Bruce Springsteen In Summary: The One With The Wrecking Ball Tour

When non Springsteen fans hear how many shows I’ve seen on the Wrecking Ball tour they say I’m crazy. I’ll admit I’ve had my moments, but is it that much of a shocker? Is my behaviour really that irrational? I don’t think so.
In the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty restrained. I meet people all the time who have given up their job for the summer, or sold their car to go on their own Springsteen tour. That’s just something for me to aspire to. If I ever buy a car, I can sell it when the next tour is announced. Us Springsteen fans, we are different ages, from different countries, a range of jobs and interests, but ultimately we are cut from the same stone-wash denim cloth. Some are more extreme than others, but one thing we all have in common is that urge to see Springsteen perform again, and again, and again…
But then the inevitable question from ‘non fans’ when the tour is over: “Which show has been your favourite?”

I’m an indecisive person, at best. There’s so many factors which contribute to a brilliant Springsteen concert, it’s not just the songs you hear, but an all round experience, from the moment you set off on your journey to the new friends you meet. For me, it’s virtually impossible to answer.

But like all difficult problems, the easiest way to tackle them is to break them down into manageable, less daunting chunks. I can’t pick a best, and definitely can’t put it into a list of 1 to 14, and I can’t score them out of ten. But I can tell you why they were special, in their own different ways.

So here it is. The One With The Wrecking Ball Tour:

It’s no secret I like my food, and deciding where to see Springsteen in concert is very much about the city’s eating potential. The two shows at Madison Square Garden, New York 2012 were squashed into a week of taking on New York one bagel and burger at a time, with a personal best of three Shake Shack burgers in one day (I know, I know). I danced it all off at the concerts with some enthusiastic Americans, seeing my first of many live performances of the Wrecking Ball album.

The One With The Incredible Set List

Heading to Rome to see the band was very much a food based decision too, combined with the passion of the hard core Italian fans I knew it would be brilliant, I just wasn’t prepared for the intensity and emotions of the night. Who knows what goes through Bruce’s head when he puts together a set list, or whether he ever sticks to the original plan, but that night Bruce left a field of thousands of fans speechless with an unexpected and shiver inducing New York Serenade, Kitty’s Back and Incident On 57th Street.  I told you I’m indecisive, so I’d have to say rivaling Rome 2013 for the set-list spot was also London’s Wembley Stadium 2013 date, with Darkness On The Edge Of Town in full (Lost In The Flood – there are no words) and also Leeds 2013, with a beautiful tour premiere of Secret Garden.

The One With The Golden Ticket

But Leeds was special for other reasons too. A small new arena, an indoor venue, a crowd full of Bruce Buds. I hadn’t planned on getting Leeds tickets, clearly I hadn’t been thinking straight. Despite my issues with technology, I logged on, clicked on the link, put two standing tickets in my shopping basket and processed my transaction. It really was that simple. Luck was on my side that day, the tickets sold out in minutes and I was one of just 600 people in a pit so small and intimate that the front row rested with their elbows on the stage. An intimate venue – hot, sweaty and elated, it was a night of insane acoustics and gave me a glimpse into how it might have felt so see the band perform back in the day before the big stadiums. 
Springsteen and rain come hand in hand, but the one that stands out is Florence 2012. After a very hot and humid day the clouds broke mid show with rain so heavy a poncho was useless. As if Bruce would ever shy away from a bit of water, out he strides to the crowd and plays on his knees in a torrential downpour. Soaked through, we danced to Twist and Shout in one of the funnest versions of the song I’ve experienced. Staying in a campsite (the life of a Springsteen fan is a life on a budget) I had all of my belongings with me, and made it back to my tent with broken camera, phone and sodden passport. Wet and cold, but with a huge smile on my face.
Sometimes it does go wrong. Rain – not fun torrential rain like Florence in 2012, but demoralising, relentless rain, combined with cold face-whipping wind and a disorderly queue of fans with steamed up glasses, broken umbrellas and damp feet. The success of the queue for the pit at a Springsteen show rides on many things, the respect and good will of fellow fans, the planning of several organised and exceptionally dedicated fans, but ultimately you have to rely on a helpful attitude from the venue staff. Manchester 2012 was the one when any sort of system went out the window and the venue’s staff saw us as a crowd of disruptive football fans as opposed to a load of excited Springsteeners. Luckily maximum effort and a strong set list from Bruce and the band (including one of the best Atlantic City’s I’ve seen) eased away the weather and queue related stress.

