A night with The Boss
We thought about it for a second. Should we go to Auckland to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band?
Yes, yes we should!
It’s pretty rare we should go to such lengths. Popping up to Auckland isn’t necessarily a big deal but travel costs on top of tickets certainly add up. I last did it for Roger Waters The Wall.
Demand was huge so ticket dithering meant ‘you snooze, you lose’. GA standing it was. My back could already anticipate the long show that Mr Springsteen is famous for.
We learned that some Auckland friends were also going – bam!, hotel cancelled. Our early afternoon flight and initial destination Out West meant a short build-up, unlike the many no doubt paying careful attention to pre-concert ‘hydration’.
Once we were all assembled we headed south to the venue. I’d not been to this stadium for a long time, but sporadic visits had included a couple of other concerts, the first game of the rugby league team now known as the NZ Warriors, and the 1990 Commonwealth Games where I was a volunteer.
Mike and I parted company with our friends who had tickets elsewhere and made our way in, bypassing the ridiculously long queue for wine and beer. While polishing off hot sausages and doughnuts, the opening act started up. In we went. I’ve been a fan of Aussie rocker Jimmy Barnes since I was about 15 and it was great to see him live again.
The stage changeover was a chance to rest my back and as we weren’t too packed in I just sat down where I was. After a while though I decided I was pushing my luck in a sea of standing people especially given my close proximity to several male behinds.
In front of us a young man collapsed backwards and had some kind of open-eyed turn. Alarming to observe and as friends and strangers rallied around him, it occurred to me that this would be a perfect opportunity to test drive the first aid skills I’d picked up a few weeks before. But then he was on his feet, dazed but ok.
Distracted by that, I missed Bruce Springsteen arrive on stage. A surge of excitement redirected my attention and I saw the man, wearing guitar and harmonica, move into position. I figured his first song was an acoustic version of one of his own and, still not quite focused, I missed the lyrical cues that it was a rendition of a song by NZ musician Lorde. Way to endear yourself to the home crowd, Mr Springsteen.
The E Street Band, Springsteen’s main backing band since the year I was born, joined in and the show cranked into gear. I’m not intimately familiar with the back catalogue but they did some new stuff, followed by Born in the USA from top to bottom (which was pretty cool as that was big when I was at high school), then wound back into some older stuff. It didn’t really matter that my favourite song didn’t get played, nor that I knew less than half of those that were.
What did matter was the group in front of us that insisted on continually chit-chatting. Why even bother being here, people? We relocated.
Able to concentrate on the music again, the energy of the man, and indeed the whole band, not to mention their individual and collective musical prowess was amazing to watch. There’s something about the synergy and sound of large ensembles that I really enjoy, and give me a good line-up of guitars and I’m usually well entertained. It’s also not every day you see someone playing a guitar with their teeth.
Other memorable segments included the songs where punters were chosen to go up on stage and the memorial clip to band members who’d passed.
Three hours and two encores later the show finished as it started; one man, his guitar and his harmonica.