Tuesday night, August 30, 2016, was my 24th Springsteen show. I walked from my house in Troy to my first show, when I was 16. My second show was the first date with my husband, The River Tour in Buffalo 1980, and we just celebrated 35 years together. I have been in the front row a few times: I’ve held Bruce’s legs for an entire song.
Now I’ve seen a record-breaking (4 hour, 1 minute) marathon: the third Metlife Stadium concert of the River Tour 2016 in New Jersey.
Bobby Oliver of nj.com wrote: “… length achievements should be tossed aside, as this wasn’t some cookie-cutter hit parade that managed to run a few moments over — for many Bruce diehards it was a bonafide dream set.”
Was it the best of the three shows? It’s hard to say. They all had their special moments. Aug. 23 had “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and the debut of the string section, for instance. Aug. 25 had Tom Morello’s thrilling guitar solo on “The Ghost of Tom Joad” and the onstage participation of a just-engaged couple during “Jersey Girl.” This one had … well, all kinds of good stuff, as I’ve just written.
Let’s call it a draw, and note how amazing it is that Springsteen is still finding ways to make every night special.
People always ask me after a show: “How does the show compare to others you’ve seen?”
It was the BEST SHOW , and here’s why:
- Bruce made me feel alive, 16 years old and like I was back at RPI Field House in 1978. From an $8 ticket to a $150 ticket. Still priceless.
- Bruce made me feel all of my 54 years, and then some. I took the entire week off for this, and I’ll need it. Pete Chianca at Blogness on the Edge of Town wrote a story about Springsteen’s middle-age fans. We got in line at 11:30 a.m. and the show ended at midnight. We didn’t stand and stay in line the whole time, but it was a marathon day sitting in the blazing sun. The big question while in line: how much hydration do I need without having to go to the bathroom.
- “New York City Serenade” started the show. It is the song I named this blog after — the tune I remember the most playing while sitting in my room as a 16-year-old. (I’ll update the video below when an Aug. 30 vid gets posted.)
- “Jungleland” returns. The first time for me since the reunion tour. Bruce’s embrace of Jake after his solo was a touching — yet joyful — moment. Oh, and right before that, “Secret Garden” played for only the third time live.
5. Being part of the pit in Jersey. I always wanted to catch Bruce in one of those seaside bars, and it really felt like a crowded, crazy nightclub down there. Twice I had beers dumped down the back of my legs. No problem. My white Chuck II Converse sneakers went in the wash when I got home and survived. The fans were crazy, fun, a few times annoying, sign-crazy, beer-soaked, smelly — simply wonderful.
6. Meeting some fabulous Brucebuds. We hung out all day with Ellen Koreman of Nijmegen and Marjan Dijkstra of Alkmaar — traveling companions from the Netherlands who became friends during this tour at a concert in Brussels and on a whim got tickets a week ago and flew in on Sunday. Marjan gave up two weeks of holidays to arrange it with her (other) boss.
7. Partying at Redds and taking the shuttle. The staff at Redds were all amazing and parking at the bar took all the hassle away. Meanwhile, we were houseguests Monday and Tuesday with our close friends Sandy (yes, my Jersey friend’s name is a Bruce song on the setlist, of course) and Jim and being able to bring our dog, Bruce, to meet their West Highland Terrier Otis. All made it a perfect few days just a couple hundred turnpike miles away.
8. The setlist highlights in the first half were off the charts: “Blinded By The Light,” “Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street,” “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City,” “Spirit In The Night,” “Summertime Blues,” “Sandy,” “Kitty’s Back,” and “Pretty Flamingo.” “Incident” into “Rosalita” I have a short video below. You can hear the anticipation and excitement of the crowd as Roy Bittan polishes off the final chords and Bruce waits for the segue.
9. Then “Atlantic City” into “I’m Going Down.”
10. Then “Living Proof” into “Candy’s Room” into “She’s the One.”
If I were to spend a weekend with my most knowledgable Springsteen pals and try to develop the ultimate setlist, the one unleashed August 30 at Metlife would be close. I told my pal Deb, who saw Bruce for the first time Tuesday night with a full band, that she needed to see at least one more show because “Thunder Road” was missing. And so it begins …