Check out five must-hear live Bruce Springsteen songs


I’m a music journalist. Have been since age 17, even if I wasn’t making an actual living at it back then and still had university to attend. My work has been published and posted by dozens of outlets, from Rolling Stone to Pollstar, Time, NME, Hits, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Melody Maker, Elle Canada, Chatelaine, and more.  I’m currently the Canadian correspondent for Billboard and a contributor to many more.

Over the years, I’ve interviewed everyone from Eminem and Jimmy Page to Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Shania Twain and Britney Spears, but never “The Boss.” And likely never will. As accessible as he is onstage — he is one of the few arena acts who does not have a barrier between the stage and his fans — he rarely does interviews unless it’s with the biggies. He certainly wouldn’t do an interview with a freelancer. Oh, and that’s alright with me.

In addition to the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen was all over my bedroom wall as a kid. I have stood in line for hours for “pit” tickets to see him live. I have road-tripped many times. I have spent money I don’t have — including seeing him on Broadway three times. He is, hands-down, the best live performer in rock music, even to this day.

The man does not need to tour. He just sold his song catalogue for a reported half a billion USD, but he is currently on a world tour. The 73-year-old — and The E Street Band — give 100% for close to three hours. Used to be four. I just drove to Buffalo to see him because I can’t wait until November for the pair of Toronto shows — and he’d miss me if I wasn’t there. Now I’m suffering from withdrawal. Here’s why:

While it’s hard to pick, below are just some of my top live Bruce Springsteen songs:

Point Blank” (live video from 1978)

Probably my favourite Springsteen song, the track found on 1981’s The River is dark and intense, a story about setbacks, disappointment, betrayal, what-ifs and broken dreams. Here he is, singing it back in 1978 in Houston. Still gives me shivers.

“Jungleland” (live from 1980)

A literary masterpiece, the 9-minute epic from 1975’s Born To Run epitomizes what one has come to expect — and get — from a Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band show, which to this day is not much different. Of note, it features Clarence “Big Man” Clemons’ beautifully emotive signature sax solo (now handled by Clemon’s nephew, Jake Clemons.)

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” (live from 2023)

This is Bruce, at 73, about 10 minutes shy of a three-hour show last month in Orlando. Second last song, and here is his going strong. This is why he is widely recognized as the best live performer in rock, the benchmark as an entertainer. It might be shtick, but it works.

Spirit in the Night” (live from 1973) 

Spirit in the Night” (live from 2014, including bodysurfing)

There’s a 40-year span between these two live clips but it gives you an idea of what he gives, whether at the piano or body surfing. The song, from his 1973 debut album Greetings from Astbury Park, is a brilliant character-driven story basically about a bunch of friends on a Saturday night looking for something to do. Wild Billy suggests Greasy Lake, and off they go for some fun in the moonlight.  

“Thunder Road” (live from 1975)  

I’m a car girl and this is just about the best pedal-to-the-metal driving song ever written. But it’s really about taking chances, living life, and not accepting the hand you are dealt. It’s never too late. The lyric is a masterpiece.

Santa Claus is Coming To Town” (live from 2007)

Does anyone ever really look forward to hearing a Christmas song? Me, only this. Just check it out. Only Bruce could make “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” cool.

Also, look up live performances of:

“Born To Run”
“Promised Land”
“Prove It All Night”
“Because the Night”

Karen Bliss with Bruce Springsteen