When I found out Bruce Springsteen would be performing in Philadelphia the week of my birthday I plunked down the money to buy two tickets to see him at Citizens Bank Park (where the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team plays). It was so worth it! (I'd probably pay at least as much to see "Hamiton," since you can't count on winning that lottery.)
NCB, a.k.a. New Cousin Barbara, is the biggest Springsteen fan I know. When she reads this and realizes how little I know of most of Springsteen's albums, she will be mortified to be related to me, even if it is the most tenuous of connections. Fortunately she loves me anyway. She educated me Springsteen's "The River" album (which the tour was based on before he and the E Street Band went to Europe). I listened to it. I was set for this concert.
Then the rug was pulled out from me. I felt like a student walking into a final exam only to learn I studied the wrong material.
Springsteen decided to honor his long-time fans by singing selections from the 1973 "Greetings from Asbury Park" album and "The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle" (also from 1973). Click HERE for what the Philadelphia Inquirer had to say about his concert in terms I could never create. NCB sent me the SET LIST. Here is a different link to the SET LIST, which mentions which songs were played because of sign requests. She texted me at the end of the concert to say how jealous she was that Bruce played his longest US concert for me (4 hours 3 minutes and 56 seconds). He just didn't want to leave the Philadelphia stage. I told her when she sees him next week on the last night of his tour, he'll break that record, and probably the world record of 4 hours 6 minutes in Helsinki in 2012).
I have a friend, Lindsey, who was in The Pit. I'm hoping she takes me up on my offer to guest blog. Don and I were seated in the far opposite extreme -- second to last row in the top tier (section 425 -- behind home plate). It was still a great spot to see him perform. Probably a better spot for me since we had stadium seats, with no one blocking our view and a lovely breeze. She was very excited to be only 100 feet away from him, and a speck in my photographs.
We were so far away, Springsteen shined the spotlight on our section and waved to us. He even pointed to someone wearing a pink top. I was wearing a pink top. I'd like to think he saw me (how cool is that, NCB!).
We were treated to two Philadelphia songs: Fever and Thundercrack, which made fans go wild. I loved the "Jungleland" tribute to the late Clarence Clemons, as played by his nephew Jake Clemons. Even I choked up. Earlier I could see why his death was such a blow to the band. I hadn't appreciated the importance of the saxophonist until I saw Jake play his solos.
My favorite was when he told his life story as a 14 year old getting started. He used a story telling format to "Growin' Up." Loved the bit about after working all summer doing odd jobs for his dad and his neighbors for 50 cents an hour (back in the 1960s) in order to save up enough money to buy an $18 acoustic guitar, he "never did an honest day's living ever since." The memoir writer in me fell in love with his style right then and there. I also loved "Jack of All Trades," both for the story he told beforehand and because that is what I have often considered myself. I also loved his playful version of "Hungry Heart." Before he played a fan in front of me said artists love Philly because "we know our music." Fans sing along and have fun, which feeds into the musicians and they, too, have fun.
A few pictures from the concert. Obviously the really close up ones are from the jumbo tron taken with my point and shoot camera. Still not bad.
I'll be lambasted for saying what I am about to say, but here it is. I though he looked tired for the first 3 1/2 hours. After hearing about his nearly 4 hour concerts I thought he would quit really early on us. His eyes were closed (probably due to too much glare from the spotlights).
Then he played "Born to Run" at 11:30 PM and the place went wild! The lightscame up. The energy was ratcheted up many degrees. He really came alive. Then I didn't want it to ever end.
Around the 3 hour 53 minute mark, during "Shout," he put on a jacket saying "The Boss" and it was announced he had exited the building, only to see him in the stairwell not ready to commit to leaving. It didn't take much to encourage him to come back out again for some encores. Here is is pointing to his wrist and saying "But it is a school night. A work night." That didn't fly with anyone. We knew we'd be spending another hour just trying to leave the parking lot and would rather spend more time listening to him play.
He finished up with "Bobby Jean" and fireworks. What a fabulous way to continue celebrating my birthday. I'm looking forward to reading his biography ("Born to Run") that comes out later this month.
For friends reading this and planning on going tomorrow night, security was a mess. The show started 30 minutes late as a result, and the professional reviewer missed the first song (which featured a string ensemble playing "New York City Serenade"). Friday's concert coincides with Adele's concert on the other side of the parking lot, so get there super early. The gate open at 6 PM. Outside food (including water bottles) will be confiscated.