Well, I have been to the mountain top and returned, a changed man. I'm speaking, of course, of the "Springsteen Experience -" my recent attendance at the second concert of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's "Working On a Dream" tour. If any of you out there ever have an opportunity to attend one of the Boss' concerts, I would certainly recommend you do so.
After more than 30 years and albums, Springsteen still epitomizes the word "performer." Now over 60 years of age, he still moves about the stage like a man half his age, and really puts himself into each song.
I figured I was in for a special experience, and was certain when the Boss, unlike other top entertainers I have seen - who came out 30-45 minutes after the scheduled start of their show - came out on stage a full hour after the scheduled 7:30 start. Not only had no one in the audience left, there seemed to be a much larger crowd than there would have been had he actually begun at the earlier hour. In fact, in retrospect I am guessing that the late arrivals in the audience are veteran Springsteen concert goers, and knew, unlike us "rookies," that there was no reason to show up early.
My main trepidation prior to the show was that our seats, located on the second level, directly behind the stage, would not prove a very good location. That fear quickly disappeared, though, when two hopes I had prior to the concert both came true. Number one - there were two large screens directly in front of me, with plenty of close-up photography of both Springsteen and the band, so it really was the best of both worlds - kind of like watching the concert on a big screen television, but with great sound as well as the live ambience of the concert experience. Number two, Springsteen played to the whole crowd, so rather than looking at his back the whole time, he would frequently turn and face us, too. Of course, it was a little confusing, because 90% of the time I was watching on the Big Screen, so I didn't always know he was looking our way.
Springsteen obviously has a strong family feeling for the members of the E Street Band, most of whom have been with him from the beginning, and they work "like well-oiled machine."
Once the show got started, Bruce and his cohorts didn't stop. Many years ago, the standard was for the star act to perform for maybe an hour, at most, following two or three opening acts. Springsteen was one of the artists who changed all of that. There were no opening acts last Friday at the show I experienced in Glendale, Arizona, and the headliners performed for close to three hours, virtually non-stop. As expected, several songs from the current release, "Working On a Dream," were performed, but there were also a plethora of songs from throughout the Boss' legendary career, including "Rosalita" and the classic "Born To Run" from the 70's, "Dancing in the Dark" from the 80's, and songs from his 21st Century albums, "The Rising" and "Magic." Though most of the songs performed were written by Springsteen, one of the songs performed in the encore, "Hard Times" was written by Stephen Foster - yes, that Stephen Foster, of "Camptown Ladies" fame - back in the 1850's, and it was performed in the context of today's economic hard times. Because, even though he is obviously a wealthy man, Springsteen continues to represent himself as a "working man of the people," and he pulls it off. In addition to his great singing and guitar playing, he also gave an impassioned plea for two charities for the homeless and displaced that he supports, and urged the audience to "give (to the causes) on the way out."
As I said earlier, I whole - heartedly urge all Rock and Roll fans to attend at least one Springsteen concert in their lifetime.
FYI, he'll be at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on May 11.