Reprinted from late editions of yesterday's Globe
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band finished off their two-night stand at the TD Banknorth Garden Monday by offering some deep catalog set-list swaps, entertaining a visitor in longtime buddy - and Springsteen encore mainstay - Peter Wolf, and at times barely drowning out a maddeningly chatty, sold-out crowd.
Six weeks into the tour, and Springsteen and the band are in an interesting spot. A touch of road-weariness is colliding with the appreciable fine-tuning that has come with steady touring, meaning they sound great but there's a low-grade enervation that occasionally rears its head.
While the thrust of the epic two-hour, 20-minute performance was as solid as ever - especially the increasingly blistering solos of Springsteen and Little Steven - there were fluctuations in energy.
Urgency came in surprising wrappers. The juxtaposition of the light-footed "Working on the Highway" and the theatrics of the funereal but melodic "Devil's Arcade" worked despite their stylistic differences. The bass propulsion of "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and the ebbs and flows of "4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)" also offered anchors for the eager-to-sing-along crowd.
Those last two were among the shifts from Sunday night's song list. Other substitutions included the similarly vintage "E Street Shuffle" and "Candy's Room."
It was almost as if Springsteen and the band were conserving their strength for what they knew was going to be a near-crazed encore. The spike in intensity when the band kicked into "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" was practically tactile, as the audience already took up the new song and took over for a chorus of its own.
The atmosphere only improved from that point as Wolf offered up crazy legs and theatrical support for "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" and the big, beefy blues swagger of "Kitty's Back" kept cresting as if there was no limit to its peak.
"Born to Run" was its trademark galvanizer as Springsteen threw up his hands in exhortation before lighting into the reeling Celtic rhythms of "American Land."