Its Sunday evening. The day after the best night of my life for an entire year and I’m still completely buzzing. Frantically scrolling through clip after clip on youtube, every review posted online and every tweet twitter has to offer, I’ve realised that even the best reviews anyone has to say do not even start to compare to that evening, how epic it actually was and none have even scratched the surface of how much it meant to me. So I have decided to get this blog up and running again and tell the story myself. As a fan since the womb, a music lover (and B.A Honors specialist) I thought I have every right to share my story.
This was my sixth Springsteen gig. Every time I see him he never disappoints. Every experience unique but hands down, this was his finest hour. The best time I’ve ever seen him. Even now, just thinking of it I’m welling up with warmth and pride and feeling my skin prickle with goosebumps. I know you all think I’m completely daft. Everyone already knows I’m absolutely obsessed so I am not going to go into detail of why, and why you all suck for not letting him into your lives but let me tell you this. I’ve seen a lot of bands in my time, I’ve been to a lot of festivals, enjoyed a lot of music and I can honestly say that no one on this earth does it like Bruce. I don’t think anyone could watch last nights performance and come away unchanged. I know I am bias but I have felt so empowered, heard such powerful, atmospheric, breath-taking music. He commanded every person in that audience last night. All £71,000 of us present. You could have heard a pin drop during Racing in the Street and Thunder Road yet he had us all throwing ourselves around like spastics to Tenth Avenue, Waiting on a Sunny day and Dancing in the Dark. Every single person in that audience was dancing their socks off as if we were in some massive warehouse/stadium rave. Randoms grouped together, everyone had their arms around each other, all totally in the moment we were sharing. One we’ll never forget. The best night of our lives. The surprise and absolute awe on peoples expressions as they stood there screaming back to him with every ounce of passion they had in them. For the man they love and respect like no other. He’s more than just a rich Rock Star. He’s more than just a man. He’s a Hero. Absolute frickin hero.
So where do I start? I have had a bit a stressful month to say the least. Although before I couldn’t see that this was exactly what I needed, I hadn’t ended up looking forward to this gig as much as I usually do. I should have known the boss would never let me down like that in my time of need. I was just clouded. Numb. I honestly was at the point where I thought not even the boss was going to get me out of my black hole of calcutta. Standing there waiting for him to come on, I didn’t even feel any genuine excitement like I usually do. In fact all I was thinking was about how this day was actually really hard and I just wanted to get it over with and go back to bed….
Then he stepped onstage. My heart flew into my mouth. As he stood there grinning I just felt this wash of everything is going to be ok. Bruce is here now and he’s going to mend me. I stupidly forgot in all my clouding that quite a collection of Bruce’s music expresses the struggles of every day people, their desperation, their despair…but has such an ability in his lyrics and his song writing to give these people hope. To empower. To tell them everything is going to be ok and give them enough rise to be strong and conquer their issues.
I felt like someone was on my side last night. Right away the E Street Band launched into their first song (usually a song played towards the end of the set!) ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ … and that was it. He was singing this for me and I knew it. He knew exactly how I was feeling and he was here in all his power and glory to save me.
A new song from his most recent album ‘wrecking ball’ – I mean its brilliant. It’s epic. It’s dramatic, its powerful but with the lyrics too…let me share with you a few segments…
Grab your ticket and your suitcase
Thunder’s rolling down the tracks
You don’t know where you’re goin’
But you know you won’t be back
Darlin’ if you’re weary
Lay your head upon my chest
We’ll take what we can carry
And we’ll leave the rest
I will provide for you
And I’ll stand by your side
You’ll need a good companion for
This part of the ride
Leave behind your sorrows
Let this day be the last
Tomorrow there’ll be sunshine
And all this darkness past
Carries lost souls
Bells of freedom ringin’
Meet me in the Land of Hope and Dreams.
Yeah. Wow. Anyone who know’s me right now knows there could be nothing more perfect. And it was the opening song!! So there it was. I knew that even if it was just for the next 3 1/2 hrs, it was going to be just me and bruce and nothing else. I thought of nothing else. For this 3 1/2 hrs I can be happy, 100% confident, 100% hopeful that this was it. I am going to be great and life is going to be great he’s here and everything is going to be alright. SWOON!
