So. I have just returned from Springsteen. It was pretty good.
I wish I could call it great, or transformative, or soul-shaking. It wasn’t for me, although it absolutely was for most of the crowd.
He’s a legend. He really does give his all on stage; it just wasn’t my set. I’ve said this before, and it doesn’t entirely make sense even to me: I’ve never thought of myself as a Springsteen girl, and yet he wrote my all-time favorite song, and has a few others that I think hold up as among the finest in rock-and-roll. When I listen to him in the car, I always go Thunder Road-Night-Born To Run-Jungleland. And I skip everything in between. I’m just not a fan of saxophone rock. There’s a lot of Springsteen that just doesn’t resonate with me, although I can appreciate the greatness behind it, and that was tonight’s arena rock.
Tonight’s show was 45 minutes late in starting, which problematic with those of us who pre-paid for Charlottesville parking. The crowd filtered in (I think the arena holds 16,000) and I realized I couldn’t remember the last arena show I saw (maybe Loretta Lynn? worth it.) Anything bigger than Cat’s Cradle feels pretty commercial, so I’d really only go “arena” for a legend. Bruce came out and I was giddy; but then, I didn’t know the first song, or the second. “Hungry Heart” was third, but he let the crowd sing it, as in JUST the crowd, no Bruce. I cut him some slack on that, since he spent the song crowd-surfing. Please please, let me also be crowd-surfing at 63.
Crowd-surfing Bruce doesn’t even resemble the alone-on-stage-with-a-guitar Bruce I saw earlier today, the poetic and articulate one. They’re both great, but I know which Bruce I’d rather have a beer with. Bruce alone on stage is magic. Bruce with fifteen, yes fifteen people backing him is Arena Rock. Why two drum sets? Why five guys with guitars? Why five guys on brass?
After song #3, it was a solid 2 hours before he played another song I knew, and that was one I can’t even name because I always skip it. That’s my fault, not Bruce’s. I haven’t kept up. Born to Run is one of the greatest albums of all time, and I really just wanted that, start to finish, which is unreasonable. Everything he did was fine, and the crowd was thrilled, and some of it I liked, but I can’t say I loved any of it. Then it was over.
He came out for an encore, as I was dangerously close to potential towing. I decided it was worth staying for Jungleand (thank you Boss) and Born to Run. And then I had to run save my car.
Notably, incomprehensibly, unbelievably missing from tonight’s set list: Thunder Road, the song for which I had purchased this ticket. I could not fathom that Bruce would do a show for 16,000 people and NOT do Thunder Road. I checked the set list later to be sure I hadn’t missed it running for the car. I didn’t miss it. He closed with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out. I always skip that one, too.
I’m not sorry about any of it. If I hadn’t taken the whole day off, if I hadn’t gotten here early, if I hadn’t set off on foot for a stroll, if I hadn’t met the nice man with the cane who told me about the free show this afternoon, if I hadn’t already heard Bruce do Thunder Road today, I’d be crying bitter and angry tears of injustice right now. As it was, I heard the Bruce I really needed to hear by accident (or Divine Intervention) before the Arena Rock experience. Just Bruce, and an acoustic guitar, and a harmonica, and sheer poetry.
And Thunder Road.
Universe loves me. A lot.