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Thursday, 18 November 2010

Bruce Springsteen - Glasgow

The bus journey was pretty much uneventful.
We got the bus instead of the train as there had been a fatality on the line and Christ knew when the next one would have been.
More money, a longer journey and a more uncomfortable one.
We arrived in Glasgow mid afternoon and had a look in Fopp where we got a few bargains and then KelC got here tragus pierced in Forevermore Tattoos. Basically we were just wandering about a bit killing time before heading out to Hampden.
Throughout the afternoon the rain was sporadically making an appearance and it done little more than provide a drab backdrop to the day.
There was no carnival atmosphere like there was on the day of AC/DC. No hordes of Springsteen fans. No strains of Bruce coming from the shops at all.
It could have been any Tuesday afternoon in Glasgow.
You could have been forgiven in thinking that you had arrived on the wrong day for the gig.
After exhausting the options of ‘things we wanted to do’ we jumped on the train to Mount Florida and the sense of anticlimax began to really kick in.
Prior to AC/DC the train was packed to bursting point with fans in an exuberant mood and ready to party. This one was full of commuters heading home from work with probably nothing much more on their mind than settling down for a night in front of the television ahead of them.
Outside Hampden we met up with friends who had been in line since early morning to get access to the ‘golden circle.’
They felt the day had passed quite fast, but that might have had more to do with the alcohol they’d consumed and the camaraderie of the hardcore Springsteen fans that they were ensconced with.
We only spoke to them for a little while before the gates opened to let the anointed Springsteen acolytes in. ( I think they got to see the sound check, but forgot to ask later). Then we then went and bought a couple of t-shirts and joined the swelling lines of the great unwashed, of which we were but two of, that didn’t have the magic marker number daubed on them that gave access to the stadium early.
We stood, and we stood and we stood and we stood.
Then the rain came on, then the rain went of, then it came on again, then it slowed to a trickle, then it did an impression of a monsoon and finally the gates opened.
Inside we noticed that the golden circle was huge so KelC and myself headed straight for it. I felt a bit sorry for the people who had queued up since last night for access to this area while the vast majority of us just streamed in and jostled them out of the way.
They must have been royally pissed off.
Then we stood and stood and stood and stood until it felt like my feet were chewing on my ankles.
Finally, after the roadies did their thing for what seemed like an eternity, Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band walked on stage with an accordion and started playing ‘O Flower of Scotland’ and at the moment everything changed.
All the hours of waiting in a downpour suddenly became worthwhile. The rest of the E Street Band and Bruce Springsteen were welcomed on stage by the world famous Hampden roar that’s usually reserved for international football matches.
For a couple of seconds it was deafening.
One minute there was zero atmosphere and then it was a if someone had run a charge of electricity through the whole stadium.
Bruce Springsteen knows how to play a crowd and that’s apparent from the moment he appears.
It’s classic Bruce. He passionate, he’s funny, he’s personal and he throws his guitar about like a hammer.
He’s on the lip of the stage more times than you can count. Virtually in the crowd every five minutes.
He collects banners and uses them to introduce songs. He gives his harmonicas away after each song and the lucky members of the audience who are chosen to receive one look as if they will pass out on the large screens on each side of the stage.
At one point the has a little girl of about six sing along with him and without doubt you can see that this will live with her forever. Christ she has just sang with an icon of rock in front of tens of thousands of people.
This is how Bruce connects with people. He blurs the lines. It’s not an audience watching a show. It an event where the people are encouraged to participate. The crowd put as much energy into this as the band do. It’s not them and us. Just us.
I’ve tailed off from his more recent material over the last few years and the unfamiliarity of some of it allowed me to disengage to an extent and take in the crowd instead.
All around me people are transfixed. It’s rare to see such adulation and the crowd ranged from kids to pensioners. It would appear that Springsteen is everything for everyone.
I don’t think that there was much passing trade at this show. The vast majority must have been hardcore Bruce fans and could sing along to every word of every song. Even the new tune ’Outlaw Pete’ that was played at Glastonbury for the first time had everyone singing along.
The E Street Band are accomplished musicians and you can tell that wherever Bruce leads they can effortlessly follow. No change of pace throws them off course. It’s a very fluid performance.
Some of the songs from Born in the USA sound like they have been turbocharged. Cover Me is a guitar driven blast of noise that only has a passing resemblance to its studio cousin. While Working on the Highway sounds like a party in full swing. Even Dancing in the Dark, that I’ve always thought was a bit cheesy, took on a whole new life.
The highlights for me where the older tracks though.
Born to Run, The River and Thunder Road are three that I would pick out as being that bit extra special.
The last quarter of the show flew by.
It was as if the band were going for it as hard as they could. They knew there was an 11pm curfew and they were determined to squeeze in as much as the could. There wasn’t a moment to pause for breath.
When they ripped into Twist and Shout there was no doubt that they had managed to impress everyone in the stadium at one point or another. They really do cover all the bases.
Although these events are getting rather pricey I don’t think that anyone could honestly say that they were short changed by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen Springsteen play a number of times now (Birmingham with Seeger Sessions band, 02 in London for Magic, Cardiff Stadium and Hampden) and this show was pretty good. It didn't reach the heights of Cardiff (which had a better setlist - opening with From Small Things and also playing Blinded By the Light with a story about Danny), but to hear Incident live was a dream!

    You captured the atmosphere well in your review. I was one of the faithful queing to get to the front, alas I didn't get a wrist band though :(