Live In Concert – Bruce Springsteen, RDS, 2008


Seven years ago, my life changed. Not some personal epiphany or near death experience; I got a new soundtrack. I actually can’t remember what specific song or moment it was that turned me onto Springsteen, I’m thinking it was “The River”, but what I do remember is that not since Tom Waits had I known so instantaneously that an artist’s music fit so perfectly in with my styles, though I don’t think even then I could have foreseen the fanatic I would become.

That was the summer of 2006, not a great one for me. Maybe you cling to music a little more when times are tough but I don’t think it influences you entirely. This music was made for me. I had just dropped out of college, by the end of that summer I had decided to return. This man gives hope, gives power, gives belief.

I can’t help but laugh at how green I was back in 2007 as I queued – queued – outside the local music shop for tickets to the “one night” he was scheduled to play in the RDS. One night, pffft! As it turned out he played three, and we were lucky enough to get sorted for the second night. We were completely oblivious to the die hard who queued overnight for pit access and such too, so I laugh even harder when I think of how all four of us walked into the pit merely an hour before the show kicked off.

Now that I’m at nine Springsteen gigs and counting I’m nearly embarrassed at how little I knew of the live shows back at this first gig. Most of my experience on CD had been compilations like Greatest Hits and Live 75 – 85. And of course stories of how legendary his Slane gig had been. I certainly didn’t appreciate the show any less though I can tell you. Of the three nights, this Friday night show seemed to be the most generic in many ways, a lot of tracks from Magic which was the album of the tour at the time and looking at the sets for the other nights I was gutted to say the least that the others got “Rosalita”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and “The River” amongst others. Yup, I was still a greatest hits kinda fan alright.

Because rather than going into detail about the gig and the setlist – which was still great all the same and ticked any and every box – we got “Jungleland”. How little we knew. Of the three nights, this Jersey City opus was performed only once. Over the entire tour, it would usually only get a look in once over three or four nights in a given country. And little did we know back then how little time left with the Big Man, Clarence Clemons we had. It was nothing but a privilege, appreciated only more with time. Since that gig, in the eight gigs I have been to since I have heard this epic composition on at least four of those occasions to my memory, but none have come close to this one.

Familiar as I was with the song ahead of the gig, it was there and then I was hearing about the Magic Rat’s tragic fall from some measure of grace, the poets, the hungry and the hunted all in real time there on stage. I don’t know how it never grabbed me on the CD, it just came to life in the RDS. In case it isn’t obvious, the gig overall was stellar and little would I believe it had you told me back then but they would only get better. I went to U2 in Croke Park a few weeks after this and having previously held then as the measure of a live act, I left feeling hollow (this gig only being the biggest in a myriad of reasons). The bug was caught, and it just won’t quit.

Next week’s Live In Concert – U2, Croke Park, 2005 (Night 1)

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Bachelors Degree in Arts from NUI Maynooth. Double Honours English & Philosophy.

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