The One With The Opener

The One? Impossible. I watch footage from Hard Rock Calling 2012 and I can’t breathe because that Thunder Road opener is so good it makes me almost cry. Land Of Hope And Dreams at Wembley (the best of his faster paced songs to open a show, for me) and Spirit in The Night in Rome 2013 – unusual but perfect for the atmosphere that night and so surreal it still feels like a hazy dream.
A dream come true, meeting Bruce Springsteen. In many ways I wish I had said more, I play the conversation back in mind and wonder if I thanked him for his music, if I eloquently communicated how much it means to me, and every fan. I don’t think I did. Instead I rambled on about burgers, and Bruce Buds, and this blog. But Bruce does love burgers!  Simple, fuss free, thin patty, squirt of ketchup, 60s diner style. So fond is he of the burger that mid Dancing In The Dark the next night at Belfast 2013 he feels the need to exclaim “I NEED A CHEESEBURGER.” And I know how he feels.
Not the gate crashing Paul McCartney (sorry but I’m not a fan), for me the best special guest would have to be Tom Morello at Hard Rocking Calling 2012 with that performance of The Ghost Of Tom Joad. This is closely followed by the lovely Glen Hansard during the Kilkenny Weekender 2013, with an achingly beautiful Drive All Night. Seeing someone get the opportunity to perform with one of their biggest musical idols and inspirations was incredible to watch, with a stunning performance of the song which silenced the crowd.
The One With The Sunshine
I’ve become so accustomed to seeing Bruce play in torrential rain and drizzle, the sunshine at Hard Rock Calling at the Olympic Park 2013 threw me into a panic. An early start combined with lack of water and sun cream made me feel a little bit queasy. Still, I pulled myself together for a Born In The USA show. From where I was I could see it was a slightly messy performance from the band, but fun nevertheless. The next day I felt like I had a horrendous hangover, no alcohol consumed, it was a result of sheer dehydration on a sunny day. Going to a Springsteen concert has become a bit of an extreme sport.

The One With The Support Band
The band that I’ve become a little bit obsessed with. Springsteen rarely has a band play before him but this little Italian duo ‘The Cyborgs’ got the opportunity of a lifetime to play before Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at Rock in Roma 2013. I’ve since been to see them in London, and recommend them to anyone who likes a bit of blues rock (I never realised I did) and more importantly, a bit of fun. An unexpected, entertaining opener and the best way to wait for Springsteen.

The One With My Dad
…Because I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t for him. My dad, who introduced me to Springsteen’s music. We drove to Coventry, went walking in the rain, ate pies and listened to Bruce. The Born To Run album in fact, the one that got me hooked in the first place. Played live for us that evening, there couldn’t have been a more fitting album to hear together.

The 14 With The Bruce Buds

Oh Bruce Buds! A community of Springsteen loving friends who are kind and encouraging and love Springsteen’s music just as much as I do. Every show has been filled with these amazing people, how could I pick just one? Bruce Buds have been discovered at every turn over the last few years on the Wrecking Ball tour, and there’s countless more to meet further up the road.

The Wrecking Ball tour. Two years of Springsteen filled fun. Incredible music, brilliant people, and plenty more good times to come. For now, I’ll leave you with this.

Have some Wrecking Ball memories to share? Add them on to the end of this post! 
“The One With….”




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This post was written by Hannah BurgersAndBruce

  • OLI

    Again a very nice post, thanks for that!
    If I were you and If I had to pick "the one", it would be "The One With My Dad". Must have been a great time for you and your dad…
    But I'm not you and for me it's… ahhh… can't really say. GothenburgI+II, Madrid, Milan2013, Gijon.

  • The best pre show was Cork after hours baking in the hot sun in Ireland we were witness to real world
    simply joyful

  • For me, Helsinki 2012.

