(Editor’s Note: My 26-year-old niece Amanda drove 9 1/2 hours by herself to witness Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio. It was her ninth show. She is a Special Education teacher in the Guilderland School District and the tickets were a gift to herself for her birthday next week. At first I was upset I didn’t just blow off work and buy one of her extra tickets, but after reading her story I realized her dream wouldn’t have come true if I joined her. I feel better now … I love you and I’m so happy for you!)
By Amanda Bassett
It was Holy Week, and Bruce didn’t fail to provide a religious experience. The nine-and-a-half-hour drive to Columbus, Ohio, was filled with corn and farm land, but as soon as I arrived I forgot all about the long haul. Music was being piped into the somewhat “Stepford Wives”-like planned Nationwide Arena District, and in anticipation of the concert the music was mainly the featured artist of the day: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. No complaints from me there!
I firmly place my good concert position on Bruce karma; I had two extra tickets that I practically gave away to a guy and his buddy who wanted to attend. I told them “Just make sure you love the show.” Then we all lined up outside in the cold according to our numbers. My wristband was 88. I had gone early in the day to get my wristband and I decided 88 was a good number to have because it’s my birth year. When it was time to draw 790 was called and they let everyone up to 111 in the front pit, I barely made it in. (We guessed about 1,000 people got wristbands, so those 790-1,000 got in, then 1-111.) So the guys I gave the tickets to and I were in!
At that point it was the goodwill of fellow fans that got me to the front row center. I could touch the center mic. People were impressed I had driven 9 1/2 hours by myself to see the Boss. It also helps that I didn’t block anybody by being up front! (From small things mamma…). As the first chords of “High Hopes” rang out I knew this was going to be like no concert I had ever attended.
Sure enough Bruce crowd surfed during “Hungry Heart,” and I along with the crush of humanity around me passed him onto stage. Grateful we didn’t drop him, I was wildly unprepared for the experience of turning around and having him laying inches from my face. I thought at that moment I could die happily. Thank god I didn’t and that I stuck around for the rest of the show.
The highlight for me had to be “The River.” A disclaimer … this song gets me crying in the car, so when the harmonica hit it was all over. This was one of my parents’ favorite songs and it always reminds me of them. They got me hooked on Bruce with this song, and I owe them everything for that. When my mother passed away a year ago after battling cancer, the song took on a whole new meaning. Bruce sang it perfectly and he walked up to the front of the stage. I will never forget this moment: after he sang the line “Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? Or it something worse?” He reached out and grabbed my hand for the next two lines. It was surreal, and after the song was over the”Brucebuds” around me congratulated me, as if I did anything except stand there tearing up while holding Bruce’s hand!
The rest of the show was just as amazing, with many opportunities to high-five the Boss or put a hand on his boots. I can’t wait to download the live version of the concert so that I can hear my contribution to the guitar-playing during “Born to Run!” (Well, me and about ten other people!) I’m still pinching myself to make sure that I really was staring straight up as he sang at the front mic. I couldn’t even take a ton of videos or photos; I wanted to make sure I was taking it all in and was really immersed in the atmosphere.
Some of the many highlights were “Trapped,” “Prove it All Night” with the 78 intro, and “Bobby Jean.” I’m a Tom Morello fan, so I loved “Tom Joad” and Morello’s solo work on the song. Despite Little Steven and Patti’s absence, the ESB was rocking as always. The two girls who sang “Sunny Day” were GOOD and they had Bruce pull their parents on stage. In my mind, my parents were by my side too.