Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Concert of a Lifetime

At a little after 4:30 on Saturday, November 17, as we (my sister--Lisa, my husband--Todd, my daughter--Tana, and I) stood in line with our bracelets that identified us as numbers 68, 69, 70, and 71 with about a thousand people who were participating in the general admission lottery system, they finally drew the number of the person who would be first to go into the barricaded area in front of the stage. They were going to allow 500 people in that area. When they drew 54, a shout went up in our section and we looked at each other with shocked faces.  There were hugs, high fives, and multiple congratulations to and from strangers...along with some tears.

At that point, we entered the building--the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th people to enter. As we very, very slowly made it around the building (this long line of sequentially numbered people) we listened to the band do it's sound checks. Pretty soon, that included the sweet sound of Mr. Springsteen himself.

But by the time we finally entered the seating area, the stage was clear. We were walked down to the barricade area in an empty stadium. And we walked right up to the railing at the stage.

With lots of time to kill, we struck up a conversation with the couple beside us--Mike and Stephanie.  They had flown in from New Jersey for the concert and were not part of the lottery system. They had connections. I'm not exactly sure what Stephanie's health issues are, but I would guess cerebral palsy. Before the lights were turned down, a security guard came down and handed them their backstage passes. From my conversations with her, it was apparent that she was part of the family.

We waited and visited and took pictures and waited some more.  Finally at 8:30, the lights went out and the band began to take the stage.  Of course, even with the lights down we could see everything going on.  And when the stage lights came on, Bruce was at the front microphone.

They started with the song, "Kansas City". The set list also included 2) Prove It All Night 3) Candy's Room 4) She's the One 5) Hungry Heart 6) We Take Care of Our Own 7) Wrecking Ball 8) Death to My Hometown 9) My City in Ruins 10) The E Street Shuffle 11) Fire 12) Incident on 57th Street 13) Because the Night 14) Cover Me 15) Downbound Train 16) I'm on Fire 17) Shackled and Drawn 18) Waitin' on a Sunny Day 19) Raise Your Hand 20) The Rising 21) Badlands 22) Land of Hopes and Dreams 23) Light of Day 24) My Beautiful Reward 25) Born to Run 26) Dancing in the Dark 27) Santa Claus is Coming to Town 28) Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.

During that very first song, he made a point to catch Stephanie's eye, smile, and mouth something to her.  After his first harmonica solo, he walked up to her and got down on his knees in front of us to hand her his harmonica. Yes, I put my hand on his thigh at this point...I simply couldn't help myself. Throughout the concert he would point and smile at her, mouth something to her, or walk over beside her. It was very sweet and I found his concern and care for this young lady to be endearing.

With Bruce standing 10-15 feet in front of me for 90% of the concert, I completely forgot that there were thousands of people behind me. (I turned around and snapped this photo before the concert began.) It felt like a private show.

Honestly, my mind was almost numb. It was surreal. I don't even feel like I can recall it very well but my mind keeps replaying pieces of it over and over again. It's a strange thing. I hope that in time it is all processed and I remember it more sequentially. In fact, I took several days to post this because it has been so hard for me to wrap my mind around the whole event.

Completely unconcerned about being a pretty boy, he often blew his nose right onto the stage (Todd calls this a "farmer's blow"). I heard Tana exclaim, "Gross!" more than once.  Between songs he would go dip his face in cold water.  He was sweaty, soaked, snotty, and didn't seem to care a bit. It was all about his music and pleasing his fans.

For part of one song, I don't even know which one right now, he held my hand as he walked by me.  You should know that Todd was quick to point out, "I think that was his snot hand."

When "Dancing in the Dark" was played, he is famous for allowing women on the stage to dance with him. He pointed out a girl and her mother behind us. In fact, they got on the stage in front of me--I was pushing them up as he was pulling them on stage. Yes, we completed a task together. Ha!

I was disappointed with the setlist at the time. There were some songs that I so badly wanted to see and hear. However, as I look at the list now, I realize that it was an amazing concert. With the repertoire of songs that this band has recorded and performed, there is no way that they can possibly play everyone's favorites. In fact, we met a guy from Madrid in line that has been to ten different shows on this tour and assured us that every show is a new experience.

You would never guess that this man is 63 years old.  He crowd surfed during "Born to Run" from the middle of the floor back to the stage, he jumped up and down from the piano, and he squatted down and leaned back clear to the floor and then picked himself back a young man. Of course, his face and body have aged.  However, several times throughout the evening I caught glimpses of a young Bruce when he would lose himself in a song or be simply caught up in the joy of his music. Those moments brought tears to my eyes. Yes, you can tell that he loves his music and his fans. How else could he keep up the rigorous tour of 2012 with it's record length shows and world travel?

Will I go again one day? I hope so. Although I realize that the experience I had a few days ago will never be repeated, I also realize that I would enjoy the perspective of distance where I would see the whole show and not just be focused on Bruce. (There were other band members on stage?)

And besides that, maybe I'd get to hear a little Johnny 99, Seeds, or Darlington County.  (Sigh...)