Now, I’m somewhat of a Springsteen fan, but by no means a superfan. At least until tonight. Sure, I had “Born in the USA” as a teenager (who didn’t?), and loved “No retreat, no surrender” and “My hometown,” but Glory Days and the title track never grabbed me. But I lucked into some last minute tickets to see him on night #1 of his final run at Giants Stadium in late 2009. This was own backyard, for one last party, not holding anything back. (Each night he was going to play one entire album start-to-finish, and this was the night he was serving up “Born to run.”) Here are my observations as one of the 50,000 in attendance.
He starts out the night with a new song he’s never played for anyone before. It’s called “Bring on your wrecking ball,” a pitch-perfect anthem written for Giants stadium herself, as she stares imminent destruction in the face. Less than a minute in, it’s giving me goosebumps. By the end, I think this might be my favorite Bruce song ever. It’s a feeling I will have 5 more times by night’s end.
Lordy max Weinberg looks like he might croak any minute, but he’s givin’ it everything.
Bruce performs like he just lost three brothers in a war, full of all the fight & desperation in the world.
He’s got that hardened quality you normally only see from someone who’s been trapped in a coal mine for 5 weeks and just escaped.
I love that no one in Bruce’s band is under 50. He doesn’t want any pussies on stage with him.
After the 3rd song, and a pretty good round of screaming applause, Bruce isn’t impressed. He dares the crowd, “Whadya got?” The roar back in double the volume. He still shakes his head. “That ain’t fifty-thousand!” They double their volume again. “That’s more like it,” he says, and strikes up the chords to the next son.
He might be 60, but he’s an 18 yr old kid tonite.
Looking at a closeup of Bruce on the big screen, I don’t care whatcha say, but without Bruce Springsteen, Ben Affleck never happened.
Bruce isn’t a singer. He’s a boxer. With a microphone.
His songs are 100% optimism. I haven’t heard a minor chord all night.
He chastises the crowd, “that ain’t 50,000!!!” if they aren’t singing loud enough.
Nils Lofgeen could stand to lose a few.
Finally, after an hour of warmup songs, he’s starting “Born to Run,” top to finish. He goes to announce it to the crowd, but they already know, have been waiting for this night all their lives. And all 50,000 help him belt out the first verse to Thunder Road. It’s actually louder than the entire stadium PA system.
Between songs, a fan offers Bruce his full beer, and not only does Bruce take it, but he chugs it, and isn’t afraid to let it drip all down his chest. Just like how he drinks in life itself.
The band tears into the opening drums and chords of Born to run and the place nearly self combusts from an explosion of enthusiasm.
The people singing along are reliving the best parts of their lives. They’re giving it 16,000%.
Bruce has the house turn the lights all the way up. It’s a move that would kill the vibe in any other show, but Bruce fans can never get enough of the light. They get energy they catch off of each other is contagious.
Bruce’s voice is like 80 grit sandpaper, rough but with a smooth whiskey finish.
I’ve never seem so Many fists pump so perfectly in unison before.
Bruce breaks a string on his Tele and chucks it to his roadie. Roadie chucks him back an identical Tele, like this is a move they’ve done six thousand times before. He must have 20 of ‘em ready to go back there, like a stockade of rifles ready for war.
A 12 yr-old kid is brought up on stage from the audience to join in on a song. He can’t sing for shit. But Bruce doesn’t care. Gives him a loving nuggie anyway, like he’s just adopted him into his family.
I think if Bruce died, the whole country wouldn’t know what to do with itself for a few weeks straight. People wouldn’t be able to work, the economy would come to halt.
3 hrs into the show, Bruce is running laps around the stage, and demanding of the audience:
“Is there anybody alive out there?”