It's just like the Mastercard commercial: Tickets, 304.50 ... Parking ...23.50 including %$#@#$ Ticketmaster's convenience fee and surcharge.... (gawd I HATE ticketmaster) ...3, bottles of water 10.50 ...the look on my son's face with his fist pumping and singing Badlands --- PRICELESS.
My wife Melissa and I had sworn two years ago at the JPJ that it was the last time. My 10th, her ....almost as many times seeing the "heart-stopping, pants-dropping,
house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, history making, nerve breaking, Viagra-taking, love-making -Le-gen-dary E - Street - Band!" But now the band was back and Mr. Springsteen, after the loss of Clarence Clemmons, had put together a 20 piece band that was putting some of the most legendary shows, even by Springsteen standards, night after night after night. Bruce is 63, and still jumps the piano, plays for 3 hours a night, and now includes a few emotional rememberances of Clarence in each show which culminates in a video tribute right after the part in Tenth Ave Freeze Out that mentions that "the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band." Fans clap and scream and shout their appreciation of ...what was for me, one of the guys I spent the 10 best nights of my life. (not including things like the birth of my son, the day I got married, the day Virginia Tech played in the national championship etc)
Yes, for me, since the first time I heard Rosalita, or the first time I heard WLS and John Landecker in Chicago play Born To Run on my little red transistor radio, or the first time I heard the Born To Run album complete from the first strains of Thunder Road to the last wail of Jungleland, I was hooked and destined to follow along with Bruce and his band and his music and lyrics in the sidecar of my life. And perhaps it was on April 22, 1976 in Burruss Hall in Blacksburg on the campus of Virginia Tech that Bruce was solidified as my musical commandant, or perhaps it was when standing in line after middle school at Squires Hall waiting in line with others who had camped out for days for tickets, when they announced "this concert is sold out ...but we have gone to Heironimous in Roanoke for a handful of tickets," and enough people left to guarantee me genuine tickets to my very first rock and roll show. How does a 13 year old afford to go? Tickets were only...ONLY...4.50 (students and dates). So we went ...we were amazed ...and I was spoiled. The best concert artist that there ever was or ever will be was my first. And after four encores, playing Twist and Shout for the only half the audience who had stayed but would NOT let him leave, and being carried off on a stretcher, Springsteen ...music, lyrics, band, and performance, were as ingrained in my soul as anything. And growing up without a predominant male influence, I'd say that I was ripe for a hole to be filled ...and it is and will be for life with the music of Bruce.
And ten times before ...on the Born to Run tour, the Born in the USA tour, the F Street Band tour, the Risin Tour (where I first dragged my wife to NJ to see the legend and nearly screwed up our good thing for being a bit toooooo enthusiastic...story another time), and the Magic tour. Now, for the Wreckin Ball Tour, it was the three of us.
So it was on this evening in Charlottesville that I wanted to share what has made me so very happy so many times. You may ask if a 10 1/2 year old has knowledge of the music ...the answer is yes. E Street Radio from Sirius is constantly on in the car. And we listened every morning as every track of Wrecking Ball was revealed one every day before the album came out. And we heard the Apollo show as a family with a Friday night party in the living room. So, yes, he was familiar with the music.
The first surprise of the night was that the tickets, in the lowers and in row C, well it turns out row C is the front row. When someone said "you are in our seats," I was like "no ...this is row c," and she says "no ..this is row E, row C is down there !" This was important because our son has Aspergers and we tried to prepare him as best we could with all the negative things that could happen so we wouldn't have a meltdown. One was that someone would inevitably stand up and block his view...but in the front row, that would not be a problem. This was a HUGE win.
And in a three hour show that included things die hard fans would appreciate and casual first time fans would adore, there were moments that Bruce delivered, unforgettable moments that the crowd delivered that night that I'd put up against any concert crowd I'd ever been a part of, and life memory moments of seeing my wife and son drinking it all in. Just being there, being a part of it, being in it with my son, it was about the greatest night of my life. Whatever crap day to day life can deal out, one night can make it all seem worthwhile.
We did the "OOOH" grunt in the opener Shackled and Drawn. I sang the opening verse of Hungry Heart with the crowd and my son joined in for the chorus as best he could. We were reverent in rememberance of Clarence and Danny during My City in Ruins where the spotlight shone on the place on the stage where they both would have been had they lived. We watched in awe at the newfound chemistry between Bruce and Jake Clemmons during Spirit in the Night, with my son screaming "ALL NIGHT" with all of his voice and calling out "I love you Bruce" during one of the quiet parts. We enjoyed the children of Waitin on a Sunny Day sing along while I wondered if my son thought he could have done better. And though were were all so exhausted but still exuberant, we fist pumped and sang along with Badlands, realized an answered prayer when he closed with Land of Hope and Dreams, and with the lights up, danced til after 11pm during the encores of the showstopping Jungleland, Born To Run, Seven Nights to Rock and Dancin in the Dark.
And then ...finally....Tenth Ave ....with the tribute to Clarence....where you give whatever you have left in your body to hollar and scream and REMEMBER Clarence Clemmons.
One final bow, a trip to Sheetz on the way home, and a 2am bedtime for the boy while my wife and I marveled at how well he did on such an important night to me ...I may never be prouder.
I was at work but am told in skipping the next days school he slept til after 1pm. A Springsteen show can knock you out like that. The next day at work I was a zombie, but it was worth it.
Don't know ...after 11 times...if I will ever go back to see Bruce again. It would be fitting to just let that one be the last hurrah. It's freakin expensive and after all the concerts I've been to, albums, cassettes, 8 tracks, singles, books, music sheets, posters and DVD's I have purchased or that have been purchased for me as gifts, I feel like I probably have furnished at least a corner of one of his mansions. But it led me to that night ...that amazing night in Charlottesville.