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June 2, 2008


The Boss @ The Emirates

by quaesitor

Springsteen Emirates May0810

Well, after all the intensities of last week, Saturday brought some blessed relief. For we’d managed to get tickets to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in their 2nd gig at the Arsenal Emirates stadium. Pretty good seats (as shown by my photo above) – first tier directly opposite the stage so no cricked necks but could certainly have done with some binoculars. And of course, distance was not an impediment to hearing! What a great night. Despite being part of the Magic tour (a powerful album, incidentally), what was REALLY fun was the trip down nostalgia lane. LOADS of songs from the 70s (see the set list), including no less than 5 from the seminal 1975 album BORN TO RUN. It is 20 years since I got to hear him with the E St Band on the Tunnel of Love tour in 1988 at the old Wembley stadium (we were standing 10 away from the stage), and then a few months later on the Amnesty International Human Rights Tour (when they shared the stage with Sting, Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour).

A real treat was the chance to hear Jungleland live, which has to be one of my favourite songs of all time by anybody (see lyrics below). It has to be heard even though the words stand up by themselves. It’s wonderfully evocative of urban youth culture in the sweltering evening heat of a New York summer – 10 minutes of epic word-painting at its very best, driven by superb musical power and invention (especially because of Roy Bittan’s peerless piano-playing). The E Street Band were all there on Saturday in perfect rhythm and energy – although perhaps Little Steven’s ‘singing’ is even rougher than it used to be.

But there were other highlights:

  • Witnessing the 58 year old Bruce still commandingly hold a stadium audience for 2.5 hours without a break (and manage to surf the half stage on his knees after a running jump)
  • Hearing the band do requests from the groundlings – including Darkness on the Edge of Town, Backsteets, and Because the Night.
  • One or two stories about the late, great Danny Federici (who died in April) including a few gags about him growing huge marijuana plants and the resulting scrapes with the police.

Unlike the old days though there was very little story-telling – and the only political moment was when he explained something of the meaning of Livin’ in the future – a song about the fearfulness of finding civil liberties aggressively eroded in post-9/11 neo-con America. So all in all, nearly 2.5 hours of solid music.

But it was all worth it – even with the traffic chaos surrounding the stadium (it took us over an hour to get just a few miles to home). One mildly amusing feature was the carpet of silver or receding hair in the stadium (a mother just the row below us had brought her very bored 12-year-old son and was boogieing with the best of them, much to the boy’s palpable and overwhelmed embarrassment – perhaps he’ll understand one day) – the average age in the 40,000 or so present was probably not much less than Bruce himself. It all made the policing efforts outside the stadium seem rather like overkill: for on the main streets leading to Arsenal and Highbury & Islington tubes, pairs of horses carrying mounted officers were stationed every 100 metres! What on earth were they expecting?!

To see a whole load more photos taken on Saturday click on the photo below:

JUNGLELAND (Bruce Springsteen, BORN TO RUN, 1975)

The rangers had a homecoming in Harlem late last night
And the Magic Rat drove his sleek machine over the Jersey state line
Barefoot girl sitting on the hood of a Dodge
Drinking warm beer in the soft summer rain
The Rat pulls into town rolls up his pants
Together they take a stab at romance and disappear down Flamingo Lane

Well the Maximum Lawman run down Flamingo chasing the Rat and the barefoot girl
And the kids round here look just like shadows always quiet, holding hands
From the churches to the jails tonight all is silence in the world
As we take our stand down in Jungleland

The midnight gang’s assembled and picked a rendezvous for the night
They’ll meet ‘neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light
Man there’s an opera out on the Turnpike
There’s a ballet being fought out in the alley
Until the local cops, Cherry Tops, rips this holy night
The street’s alive as secret debts are paid
Contacts made, they vanished unseen
Kids flash guitars just like switch-blades hustling for the record machine
The hungry and the hunted explode into rock’n’roll bands
That face off against each other out in the street down in Jungleland

In the parking lot the visionaries dress in the latest rage
Inside the backstreet girls are dancing to the records that the D.J. plays
Lonely-hearted lovers struggle in dark corners
Desperate as the night moves on, just a look and a whisper, and they’re gone

Beneath the city two hearts beat
Soul engines running through a night so tender in a bedroom locked
In whispers of soft refusal and then surrender in the tunnels uptown
The Rat’s own dream guns him down as shots echo down them hallways in the night
No one watches when the ambulance pulls away
Or as the girl shuts out the bedroom light

Outside the street’s on fire in a real death waltz
Between flesh and what’s fantasy and the poets down here
Don’t write nothing at all, they just stand back and let it all be
And in the quick of the night they reach for their moment
And try to make an honest stand but they wind up wounded, not even dead
Tonight in Jungleland

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jun 2 2008

    I’m jealous. Very jealous. Looks like you had good seats too. Thanks for dropping in on my blog. Its been a fun start for me… and one good blog roll deserves another. This is a great site, Mark. I aspire! Great to see you in Hungary

  2. Jun 2 2008

    The fianceé lives around the corner from Arsenal and her housemate jokingly asked one of the police officers if the crowd was worse than on a match day, and the mounted officer said in all seriousness “much worse, they don’t know how to behave”.

  3. Ross
    Jun 3 2008

    Mark, thanks again for booking the tickets. Was great to claim Bruce as my first Rock concert. If I’m going to do rock concerts from now on though I feel I do need comfortable seats and private toliets!

  4. Jun 3 2008

    Of all the great armies of rock fans, few can match the devotion of Bruce Springsteen’s. For us it’s not just catching just one show-it’s about catching them all. Anyone who has experienced Springsteen in concert will testify that the bond between audience and artist transcends the usual adulation. Something magical, almost mystical happens. Some might describe it as spiritual-most definitely it is life affirming. It is in trying to nail this phenomenon that the beautiful hardbound For You has arrived.(

    Edited by Lawrence Kirsch and replete with an amazing welter of outstanding photographs, it’s a mind-blowing collection of thoughts and stories from fans of every age and many nations, each explaining why Springsteen occupies such an important place in their hearts. Covering all four decades of Springsteen’s career it is possibly the ultimate fanzine for it is the fans who have made the journey and whose words tell us as much about them as they do about Springsteen. The warmth and humanity that flows from every page is truly moving and provides a beacon of hope from which we can all draw strength in these hard times. Not a book to be read at one sitting but rather to revisit and enjoy over time.


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