So then you think – wow. Ok I’m moved. I’m ready. The cloud is lifted, I can see again. I can breathe again. I feel alive for the first time in weeks, fuck the lot of you, WHATS NEXT BRUCE…well…only bloody wrecking ball! If I wanted a bit of fire in my belly to keep this flame going, he bloody knew this was really going to do it. So BRING ON YOUR WRECKING BALL. When your best hopes and desires are scattered through the wind And hard times come, and hard times go, and hard times come, and hard times go. Yeah just to come again, bring on your wrecking ball. Come on and take your best shot, let me see what you got bring on your wrecking ball.
There’s no denying it, Bruce Springsteen’s music speaks to me in a way that no other person/artist on this planet can ever compare. But I think every person was feeling what I was feeling last night. You could feel it in the air. Tears in everyone’s eyes!
So after a few requests from crowd posters, everyone could feel that there was something different about this night. Why did he play Rosalita so soon in the set? A song he usually closes on! Finally we got our answer, and it was bloody great. He gets up to the mic and says “so we can stay here and keep doing requests..or…or we can play the entire Darkness album live for you right here right now.” well that was it. The screams from the crowd got his answer. This album too – written by a man who admits to suffering severely from depression through his life…is dark, is desolate and is full of despair. It’s by far my favourite Bruce album and by far I think my favourite album of ALL TIME. And here I was..about to listen to it. Track after track…by my hero. Oh yeah. Then he kicked into Badlands and the crowd went wild. “Badlands we gotta live it every day, let the broken hearts stand its the price you gotta pay. Keep pushing til its understood and these badlands start treating you good.” OH BRUCE. SPEAK TO ME.
The next ten songs were more than an experience. You could feel the E Street Band were as lost in it all as we all were. The whirling, screaming guitar solo’s that fill Adam Raised a Cain, Candy’s Room and Prove it all night had everyone left with their mouths dropped open. Nils spinning round on one foot playing the guitar with his teeth…Bruce wailing his complex solo’s with more accuracy and depth than even the album track provides…it was just unbelievable. Of course I know every word to every song so I shrieked through them all, much to the despair of the middle aged woman in front of me (no not my mother, she was bopping around like a small child at my side).
It all toned down for Racing in the Street. Tears filled my eyes like they always do when he sung the last verse with all the more beauty and feeling than on the album…he was living that moment again. We all were. “she sits on the porch of her daddys house but all her pretty dreams are torn. She stares off alone into the night with eyes of one who hates for just being born.” – so dark. SO good. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was silent. The music filled every corner of the room. Oh how I want to be back in that moment.
From that epic, to another. A slight pause and then it was straight into The Promised Land. A personal favourite, I was really hoping he would play. I can feel his pain like its my own in every word. “I do my best to live the right way, I get up in the morning and go to work each day. But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode. Explode and tear this whole town apart, take a knife and cut this pain from my heart. Find somebody itching for something to start.”
So the epic, dramatic part of the evening is over. He’s shown us his craftmanship. He’s musical genius…and now it was time to start the party. To drop your despair and get your bum wiggling. ‘Shackled and Drawn’ had every single person stomping about and the whole of the E street band were partying on the stage. It was a moment where we were all one. All friends. It was magical. Closely followed by ‘waiting on a sunny day’ a festival fav, where he got one very VERY cute and one very lucky little boy to come onstage and sing with him, a moment to melt the hearts of all. Then came the rising. Again he did it to lift my spirits. “Come on up for the Rising, come on up everybody tonight” he sang, and we sang back. If he wanted to raise a Boss Army to flood the White House I really think he could. We were completely under his spell. His interaction with the audience, his sheer magic and unbelievable vigor and energy he has! The man is 63! Even I couldn’t jump up and down on the piano like he does. Running up and down the stage shouting “come on Stevey! Come on Jake!!” and getting them both to dance with him. I’m going to take this moment to say how bloody great Jake Clemmons really is. The Big Man was huge hole to fill in most peoples lives. I admit I didn’t know if I could even watch the E Street Band live after he was gone but little Jakey! His big uncle would be so proud. He plays each solo as well, and with as much energy as Clarence ever did. He is the perfect fit.
It was getting towards the end of the night now, I counted three enore’s. He just kept coming back. I turned and said to my mum “do you think if he played all night, most people would stay?” and we both completely agreed we could. I think the same goes for Bruce. I think if he could have played all night, he really would have.
