The Boss’ Forum

Released nearly a year after the tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001 Bruce Springsteen’s latest effort, The Rising, is dripping with emotions from that day’s events as well as his feelings trying to cope with the aftermath.

Touring with the E Street Band for the first time since he released Born in the USA in 1984, Springsteen comes to the St. Pete Times Forum at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

A customary Springsteen concert would consist of a rolling, non-stop three-hour tour de force set of rock ‘n’ roll, but his new material is much more subdued, akin to Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia.” Old Springsteen and E Street collaborations like “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run” and “Glory Days” should elicit the loudest applause and get the audience on its feet, but The Rising contains more contemplative material.

“My City of Ruins,” which Springsteen performed on the Sept. 11 telethon America: A Tribute to Heroes, has an almost spiritual tone as he cries, “Come on, rise up!” again and again.

The Sept. 11, undertones are also all over songs like the opening track, “Lonesome Day,” “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” “Paradise” and “Empty Sky.”

“Lonesome Day,” the first single off the album, provides one of the few opportunities on The Rising for Springsteen and company to shed their somber tone. The track has the same sentiment as U2’s “Stuck in A Moment,” but with a little more pace as Springsteen sings, “This storm’ll blow through by and by” and later reminds us that “It’s alright.”

While the writing on The Rising may be stellar, the album fails to harness the considerable talents of a reunited E Street Band.

Springsteen’s voice is the overriding focus of the album, while Clarence Clemons’ wailing saxophone sets are harder to find. Famous E Streeters Steven Van Zandt (The Sopranos) and Max Weinberg (Late Night with Conan O’Brien) also find their place, falling in line to ably complement Springsteen’s mellowed verses.

While his latest songs may not be rock anthems, the album has a very uplifting feeling such as on “Into the Fire”: “May your strength give us strength/May your faith give us faith/May your hope give us hope/May your love give us love.”

The title track delivers more of an up-tempo mood and is probably the best song from the album. “Mary’s Place” contains a great mixture of Roy Bittan’s keyboard, chorus and horns to raise spirits and make the listener feel like they’re in the party in the song.

Although The Rising may lack the workman-like qualities of his early albums, Springsteen never fails to put in a near exhaustive performance on stage, complete with multiple encores, and his new material should give a nice contrast to his first hits.

Contact Anthony Gaglianoat