If there’s a load of typos and spelling mistakes in this post I’m sorry. I’m sat on my sofa the day after Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling and I am whacked. Who knew watching Bruce and the band could be so exhausting?
So Hard Rock Calling was my third Springsteen
show this year. It seems like a lot of ‘hard core’ fans decided not to go after the whole plug pulling incident last year, which is fair enough. But with Springsteen playing in my home town, there was no way I could miss it (although I got to Coventry quicker than I got to the Olympic Park in London. But enough moaning about that).
I made a special sign for the occasion but Bruce didn’t abandon the concert and take me up on it, sadly.
|Bruce didn’t dance to my tune on this one
Out of all my shows, this was the first time I’ve seen Springsteen with full on sunshine, which was a relief as I’m fed up of getting soaked in the rain, with an emergency poncho failing to keep me dry. Due to the festival format we were let into the Olympic Park at 12pm before watching several bands play before Bruce. The heat was relentless but as savvy Springsteen fans, we found several ways of coping with this. This Swede seemed to have the right idea.
|Why wear sun cream when you can just wear a jacket over your head
I was very lucky to get a prime spot in the middle of the stage, second row, my first time in the centre and right in front of the mic. I was excited to be surrounded by Bruce Buds, and it was good to meet some new Bruce fans – including a great guy from The Netherlands, his twin and his lovely girlfriend, who were thankfully not too tall.
Despite the lack of space and shade, the hours passed surprisingly quickly and soon The Black Crowes took their incense sticks (yes, really) and guitars off stage, to make way for the band they knew we were all there to see.
Striding out with waves and smiles, The E Street Band were looking particularly cool on this Summer’s evening – Stevie was rocking a funky sunglasses and scarf combo, with Sister Soozie looking glam and happy in her sunnies too.
Shackled and Drawn got the crowd going as a lively opener and we side stepped in time with the band, or at least tried to in the limited space we had. It was then straight into Badlands, which had the earlier subdued Swede going crazy on the barrier, jumping up and down with an enthusiasm I’ve never seen at a concert before. No wonder the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg almost collapsed in 1985 if all the other Swedish Springsteen fans are like that.
A brilliant Prove It All Night kept us going before the very welcome Johnny 99 as a sign request, followed by Reason To Believe. Atlantic City is always a firm favourite of mine, although if I was nit-picking (I’m about to) for some reason it always has more impact on me further into a set list. I can be so set in my ways.
Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown were next, heard at every show now, for me they still don’t get old. There’s something about that drum…
The announcement of the full Born In The USA album was met with a bit of a mixed reaction around me. The Swede with no name looked furious, and needed some serious calming due to his frustration at hearing the album (he’d heard it the night before in Paris so I semi-understand his annoyance). I was happy to hear the album though. It’s not my number one, but individually there’s a lot of songs I love on there – Cover Me is catchy, I’m Going Down is great live, and I finally got to hear I’m On Fire, I’ve been after that for years.
An added bonus was Bruce getting friendly with the crowd during Darlington County. I’ve long given up on trying to get non-blurry photos when he comes close, but you can see how happy I am to be in Springsteen Season in the youtube.com shot below
Some of the usual suspects followed, with Bruce scooping up a little girl during Waiting On A Sunny Day. Although a predictable song, it does a good job of keeping the crowd merry.
A fellow fan’s sign request was then sought out by Bruce and Jungleland started. With the sun just about set over London, for me and many others, it was the song of the night.
|Captured by the sign’s owner, @JamesRiall himself
Before I knew it we were at Born To Run, guitar touching aplenty, followed by 10th Avenue Freeze Out (@JamesRiall also got this pic of Bruce standing on the railings in front of us, a moment I won’t forget in a hurry).
With orders from The Boss, the E Street Band then shimmied down the ramp in front of us and along the barrier for the final few minutes of American Land, which got even the security team smiling.
Unusually, when we all thought we were about to hear an acoustic Thunder Road finish, Bruce granted a tattoo song request (I hope this doesn’t catch on – I’m bad with pain). He got into key and finished the night off with My Lucky Day.
With a wave he was gone, it really was that quick. But there was a promise he better keep: “we’ll be seeing ya”.
Since the show there’s been even more debate about Bruce playing these full albums as part of the set lists. Some fans have quite harshly stated that it’s Springsteen getting lazy, but I don’t think it’s fair for the band to ever be accused of that. Admittedly, they did look tired on the night, and people with more technical music knowledge than me have commented that the performance was clumsy in parts – but I don’t know what more you could expect from a band with a touring schedule and set length like theirs.
You can’t ever question Springsteen’s commitment to his fans, and what the band deliver to us night after night. Let’s be happy that they are touring in the first place, and appreciate everything we get while we can. You know we’ll miss it when it’s all over.