One of the most excellent show openers is Badlands, the leadoff track on Bruce Springsteen’s fourth studio album Darkness on the Edge of Town (ranked as the second best Bruce Springsteen song ever by the Rolling Stone magazine).

The song is characterised by Max Weinberg’s dynamic drumming of the famous beat, a one-two-three-four-five-six-(double time) one-two-three pattern underneath the verses. The chorus, where Bruce (and the audience) are singing/shouting “Bad-lands!” (fans pumping their fists in the air twice, once for each syllable of the word), “… you gotta live it every day. Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay. We’ll keep pushin till it’s understood, and these Badlands start treating us good”, has a way to get the crowd worked up.

Cue an amazing sax solo and multiple false endings followed by the audience singing the long, wordless “oooh oooh”s part, and you have a perfect rock song to start off (or close) an epic show with and I haven’t even got to the lyrics yet.

The protagonist in the lyrics is tired of the same old- same old. He isn’t content living a life where no one seem to have experienced the fulfilment of pursuing a personal dream. He knows, in his heart, that there is something bigger out there and the dream/the hope won’t be realised if he just waits for it to happen. It’s frustrating for him to feel that the surroundings are holding him back and to see that people around him are settling for mundane lives and he feels an aversion towards them because of that. He needs to strive for something more. He is not going to settle in and become like them.

talk about a dream; try to make it real.

Periodically Badlands is a rather accurate description of my world, where I feel pretty infuriated and aggravated with both myself and my surroundings. I always find comfort in the lyrics that urge me, not only to talk about my dream, but also to take action to make it real and that I shouldn’t let anything or anyone stop me.

It aint no sin to be glad you’re alive

Pursuing a dream (and/or living your life) is not always going to be easy, but if you hang tough and keep on a path that fulfills you, you will be rewarded. To quote another Bruce Springsteen song: “hold tight to your anger and don’t fall to your fears”. (read more about my “Bruce Commandments” here)

A show starter, according to me, ought to be an uptempo song with the ability to grab the audience by their throat and shake them and wake them as to let them know that the show has started and to make sure that, to make this an epic show, the crowd has to be there and contribute.

Other outstanding show starters: My Love Will Not Let You Down, Out in the Street, Meet Me in the City, Born In the USA and Mary’s Place.

Photo credit: ? (feel free to enlighten me)

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