So this week was the week I’d been looking forward to for a very long time. Way before I booked my ticket on a whim back in February (if I had to go on my own, I would’ve).
I feel like there’s not much to say about Bruce Springsteen that not already been said. He is a giant in the world of music; he’s not called The Boss for nothing. And I have loved his music for a long time. His live shows are legendary for his showmanship, the musical prowess displayed by the band and the immense back catalogue of songs to choose from. But it was time I experienced it all for myself.
Friday morning, I was ridiculously nervous. My previous night’s sleep had been as interrupted as a child’s slumber on Christmas Eve. Thankfully, my lovely aunty and uncle (big up to Andy and Dave) had allowed me to tag along with their gang, so I didn’t have to go on my own. It was lovely to travel as part of a team up on the motorway. We kept the Starburst flowing, picked our way around the travel hotspots and shared a mostly Bruce-based conversation.
As we arrived at the stadium, my stomach was doing flip-flops and I had a goofy smile plastered over my face. My aunty and uncle’s friend took me under their wing and we headed into the stadium to find a spot. This was not too difficult despite the large crowd – not unsurprisingly, the demographic of Bruce Springsteen fans seems to be pleasingly un-dickhead like. We found a good spot and settled in ready for the appearance of Bruce and The E Street Band.
I could go for hours talking about the hours he played for, but I’ll settle for my top three moments.
- First song – “For You” – I didn’t know this song (I know, not a true fan, blah blah blah, but he has A LOT of songs). He walked out on stage in that image we’re all familiar with. I was literally just staring at him, in almost disbelief that I was finally watching him perform. He sat down at the piano and played this song. I, along with most of the 38,000 crowd, couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I could literally listen to this man sing any song and be captivated. Magic.
- Working on the Highway – I told the others I was with this story, so apologies to them for the repetition, but it’s true. In my youth, when I took over ownership of the house turntable (I lugged it upstairs to attach to my stereo in my room) my record collection was limited. I had the Grease soundtrack, The Sound of Music soundtrack, a Motown medley album and some Barry Manilow LPs from my mum (still proud of those – love Manilow). One Sunday we went to the carboot sale, as we often did and I saw the “Born in the USA” record. I recognised the cover so I bought it. When I got home, I listened to it over and over again – especially “Working on the Highway”. There was something about the speed of the lyrics and the blue-collar theme that I loved, and I still love. And to see it live and do my well-honed line-dance style shimmy to it was amazing. I was very happy.
- Dancing in the Dark – I bloody love this song so much. I always loved it, but it took on a new meaning for me in recent years. I sang every god-damn word to to this and I danced my heart out. As did everyone else around me. Bruce has that power. It was incredible.
- Alright, I know I said top three, but I’ve changed my mind – I can’t contain it to three. Four is Thunder Road. Thunder Road is one of the best songs ever. I know that, you know that- everyone knows that. On Friday night, he ended the three and a half hour set with it. A stripped back, acoustic version. Just Bruce, a harmonica and his talking guitar. It was beautiful. Just as those first heart-breaking strains of harmonica tore through the newly dark sky, the big screen camera cut to a tall, balding, bearded man in his fifties in the pit. This man silently wiped away a single tear from his eye. We all feel that man, we all feel it.
What a song, what a night, what a man.