Had to very good fortune to catch one of the last remaining Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band ‘The River’ US shows last week. As you might have gathered from previous posts, I’m a big of an unabashed Springsteen fan. I won’t say fanatic because a fanatic will do everything he/she can do to see or listen to Bruce and I’ve actually passed up tickets to see him on past tours. But I’m glad I didn’t do that for this past tour.
Rather than go into the details of the show, (which was great by the way) I want to focus rather on how a Bruce show is so different from every artist out there. The show depends on two factors; Bruce showing up and the crowd showing up. Now I don’t mean physically; sure, Bruce and the crowd are always going to show up in the literal. But I’m referring to the mental/spiritual aspect of a Boss show. The success of a Springsteen gig is as much dependent on the crowd as it is on him. He and the band can take it only so far and without the willing participation of the crowd, the concert flat flies only at half-mast.
At one point during the show, Bruce played ‘I Wanna Marry You’, a deep nugget off 1981’s The River lp. Bruce noticed a hand lettered sign in the audience saying that he wanted to propose to his girlfriend. So what happens next? Bruce signals for the couple to come on stage and the guy gets down on one knee and the girl says ‘yes’ and Bruce blesses them in the spirit of rock and roll. ‘Just one of the services the E Street Band offers!’ Bruce exclaims after the happy couple embrace.
Bruce has a habit and tendency to share the stage. It’s his stage all right; no question about that; but he’s very prone to share that stage. Because he knows that it’s more fun to share something than to keep it all to one’s self.
At any other show, an on-stage marriage proposal would have been the highlight of the night. But not with Bruce. Multiple times during the show, he left the stage only to reappear on a another, smaller stage on the floor where he sang, hi-fived folk, graciously posed for selfies…all the while seemingly to be thoroughly enjoying the heck out of the moment.
It’s tradition that Springsteen brings up someone to dance with him during his song ‘Dancing In The Dark’. Usually it’s a woman; could be young or old. Not tonight though. This time he brought up a gaggle of young girls and their mom to boogie with the Boss. It was a delightful moment and you could see the parental side of Springsteen in full action.
It’s rare when we get to see our musical hero’s on stage. It’s even rarer to be brought up on that self same stage with them.