I ummed and ahhhed a lot before grabbing a ticket for Springsteen’s gig in the Millennium Stadium on Tuesday. I’m a big fan (although I feel less than committed next to these guys), but the near 65 quid entry fee would usually get me into about 7 gigs.
But I did buy a ticket. Partly because I’ve never seen a Stadium gig before, and partly because it’s THE BOSS! Bugger me it was worth it.
I was a bit sceptical about how a band could play for over 3 hours without losing momentum. But they did. I think partly it’s down to the performance (he collected banners to display, he immersed himself in the crowd), but it’s also down to his varied back catalogue. He kicked off the set with a bit of gospel with This Little Light of Mine, went into the very 80s sounding Cynthia, and the set also included the Irish Folk influenced Death to my Hometown and the pomp of Born to Run. He finished with a lovely stripped back acoustic version of Thunder Road, a lovely nod to his Nebraska and Ghost of Tom Joad albums.
Whilst I was watching the gig a few parallel bands sprang to mind – the Foo Fighters have become a stadium band these days, and whilst they’ve done their utmost to smooth every potential edge from their music, Bruce and the E-Street band seem to want to cram as many different things as possible into theirs. And whilst the Rolling Stones are the biggest live band in the world, no-one seems to love their new stuff the way the crowd tonight loved the Boss’s (We Take Care of Our Own and Wrecking Ball had as big a cheer as Bruce’s older material).
I first checked out the Boss’ stuff after reading Stage Fighters by Paul Stenning, in which both Timmy C and Tom Morello talk about their love for the big man. At first it felt a bit odd that members of Rage would be into a singer that I considered to be a bit middle of the road, but when I sat down and listened to the lyrics it all made sense (though plainly not to everyone, as Reagan misappropriated Born in the USA pretty badly). Tonight helped me further along that path – yes, it’s music for the masses and does occasionally veer towards being MOR, but the whole band clearly loved playing live, an impression I didn’t get when I saw both Arcade Fire and Bloc Party play this small city of ours.
What a gig!
PS Springsteen likes burgers – potentially best blog ever!