In the harsh light of day I can barely stand, never mind walk; my brain is trying to burst out of my skull via my eye sockets; my throat feels like I’ve swallowed sandpaper; I went nine hours without a drink or a trip to the toilet; arrived about 5 hours before the first song and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
I have been to a lot of gigs, particularly for someone who has such ‘strange’ music tastes: normally defined by myself as ‘dad rock’ (Whitesnake, Rolling Stones, etc.) and aside from a couple of (what I can only describe as) knobs, it was one of the friendliest crowds I’ve experienced.
Despite a monumental cock-up where those who’d been queueing for the pit from around midday were admitted (sans wristband) at the exact same time as general admission who had been there for a decidedly shorter period (leading to moron 1 almost pushing Adam down the steep and solid steps), our race to gain pit entry was won and we staggered into position. Alas, my anxiety meant that no attempts to get to the front (or ‘touching distance’) were made, but we got a nice, central position much closer than expected and closer than the last time we’d seen him, seven years previously.
We chatted to masses of lovely Scots as the excitement levels rose towards the crescendo of Bruce and the band’s appearance. Many people admiring the sign I’d taken so much effort to make, agreeing with my song request and encouraging me to wave it (or possibly crowd surf it forwards) and wishing me luck.
(For those who don’t know, this is commonplace at Springsteen gigs as he does requests)
Having expected to be so much further back, I had made it far too large, so was apprehensive about raising it, lest I block people’s vision for too long or at too prevalent a moment in the set. Consequently, I aimed to only raise it for a few seconds at a time. Despite this, I still got an aggressive jab in the back and a passive aggressive “I think he’s got the message” from the miserable man behind me, but this was more than made up for by the amazing family that we spent much of our time in front of, but later ended up behind, who- after climbing onto her comrades back- demanded I give her my sign for her to hold aloft.
This family were an absolute joy to experience the concert alongside. Everything was met with euphoria and many tears were shed: it was incredibly touching to watch. Likewise, we spent a while speaking to an animated Scot, who was speaking a mile a minute who even Adam couldn’t keep up with/translate fully, never mind me! But whom, even long after we’d been shimmied around turned to give me a beaming smile and a big thumbs up every now and again.
There were numerous others who also added to my experience and were joys to be around.
Standing in the blazing weather, the choice to open on ‘Waiting on a Sunny Day’ was perfect (no matter what the die-hard fans/haters may say) and immediately got the crowd going, as did the build-up to ‘Spirit in the Night’, as well as the song itself.
Before the gig had begun, a somewhat disenchanted fan had said how he believed Bruce did it because he could, rather than because he wants to: this couldn’t have been further from the truth in my experience.
This is clearly still a man who LOVES what he does. His beaming face, his interaction with the crowd, the way he ruffled a younger fan’s hair and danced with the woman who’d ‘been waiting 40 years’ for him to take her in his arms. Likewise for the rest of the E-Street Band, not least drummer Max who looked utterly elated and overwhelmed each time we saw his face flash up on the big screens.
As with every Springsteen concert, despite three and a half hours of non-stop music, I left wishing he’d played this or that or the other. With such a colossal back catalogue of such amazing songs, he could easily play all day and he’d still miss ‘one of my favourites’ and you’re always going to trade one off for another.
A couple of days ago, eating lunch in the garden we we’re listening to Bruce and put on American Skin (41 Shots), whereupon Adam proclaimed how much he’d love to hear it live. I agreed, but also highlighted the fact that it was NEVER going to happen.
Cut to us sat on the pavement beside the arena and a heavily distorted soundcheck blasting. I’d long since given up trying to make anything out, but clearly Adam hadn’t (either that or he has REALLY good ears) and he excitedly turned to me, identifying the noise as being the song we’d discussed previously.
Even at this point I was skeptical, so when the opening notes were played midway through the gig, high fives were shared, before settling down to allow the sombre but beautifully powerful lyrics to wash over us…