    When everyone else was panicking about getting tickets for the 2012 tour, I was just depressed. Stuck halfway through my final year of uni, not knowing when my final exams would be, or when my graduation would be, I couldn't make any plans. By the time I had my schedule, all the shows I could get to had sold out. I was heartbroken.

    And then Helsinki was announced. A month after graduation, and a mere 3 hour flight away. Tickets went on sale on my birthday, my mum said she'd come with me. At some ungodly hour on that cold January morning, tickets were mine!!!

    And then the show came. I knew the band would be great. I'd watched setlists from the tour avidly. But I wasn't prepared for the first pre-show acoustic set of the tour, nor was I prepared for the 4 hour finale of the 2012 EU tour! It exceeded all my expectations. While some would complain about the setlist (and have done), I got to hear 3 of my bucket list songs. The band were on form, and I don't know….it was just magical. Finally seeing my favourite band after a very stressful year, and after believing for months that I'd have to skip this tour, not to mention visiting one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen with my mum…well, let's just say that I was feeling every kind of happy emotion known to man. As one of my good friends pointed out shortly after the show, I sure as hell was glad my graduation and exams took place when they did. Had they not, I would not have had what was, hands down, one of the best experiences of my life.

    I only got to one show each year on this tour (my second was Glasgow 2013, which was special for me as well- the anniversary of Big Man's passing and I definately felt his spirit in the night), and while I can appreciate that others who had seen more would have bones to pick with my opinion, I would not have changed my WB experience for anything.

    Faith is rewarded.

  • The One where they saluted the E Street Fans – although we weren't there, this has to be our favourite of the tour obviously! We were blown away when we heard Bruce has used the words from our t-shirts for this shout out 🙂

  • Victor Kinnhammar

    I´ve seen 17 concerts on the Wrecking Ball tour. All ot them were special in their own way, but the second Gothenburg gig in 2012 was definitely the best one. It was raining more than I´ve ever experienced in the afternoon but it stopped about an hour before the show. I was there with some of my favorite people. Prior to that show he/they had played maybe 3 songs before they started playing "We take care of our own" and "Wrecking Ball". On this show I think they played 11 songs before they started with the tour´s "standards". They played Frankie, Lost in the flood, Where the bands are and Jungleland for the first time since Clarence passed away. It was a magic night.

    Other stand out moments were the pre-show in Oslo (1 show) this year were Bruce played one of my favorite songs, "All that heaven will allow" and then on the show, "Follow that dream". Two songs I wouldn´t even dare to hope for.

    The 3 shows at Metlife stadium in New Jersey last year, the second show opened with "Living on the edge of the world", but the last one which was delayed (because of rain) into Bruce´s birthday and his family relatives invaded the stage at the end of the show . His mother sang backing vocals on Twist and shout and Bruce gave plates with birthday cake to the audience in the front.

    Sao Paulo and Rio was also amazing last month, not so many rarities in the setlist but a great audience and a great, surreal feeling to be in Brazil at a Bruce show. Too good to be true. I also have to mention the last show in Kilkenny… Best moment was to hear "Man at the top" live… and "When you walk in the room"… and when he talked about the tour in the end and almost cried as he sang "This hard land". Or at least it looked that way to me.

    I thought I was done here, but then I came to think of the spanish shows last year… also amazing. The Sevilla audience was so great and the people I met in Barcelona were so nice.

    Maybe some shows were a little bit better in some ways, but all the shows were different and I´m glad I went to all the ones I went to as they all brought pieces to the big picture that was the amazing Wrecking Ball tour.

  • Rome. The others were great shows but Rome was an unworldly event. The sun, the waiting from 5:30 in the morning, the sun, the overcrowded pit…NYC Serenade. That moment, that show…collapsing at the end on the grass…the violinists…Rome was a religious experience of pure art that I've never before experienced…Rome.

  • I went to four Wrecking Ball shows in 2012 and 2013, and I know it sounds like a cop-out but they were all special in their own way – the first one was Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park, and was one of the last times I got to spend time with my dad before I went to South America for a year.

    The second one was a day after I got back from South America a year later, in Milan, with my best friend who wasn't a big Springsteen fan but wanted to see what the fuss was about. It was brilliant seeing Springsteen in Italy, still jetlagged and a bit delirious, slightly drunk and with a stadium full of crazy Italians.

