Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Bruce Springsteen at the Izod Center

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ, April 3, 2012

The man with the megaphone said, “253!”  We had 503 and 504.  Four hundred people were going to be allowed into the pit, starting with number 253, so we were winners.  CoolDaughter #1 and I high-fived each other, and after waiting for another hour, we were ushered into the arena.

Springsteen’s fans are a nice bunch, and I had fun chatting with a couple that had traveled from Kingston, Ontario just for this show.  Another group, who must have had numbers in the 250’s, had staked out a spot right up against the center of the stage.  Noting CD #1’s age and height, they made some space and let her move in right up front.

Then, the lights went out, and there they were.  I mean, right there.  Bruce and his beat up, old Telecaster were only yards away from us.  The band started off, as they have been for the whole tour so far, with “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” and “Badlands.”

Here’s where I’ll point out that I went to a Yankee playoff game once.  My friend and I had these great seats for some reason, just to the first base side of home plate among the New York glitterati.  The Yankees won that game on a walk-off home run by Bernie Williams in extra innings.  The stadium erupted.  That was nothing.

The one word that keeps coming to my mind to describe the feeling in the pit during those first three songs is “joy.”  I felt it myself as I screamed, “Take your best shot!! Lemme see what you got!!”  And I felt it when CD #1 turned to me, mouth wide open in a silent scream of, “GAAAAAH!”

After the exuberant opening, the show was an emotional roller coaster.  Springsteen has a relationship with his audience, in the pit and beyond, like I’ve never seen in another performer.  He ended “My City of Ruins” with a band roll call, during which he asked, “Are we missing anybody?  Are we MISSING anybody?”  The crowd erupted in cheers, and some tears, for Danny Federici and, of course, Clarence Clemons.  He immediately followed with a raucous version of “So Young and in Love,” during which CD #1 got to sing into his mic.  “GAAAAAH!” again.

At another point, he noted “It’s fun in here, but there’s a lot of hard times out there,” before delivering “Jack of All Trades,” from Wrecking Ball.  It’s a slow, ultimately angry, song that seems overlong on the album.  Last night, the crowd sat and listened, mostly silent, until somewhat chillingly cheering the line, “If I had me a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight.”

The crowd was lifted again during a soul music medley of “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and “634-5789.”  During the latter, Springsteen climbed down from the stage and disappeared into the area of the pit to stage left.  One of our new companions assured me, “Don’t worry.  When it gets crazy, we’ve got her covered,” referring to CD #1.  I had no idea what that could mean, but I smiled and gave a thumbs up.  Then Springsteen popped up on a platform at the rear of the section, chugged a fan’s beer,  …and threw himself into the crowd.  He surfed all the way back to the stage, and I helped hoist him back up there.  For a moment, I held Bruce Springsteen -- The Boss -- above my head with my own two hands.

Once Springsteen was back on stage, things became serious again for "American Skin (41 Shots)."  The song which generated so much controversy when performed in New York in the wake of the Amadou Diallo shooting didn't appear to have that effect last night.  Everyone around me sang every word and cheered it at the end.  And Bruce never spoke of what everyone knew had moved him to begin performing the song again on this tour.

CD #1 was a trooper, but she has her limits.  We gave up our spot right in front of the stage for the last part of the show so that we could grab a soda and move to a roomier area of the pit.  From there, we watched “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and joined in the minute-long ovation that followed “...and the Big Man joined the band!”  The band stood stoic, hands folded as Springsteen encouraged us to cheer louder.

Last night, obviously, was great.  I had a concert experience I’ll never forget.  I hope I gave CD #1 an experience she’ll never forget.  For all of last night’s great moments, though, the one that will stand out most for me happened before the show even started when I looked over my daughter’s shoulder as she texted my wife from my phone.

“Rocks to be alone with DAD! He is so fun…”

It’s cool to be a cooldad.


  1. Great entry Jim...I was practically in tears reading this. Chance of a lifetime for CD#1. Maybe a sandwich next time? Jus' sayin.

  2. Excellent post, thanks for sharing! I wrote a blog post myself, from the flip side: :)

    1. Thanks. I hope CD#1 looks out for me the same way you look out for your dad.

  3. really nice entry,CD#1 is heart touching!

    1. Thanks! And thank you for stopping by.