It may not be obvious yet, but over the course of my posts here (starting today) it will materialise that I’m a Bruce Springsteen nut. No tattoos, no I haven’t heard every song, but in the six years since 2008 I have gone to nine of his gigs, and once he keeps going so too will I. Up until last year, but that’s a story for another post, 2009 was the peak year in this legacy of The Boss, encompassing three gigs two countries and a whole lot of music.
Myself and Peter, evergreen Springsteen compatriot with the exception of one gig kicked the fandom up a notch in 2009. I attended both nights in the RDS, and the two of us queued from around ten am the morning of the second for the pit. To think we thought that was crazy at the time. Of course the 09 weekend was a great serving of sonic splendor, but then we had already bought other tickets before heading along. In 09 Springsteen had announced that he would be officially closing the musical legacy of the old Giants Stadium, staple of the New Jersey Meadowlands and soon to be knocked and turned into a parking lot. And we just happened to have grabbed tickets for the final show.
It was around about this time that Springsteen kicked off his full album sets that have been a staple since, and word was out that we would be getting Born In The USA start to finish. When the only tracks you’ve been dying for but haven’t heard live yet are “I’m On Fire”, “I’m Goin Down” and “Born In The USA” you do get that serendipitous feeling that things are going your way with news like that. Myself Peter and my brother Colin spun over then in October 09, myself and Colin thankfully with family to visit too, and we made a few days out of it. My Aunt Paul who was sorting us with transport for the gig was a little perplexed at myself and Peter heading down nine hours before the gates open but hey, what can you do! It’s hard to explain insanity.
Arriving at Giants myself and Peter made friends quick, and got an introduction to the wonderful art of tailgating. I did find it funny in private how drinking a beer in line for a gig over here would draw disdain but in the States it’s ritual, but different strokes. As luck would have it we missed the first 1000 who got earliest pit access but we got our bands and we were happy out. There were rumours of who may join him on stage on the night, everyone from Bono (shudder) to Mick Jagger, but if course these all turned out to be misinformed. Why would The Boss need any help saying farewell to Giants?
Curtain up, let’s go. Opening track to this Giants run was a standard well before the album, “Wrecking Ball”. It’s a weird experience when an artist who you know the majority of the back catalogue of back to front can throw in a new fresh off the press like that, but it was fantastic. The usual followed, but this was no normal gig. There was emotion hanging in the air, and I dare say it nearly stifled the performance, or at least threatened to. But we all knew we were at something special. Then came the album set. It’s a polarising track, “Born In USA”, many die hard fans sickened at the misinterpretation of it and how fair weather fans feel cheated if they don’t hear it. But that synth coupled with Weinberg playing like his life depends on it is an experience, and in Giants Stadium it’s somehow even more. As the sun was setting over Meadowlands magic was in the air. If The Boss doesn’t do it for you, literally just picture your favourite artist in their home state/county/town playing only your favourite songs. Perfect.
After the album set came another welcome surprise, as Bruce and Patti stepped out for a seemingly impromptu rendition of “Tougher Than The Rest” which I think was a less than subtle f**k you to naysayers who were once again questioning their marriage. What followed however will stay with me forever. Alongside The Boss my biggest passion musically sits with Tom Waits, and of course the two collided on Springsteen’s cover of “Jersey Girl”. I’d hoped, quietly dreamed but never thought I’d hear it yet there it was, last track of the night for “one last dance with the Jersey Girl”. All great artists know a special gig when they play one, and that was true of Giants. We had travelled far and wide, some much further than our couple of thousand miles, and it was worth every cent. There’s been better gigs since, all for another day, but none quite so special, at least not in the same way.
Next week’s Live In Concert : Tom Waits, The Ratcellar, 2008