    The third one was at Wembley Stadium, again with my dad, which was probably the best I've seen the E Street Band play and with a great set list.

    The last one was Hard Rock Calling, which due to the logistics (an absolute mission to get to and back), the scorching heat and the oddly ropey performance shouldn't have been a great show, but somehow still was. For the first time ever I was there with a group of people and it was just a fun day out.

    I envy you for making it to so many shows and of course for actually meeting the man, thanks for telling those stories so well!

  • The One when the Air Conditioning broke… 4th July 2012, Paris. An immense show, made even more so as the Bercy AC had to be turned off as it kept tripping the electricity. It was hotter than hell in the arena, but what a show. Only better by the following night, which is person top 3 highlight

  • The One in Sao Paulo, just because I was there among 5,000 Brazilians. I never thought Bruce would tour Brazil, and I never thought I'd be there to see it #luckyboy

  • The One where I stood stone like at Midnight, after the Wembley show. Reflecting on the kid I was back in 1985 when I stood in almost exactly the same spot #turnedoutOK

  • The one(s) where I stood, laughed, cried, drank with all the fantastic people I met along the road. The truth is that I will remember the people I was with during the tour more than I will remember the setlists. Thank you aka @greasylake

  • Anonymous

    Just 4 shows this time round, but as an unemployed(and now single)full time dad I think I can be excused. Manchester 2012 was the one that was wet and cold, but I met some great tramps that I could huddle up with. Show was good(highlights-Prove it 78,Save my love, promise) but it's the weather that sticks with me. Coventry, the one with the Born to run album played with so much intensity, looking for a gift for my 3yr old son in the soulless city centre the next morning. The one drinking in "the old arcade", don't flame me but my favourite songwriter is Jackie Leven(check him out) He passed away 18months ago, one of his songs is "Another man in the old arcade" a pub in Cardiff, so went and raised a glass(well 3) to him, listened to the song and talked to some other old men. The show was the best I saw on the tour a right royal r'n'r party with King Eric(& Steven looking terrified of the dancers in the dark but still having a grin on his face) and hot sunny weather, heaven. Leeds, the one with the burger(had to be one right)at a small bistro next to the hotel. Final show for me, great venue, great show(Thundercrack !!!) Bruce dragging himself to the mike to sing the last 2 songs exhausted but delivering fantastic performances. Best tour I think I've seen, bring on some more, he's in the form of his life.

  • Jennifer

    The one where I finally heard Johnny 99. That is also the one where I saw ESB arrive at their hotel and had my photo taken with Stevie. Dublin 1. The one where I had to travel across the world, got to touch Bruce (several times) and meet #Brucebuds for the first time in real life. Oakland. The one where the concert was the bonus, because meeting all the #Brucebuds at PoP and meeting Jake already happened before that. Wembley. The one where we all ended up in the rain singing Shout. Nijmegen. And finally the one that was my first festival ever. Werchter. All my concerts were great for different reasons. I will remember the WB tour as the tour of meeting people and making friends.

  • Anonymous

    You're gorgeous Hannah. I'd give my Bruce Springsteen in Perth concert ticket to stand with you in the pit!… Oh, wait… that won't work!

  • @sturubenstein

    It's about the people, always the people, because the music never lets us down. Of all the 2012/13 gigs, the one at the Olympic site was where I hooked up with someone I hadn't seen for years – and who I first met in the queue for Springsteen tickets in Brighton 1981. We were 17 then. I think I still am.

  • Dan

    The one where this unique duet happened, and amazingly over 130,000 people have viewed my video already:

  • Anonymous

    I saw 33 Wrecking Ball shows and the ones that stand out for me were: Fenway Park2, Wrigley Field2, Rochester (small venue 13,000), St Paul2 (outstanding setlist) and Mexico City – crowd was wild for 1st ever ESB show there!

  • Anonymous

    Best one for me, not only on the Wrecking Ball Tour, was with my daughter who I had introduced to Springsteen some years before….when he played the whole Born to Run album x

  • Anonymous

    The one (ok, make it two) in my favorite ballpark where we got fireflies in Fenway, I got Drive All Night with my daughter by my side, and summertime just never seemed better.