'Happy Birthday, Woody': Springsteen live at SXSW

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Woody Guthrie, said Bruce Springsteen in his keynote speech Thursday, was “the ghost in the machine,” an artist who never had a hit, or played an arena, or found his way onto the cover of Rolling Stone.

But the late folk legend, whose centennial is being celebrated this year, was all over SXSW yesterday, beginning in the morning with a pre-keynote performance of Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” by Colombian superstar Juanes with Eliza Gilkyson and Jimmy Lafave.

Later on, sometime past midnight, the same inspirational song closed Springsteen’s concert, as his E Street Band was joined onstage for a finale featuring Garland Jeffreys, Arcade Fire, Joe Ely, Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and a host of others.

In fact, the 17-member-strong E Street Band led off with Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got No Home,” before powering its way through new anthems like “We Take Care of Our Own" and "Jack of All Trades" (both from his latest #1 album, Wrecking Ball), brilliant tracks that, in concert, managed to hold heir own against classic anthems like “Badlands” and “Thunder Road.”

The latter portion of the concert also featured Eric Burdon joining Springsteen for a cover of “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” (although the Animals frontman was actually in better voice the previous afternoon guesting with the Raconteur’s Brendan Benson on “When I Was Young”), and Jimmy Cliff performing “The Harder They Come,” “Time Will Tell,” and “Many Rivers to Cross."

Look for video clips from the show and posts throughout the day: @billforman on Twitter.

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