Thursday, April 9, 2009

Bruuuuuuuce Springsteen and the E Street Band

photo by Daniel Kramer

Growing up on Long Island, going to a Bruce Springsteen concert was a right of passage, like going to the prom or getting a bad perm. It was part of being a teenager. But I was a pathetic outcast because I went off to college without having had that experience. (The concert thing, I mean. I went to the prom WITH a bad perm.)

I was like that strict catholic girl who still hadn't enjoyed her first beer. Well, I popped the tab on that brewski last night! I finally got to see The Boss live and in concert at the Toyota Center in Houston.

The second that tickets went on sale (literally!), I clicked in online and got two of the "best available" seats. They were described as "Floor, general admission." I didn't know exactly what that meant. Would there be chairs? Would we be in some mad scramble to be up front? Were we in a mosh pit? (haha)

I found out right before we left that our tickets were on the floor, general admission and STANDING ROOM ONLY. I wasn't too crazy about that, but there was nothing we could do at that point. I pictured us being pushed and shoved in some sweaty, drunken crowd. (Maybe I've been to too many Taylor Hicks concerts?)

When we got to the Toyota Center, there were different lines for different types of tickets. Even though we were early, one line was especially long and curved around the front of the arena. Of course, that was our's. By the looks of it, I assumed we'd be standing in the back for the show.

We were swept away into the Toyota Center, asked to show our tickets in exchange for a wristband and found ourselves walking on to the cement floor of the arena. We walked past the sound engineers and right up to a barrier, which separated us from VIP.

This photo was taken looking back from where we came. You're looking at the sound guys and some security walking around. The VIP section and the stage is behind me. By showtime this whole area was full of people:

The "X" in the gray area below is where we were standing:

We waited impatiently for an hour for the show to start. Finally, at 8:15, the lights dimmed. I heard a woman behind me say, "Why are they booing?" Actually the crowd was yelling, "Bruuuuuuuuuce!!!"

First of all, let me get this out of the way. I thought Bruce looked great. Very fit, very masculine, very much like a rock icon. He and everyone on stage wore black. He's very intense- lots of power behind every belted-out note and every strum of the guitar. He often banged the floor with his boot heel as he worked at the mic.

photo by Daniel Kramer

The crowd ate it up. Most of them knew the parts Bruce wanted them to sing or when to throw their arms up in the air. The energy in the place was amazing!

photo by Daniel Kramer

Early on in the show Bruce said they were there to build a house: "We're gonna build a house right here, right now! We're gonna build a house of music, a house of noise, a house of joy! And we've got the tools right here on this stage! But we can't do it without you! We'll bring the music and you'll bring the NOISE!!"

And we certainly did.

There was lots and lots of interaction with the crowd-especially with those lucky folks up against the stage. He handed his harmonica to a young girl, he let some little boys strum his guitar, he held out the mic for various people to sing into and once he sat on the edge of the stage, turned round and leaned on the audience while he sang.

For those of us not close enough to touch him, he prompted us to sing along with wild waves of his arms and he strutted around smiling up at the very last rows of seats.

By the way, we weren't the only ones in the audience standing for the show. Everyone was up on their feet. He worked us like a master.

Maybe those of you more familiar with his shows know about this, but I was surprised by the amount of small signs people held up. Somewhere during the middle of the show, Bruce walked along the edge of the stage, reading them and grabbing some.

Then he riffled through the signs, picked one and propped it up against his mic stand. They were song requests.

By the time the band came back to do an encore, I was feeling like I needed to walk around a little. We'd been standing in one spot for hours. We headed for the back of the crowd where there was a wide open area. I turned around and took it all in.

There was the E-Street Band up ahead, bathed in light, still rocking the house. Rising up all around me was the appreciative crowd, on their feet and singing along. What a great moment. But it got even better.

When the first few notes of the last song filled the air, the arena exploded into applause. And then we all danced in the dark.

That's why you buy a ticket on the floor, standing room only. It felt like we were in a club. People danced, fell, laughed, got up and danced some more. But in this club (or House of Joy?) the music was provided by Bruce effing Springsteen!

When the lights came up, it was 10:45. Two and a half hours. Damn! they put on a good show. I want to go again! But-hey! How do you get those VIP tickets?

Outlaw Pete
No Surrender
Out in the Street
Working on a Dream
Johnny 99
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Working on the Highway
Cadillac Ranch
It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Promised Land
The Wrestler
Kingdom of Days
Radio Nowhere
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run
* * *
Hard Times
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Land of Hope and Dreams
American Land
Dancing in the Dark


Anonymous said...

"Why are they booing.." What an amatuer.

He is sooooo gorgeous!!! Was Patty there? I saw him last year and am seeing him in May. What energy, charisma, power, and incredible music. I'm psyched that they did Rosalita at your concert,hope they do it in May. Was Clarence sitting in a Lazy Boy on stage? Too funny.

Anonymous said...

I am so happy that you got to see The Boss in concert!!! He's the love of my life by the way. lol Isn't he absolutely amazing in concert? You can get better seats if you wait until the last couple of hours. Sometimes you can even get VIP seating. It's taking a chance, but usually it's well worth it. Tickets that sell for $1,000 on up go all the way down to around $100 a couple of hours before the concert starts. You can find the tickets at broker sites. Seeing Bruce Springsteen in concert is something you never forget!
aka PurpleButterflies

Anonymous said...

I forgot that you asked about the signs. He has sign reguests time at his concerts. People will even write things on really small stuff such as gum wrappers and Bruce will read the wrapper to the crowd. Or the audience will have a small sign that says they want Stevie to do something and he does it, or have another band member sing, etc. Bruce Springsteen really loves his fans and it shows in his actions. Did you know about the Walmart thing where the fans got mad, and he said that fans will call you on that stuff "as it should be." Those were his words when he was talking about the mistake he made by making a deal with Walmart. He has a high regard for his fans.

Sunny said...

I've seen him a few times, he's always hella fun.

jerseyirish said...

Caryl, Sounds like you had a great time and Bruce was right on spot, he is very enjoyable to go see. Haven't been to a concert in quite some time but he always puts on a great show.


caryl said...

Patty was there. My sister told me to look for Clarence's big chair, but I didn't see one.

Thanks, Jean for the info! Next time, I'll bring a sign (maybe!). I've heard that before about great tickets sometimes being available at the last minute. Maybe I'll give that a shot.

lois meyer said...

Caryl, you describe the concert so well, I can really imagine being there! Glad you had such a great time. Did Greg go with you or Jamie?

Love, Caryl's Mom