Bruce Springsteen berates bankers — in German
It's no secret that Bruce Springsteen is a left-leaning populist. "Born in the U.S.A." was a sneaky anti-war anthem; he headlined a defeat-George W. Bush concert tour in 2004, and he cut a whole album of covers by the folk and union-song legend Pete Seeger. But at a recent concert in Berlin, he unloaded on America's fat cats in a novel way — he did it in German.
His Wednesday set at Berlin's sold-out Olympic Stadium was tied to his new album, "Wrecking Ball." But his between-song banter took on the 1% as well, acknowledging that American unemployment is unacceptably high and that Eurozone nations including Germany aren't faring any better (and by some measures, even worse).
Then in German, he reportedly added "This song is for all those who are struggling" before diving into the working-person's lament "Jack of All Trades."
"Wrecking Ball" is perhaps the most politically outspoken album of his career, repeatedly attacking a system that props up megalithic financial institutions while devaluing the working person and the roots of his beloved Americana. Berlin is an apt city for him to revisit populist themes — his famous 1988 concert in East Berlin (seen by a reported 160,000 people) is sometimes cited as one contributing factor in the buildup of popular pressure to tear down the Berlin Wall in 1989.
His recent L.A. sets, by comparison, were more upbeat and revivalist affairs. But this packed Berlin show proved that the Boss' message translates in any language.
Photo: Bruce Springsteen performs in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on May 30. Credit: Britta Pedersen / EPA.