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Bruce set to have a ball -- as a bigger band rolls into town

EVEN though the latest visit by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will feature more musicans than usual performing there'll still be a huge, unfillable gap onstage.

The passing of saxophone player Clarence Clemons meant more than just the loss of a distinctive musical voice within the band's sound -- his work being crucial to the magic of Rosalita, Born to Run, Badlands and, particularly, Jungleland -- but also a vital visual aspect of the band.

Clarence was the very manifestation of the gang ethos, that 'us against the world' spirit which all great bands engender and was best illustrated in the classic sleeve photo for Born to Run, with Bruce literally leaning on his buddy.

As if to acknowledge that there was only one Big Man, for the Wrecking Ball tour Bruce has opted to replace him with a four-man brass section (including Clarence's nephew) so we can expect an E Street Band which will sound even bigger than usual -- wa-hey!

The predominant theme of Wrecking Ball is one of defiance in tough times, of solidarity in the face of decisions taken by unaccountable bankers.

Alone among the world's first-rank rock stars, Springsteen has chosen to address these issues on several songs and there can be no doubt that they'll strike a chord with the audiences at the RDS this coming week.

Reports from the European leg of the tour have been ecstatic and from the clips I saw of the set from the Isle of Wight he hasn't lost any of his ability to make a pertinent point while still giving a crowd the night of their lives.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band play the RDS on Tuesday and Wednesday