I’m not going to mention Dancing in the Dark. Oh its great and all but I am still too filled with jealousy that it wasn’t me who got picked to go onstage again. Lets skip right to the part where I was already thinking the night couldn’t get any better. Then he took a poster from the crowd that said those two words I love more than life itself. “Bobby Jean”.
My mum turned to me and went “No! You don’t think?” But I knew. Tonight was my night, I’d had it all and more and now it really was the pinnacle. And then I heard it. The intro to my favorite song of all time. I sobbed. I sobbed all the way through and sung every word just like I have been doing since I was three years old in the back of the car. Again, the words that I know so well, took on a whole new level and when it was time to sing the last verse I looked up at the sky and it was gone. All the pain, all the hurt….”well maybe you’ll be out there on that road somewhere. Some bus or train, driving along. Some motel room, there’ll be a radio playing and you’ll hear me sing this song. Well if you do you know I’m thinking of you and all the miles in between. And I’m just calling one last time not to change your mind. But just so say I miss you baby, good luck, goodbye.” and thats it right there. My past. My present. My future.
10th Avenue was like being at a rave. The crowd was bouncing..and then when the famous lines came in and Bruce went “now this is the important part! When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band!!” the crowd went balistic! Then I had to cry all over again when what followed were pictures of Clarence and Danny through the ages, arm in arm with Bruce onstage. The perfect acknowledgment of his fallen band mates, and just after a 10 minute spectacle of ‘Twist and Shout’ (so much better sung and played than bloody McCartney ever did, sorry What?) we thought it was over. They came and said their goodbyes and everyone went offstage. But not Bruce.
He lingered at the exit, then he picked up his acoustic and he turned back to the crowd. We knew what was coming. My mum knew what was coming, I could see her welling up (silly old moo!) and then the harmonica kicked in, and what filled our ears was the most beautiful end to a beautiful night. Thunder Road in all its striped down glory. Showing us that at the end of the day, after all the showmanship and bands and dancing…all he is, all he needs to be, is a man and a guitar, and its perfect. No one can ever compare. I saw a woman holding a banner in the crowd that simply said “thank you for making our lives better”…and another saying “I don’t want to go home”. I’m not alone in how I feel and what is the best is that I know I’m right. Bruce Springsteen has enriched my life and made it better. He’ll always be there and if he’s not your cup of tea, I don’t care. I know I am in with my fellow boss fans with the best kept secret known to man (we know he’s the best and thats all that matters).
Although my future husband is going to have to be a Bruce fan and hold me at the gigs the way the other couples were last night. Be happy when I call my child Bobby Jean and happily come with me to every gig. Bruce. You made my evening. You made my year. You made my life and I love you. I’m leaving this with Thunder Road…if there is a song that’s better written out there, I’d like to see you try. Read that and try to tell me it isn’t perfect it isn’t beautiful.
The screen door slams
Marys dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that’s me and I want you only
Don’t turn me home again
I just can’t face myself alone again
Don’t run back inside
Darling you know just what Im here for
So you’re scared and you’re thinking
That maybe we aint that young anymore
Show a little faith, there’s magic in the night
You aint a beauty, but hey you’re alright
Oh and that’s alright with me
You can hide `neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses from your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying in vain
For a savior to rise from these streets
Well now Im no hero
All the redemption I can offer, girl
Is beneath this dirty hood
With a chance to make it good somehow
Hey what else can we do now?
Except roll down the window
And let the wind blow
Back your hair
Well the nights busting open
These two lanes will take us anywhere
We got one last chance to make it real
To trade in these wings on some wheels
Climb in back
Heavens waiting on down the tracks
Oh-oh come take my hand
Riding out tonight to case the promised land
Oh-oh thunder road, oh thunder road oh thunder road
Lying out there like a killer in the sun
Hey I know it’s late we can make it if we run
Oh thunder road, sit tight take hold
Well I got this guitar
And I learned how to make it talk
And my cars out back
If you’re ready to take that long walk
From your front porch to my front seat
The doors open but the ride it aint free
And I know you’re lonely
For words that I aint spoken
But tonight well be free
All the promises will be broken
There were ghosts in the eyes
Of all the boys you sent away
They haunt this dusty beach road
In the skeleton frames of burned out chevrolets
They scream your name at night in the street
Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet
And in the lonely cool before dawn
You hear their engines roaring on
But when you get to the porch they’re gone
On the wind, so mary climb in
Its a town full of losers
And Im pulling out of here to win.