Bye, bye New Jersey

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford; August 1st / 2nd / 4th / 6th / 7th/ 9th 1999

Seeing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in New Jersey was one of those things I thought only other people were destined to witness. I was wrong and now I do have a story to tell

Sitting aboard a plane, taking one last look at the lights of Newark airport below, I feel tears running down my face. The train that has carried me for the past three months has come to a halt and I have to leave. Even though a sudden sadness strikes me now, I happily look back at the journey that lies behind me and can’t help but smile: One of my biggest dreams has come true. I have seen Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Meadowlands Arena and they even played on my birthday.

It has been one hell of a ride and I loved every minute of it! 13 Shows, starting In Berlin, Germany and ending in New Jersey. Life on the road in May, June and August, sleeping in a tent, spending nights in trains, airports and the meadowlands parking lot and feeling like being taken to the land of hope and dreams. On this tour I found love, made friends and even met the band – how much better can it get?

How would you feel if you were in a situation like this: You are waiting near the ticket booth at the meadowlands arena were you are supposed to meet the guy who holds your tickets for that night. It is your 27th birthday, you have flown in all the way from Germany after spending a night at the Frankfurt airport. It is your first Bruce show in the US and thanks to luck and friendly people you managed to get tickets for that special night. You are tired but happy. Even though your plane was late and your suitcase is gone you arrived here on time and now you are anxious to finally get your hands on those tickets.

This is me on August 1st 1999, moving in circles in the entrance area of the arena, keeping my eyes open, looking for the guy I am supposed to meet here. It is still early and I am thoroughly happy to be here – this will be the best birthday ever! About one hour later I am getting slightly nervous. We were supposed to meet half an hour ago so where is he? I talk to almost every guy who walks in, asking if he is the one – none of them is. Soon people are streaming in and I am still waiting. By 8 pm I am desperate – this is not at all what I dreamed of. I don’t want to believe this is happening, struggling hard to control the anger inside. I can hear music now and I fight back the tears: it’s over! Then, all of a sudden, an angel appears: A nice security guard I have told my story earlier. He tells me he feels sorry for me and he will try to get me inside. He does too and with ‘Trapped’ the show starts for me. I’m high up in the nosebleeds, but I’m there – finally. It is memorable night in many ways and I will never forget.

That somewhat shocking start to my New Jersey adventure could hardly be beaten, but five more shows and nine more days followed. I returned to the Meadowlands for August 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th and 9th and things just got better. Meetings to exchange tickets took place as planned and even the lost ticket issue eventually resolved. I met new people, enjoyed the tailgating and made friends every day. They provided me with joy and laughter, food, drinks and even a sleeping bag for the night I spent in the drop line. Fans from all over the world, one big family. Needless to say the shows were all great. Highlights included ‘For you’, ‘Point Blank’, ‘Be True’, ‘Meeting across the river’ followed by ‘Jungleland’ and a beautiful rendition of “Back in your arms”.

Visiting Asbury Park and Freehold made this trip even more memorable. I felt a little sad walking the Asbury Park boardwalk, seeing the – then closed – Stone Pony, Madam Marie’s booth and the run down Palace. I sure hope that ‘everything that dies someday comes back’. Freehold turned out to be a nice, ordinary small town, but very special for me. What a strange feeling to walk these streets and imagine the same place 30 or 40 years earlier. The voyage down nostalgia lane ended with a few New York City sights important in Bruce history.

A day after the August 9th show I pack my bags and go to Newark airport. Waiting for my flight to be announced, I think back on that day in spring right after the tour was announced and I finally scored some tickets. I felt high for days. A few weeks later the tour started for me in Berlin. What seemed impossible happened, I made it to the front row and was simply blown away. After a night in a tent and another great show the next day there was no turning back. I followed Bruce and the E Street Band through Germany and into the Netherlands. In Leipzig I had a chance to meet them at their hotel. Everyone was in a good mood and all, except Max patiently signed autographs and took some time to chat with the fans. More great shows followed and pretty soon I was on that plane to New Jersey.

The flight is called: everything has come full circle and I have to leave. Getting on the plane I remember all those people who made this trip possible: Anyone who sold me spare tickets, helped me to get a better spot in the drop line, shared their food and part of their lives with me and gave me a helping hand. I want to thank all of you from the bottom of my heart. You people know who you are. Last but not least a big thanks to Bruce and the band for one enjoyable ride. It will be hard to get my feet back on the ground, but I will cherish these memories for years to come! Am I crazy? Sure! Would I do it again! Most certainly! With this in mind I am ready for take off ‘and it was bye bye New Jersey, we were air borne!’

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