I started writing an account of my first (and the next six) Bruce Springsteen concert(s) and realized that (a) it was really too long for a comment and (b) this was one of those wonderful moments from my life I'd like to immortalize. It may mean little to anyone else, but for me it was one of the better memories. Here's the story.
Earlier That Day...
This would have been somewhere in the early 1980s. I lived in Los Angeles then and was a field service technician for a national company. I was at an account installing a fax machine (industrial-strength, circa 1982 machine; it was the size of a large dishwasher). As is often the case, one of the folks that worked there had nothing better to do than hang out and watch me work...
So we get to talking, and at one point he says, "Yeah, I'm going to see The Boss tonight." I started to say, "Huh? What 'boss'," but before I made a fool of myself, synapses finally fired, and I actually said, "Cool! He's really good." (I was not a "fan" at this point, just someone who's primary music was Rock & Roll, so I was familar with his big hits.)
The guy goes on to say, "Yeah, I have two tickets, but I don't have anyone to take." (Two Springsteen tickets and you can't score a date? Hmmm. Although, as I write this, for the first time, it suddenly occurs to me... could he have been trying to pick me up? Seems unlikely, I'm neither handsome nor pretty. On the other hand, neither was he. ;-)
Ever the opportunist, I immediately said, "Well, I'd love to see The Boss. I'll buy that other ticket off you, if you like."
He did, so I did.
Later That Night...
For those who follow Springsteen, this was the opening night concert for the opening of the international tour promoting The River album. That tour began, and ended nine months later, in Los Angeles, but I'll get to that later.
I show up, and it turns out, because it happened to be Halloween Night, at least a third of the audience is in costume. And not just any costumes, but mostly costumes inspired by Springsteen's music. (There were several devils in blue dresses, for example.)
Our seats were good, in the second level, but close to the stage (concert was a USC Coliseum for those that know LA). Then more magic happened. Two men, standing in the aisle looking at their tickets and the seats clearly had a problem. I forget the exact nature of the problem now, but the upshot was that one of them asked me, "Would you mind trading your seat for this?"
He hands me a ticket. I look at the ticket. It says, Floor. Row 22.
Ever the opportunist, I immediately said, "Hell, Yes!"
(My seat mate, who'd sold me that magic ticket must have been looking at me with death beam eyes. I knew better than to look back. I just headed quickly down to Row 22!)
The (First) Concert...
If you've ever seen Springsteen in concert, you know he doesn't bother with costumes or fancy stage sets or glam Rock & Roll. He and the E Street Band just play kick ass Rock & Roll (you know, that "boogie woogie music"). For Four Hours.
Well, on this night, because it was the beginning of the tour, and because, hey, it was Halloween night, things went a little differently.
The lights went down, the audience quieted (as much as they ever do at a Rock concert), and then the stage was filled with blue light... and dry ice fog! Six stage hands march slowly on stage carrying... a coffin. They set the coffin down on its end and opened it. Inside... was The Boss (complete with Telecaster).
He lept out (the band had crept onto the stage by now and taken their places) and jumps into a Springsteen cover of an old tune, Can't Keep Me Out Of A Haunted House.
And then there was music. Four hours of music. Springsteen music. There are no words that can describe it; you have to experience it.
I walked out a total fan (with several tee-shirts). I bought all his albums the next day.
In the process I discovered that the tour ended in LA nine months hence. Seven nights; I bought tickets for six (one was sold out already).
Nine months later (kind of gestation-like), six nights, six concerts (six dates, I can score a date with Springsteen tickets :-).
To this day, The River is still my favorite Springsteen album.
One side note: upon his return, The Boss was clearly exhausted. You could see it in his face (but you could NOT detect it in his performance). Back on the drum riser, he had a large square plastic tub of ice and water. Every couple songs, he'd go running back to it and dunk his entire head in the tub for as long as he could hold his breath.
Then he's surface, shake off the water and return, dripping wet, to center stage to resume the show.
I still get emotional remembering how great those concerts were. All Hail The Boss!!
© 2008 Chris from MN