Friday, October 09, 2009

Birthday Bruce

So, ok - you've heard of Cory, right? Well, she takes really good care of me for my birthday. (My birthday was October 7, for those of you who pay attention to such things.) This year the first way that took shape was in the form of tickets to see Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium.

This, it bears noting, is a pretty good gift. A pretty AWESOME gift.

He did a series of five concerts to close the stadium, which is getting demolished to make room for a shiny new stadium next door next season, so these are special, historic shows. And these were field tickets, which unless you have a broken leg or something are so the way to go. To get the best spot on the field you have to show up early, so it takes a pretty good chunk of day to do it. And we had to miss my good friend Lia's birthday party in the Bronx, which was sad in its way, but everything lined up so amazingly as to make up for all else.

It was predicted to be a really rainy day, so we weren't going to go for the extra special super early version of tailgating in the parking lot. Instead we went the the gym and then hit the grocery store to grab some provisions and Cory went uptown to get the tickets from her friend and to pop in on the Dan Graham exhibition at the Whitney (Cory got soaked on the walk from her friend's place to the museum. That would be one way the stars didn't actually line up too well.) Meanwhile, I put the cooler together with beer, soda and food, and eventually the weather cleared up as we hit the road.

Comedy of errors with the parking staff, and we found ourselves in a less-than-ideal lot, but after a little bit of E Street shuffling, we ended up in a great spot and had some food and drinks and took in the scene. The sun was even kind of shining by this point, and it turned into a pretty nice afternoon. A couple things I wasn't prepared for in today's world of tailgating: the amount of fairly professional sound systems people brought for sharing their tunes with the world; and more surprisingly - the proliferation of professional-looking beer pong tables.

Who knew?

At around 6 we went to the gate - they weren't letting people in yet (other than the first thousand, who'd been there since about midday to get the spots RIGHT up against the rail.) It wasn't that bad a line, and they let us in at about 6:30. We got wristbands of our own, which let us go up to the front portion of the floor they'd laid down on the field. We had a great spot! 20 yards or so from the stage, close enough that we didn't need those jumbotrons to see what was going on.

And what a show!!! The Boss knows how to do it up. Such an artist; such a showman. I didn't bring my camera, natch, so was limited to what I could catch on my cell phone.

As I said, these shows are going to be the last concerts that happen in Giants Stadium before they tear it down, so Bruce wrote a song for the occassion.

We got to be among the first to hear it! Ok, among the first several thousand.

For this series of shows, the band is playing albums in their entirety. We got to hear Born in the U.S.A., which of course was the record that took Bruce from stardom to Monster Mondo Mega Stardom. It was fantastic - of all his albums, this is probably the most stadium-friendly, the one that was kind of built to fill these ginormous venues. Here's the setlist, with the U.S.A. songs shaded red.

Wrecking Ball
Out in the Street
Outlaw Pete (does anyone else think the riff on this song sounds dangerously close to the Kiss song "I Was Made for Lovin' You"?)
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
Born in the U.S.A.
Cover Me
Darlington County
Working on the Highway
Downbound Train
I'm on Fire
No Surrender
Bobby Jean
I'm Goin' Down
Glory Days
Dancing in the Dark
My Hometown

The Promised Land
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
The Rising
Born to Run
Raise Your Hand (instrumental version, while he went out into the crowd to pick up request signs)
Jersey Girl
Kitty's Back
Detroit Medley
American Land
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Thunder Road

Do you see that?? The first request he played was "Jersey Girl," which was AMAZING because a) he hardly ever does that song, b) hello - it's just a-ma-zing, and c) hel-LO? - I was there with my Jersey Girl! And then he did another rarity in "Kitty's Back" that completely blew me away, really let the band stretch musically: solos from Charles Giordano (rest in peace, Danny Federici) Curt Ramm (a phenomenal trumpeter who joined them for these shows) Roy Bittan and Bruce himself (people still underrate his guitar playing, in my opinion) just took the show way over the top. No Rosalita that night, but Thunder Road brought things home very very nicely.

One more blurry photo before I go. When he does "Dancing in the Dark" he usually brings someone up on stage to dance (a la Courtney Cox in that video way back when the song came out.) For this show he brought up this teenage gal who looked nervous for about a half a second and then totally tore it up with the Boss!

After they finished the song, Springsteen let her friends (her mom?) take their picture, then he showed us the sign that she'd held up to get his attention: "13th Birthday Dance?" Pretty rad.

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