimmy Cliff)
Many Rivers to Cross (with Jimmy Cliff)
We Gotta Get Out of This Place (with the Animals’ Eric Burdon)
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
This Land is Your Land (with Morello, Burdon, Arcade Fire, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely, Low Anthem)