You can’t break the ties that bind

Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band – Rheinenergiestadium, Cologne; May 27th 2012

For the second time within three days I headed out to see Buce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. This used to be the regular thing for me to do whenever Bruce was on tour, but somehow fewer shows have been enough lately and I felt a bit tired. However I had front of stage tickets again so at least I would not have to line up all day. Since I was coming from another concert in Munich, this would not have been possilble anyway.

It was all nice and relaxed. My friend T. picked me up at the train station, I dropped my things at his place and off we went to the stadium. Said hello to R. outside, met one of T.’s colleagues and walked in, got wristbands right as we entered – painless. What an unpleasant surprise to find out there were two pits: One that held the people ho had front of stage tickesta dn lined up all day and one for the rest of us. There was a third one behind that for regular general admission tickets. Quite a few people were discussing wih teh security peopele, but it was pointless anyway. I decided to let it go and not have the show being spoiled by this. I may not have gotten as close to the stage as I had expected, but with such a larged number of front of stage tickets being sold, I would have been about the same distance from stage in the back of a bigger pit and the additional barrier actually lead to a better view, because it reated some empty space. Also, as long as the people who had paid less for their general admission tix were still behind me, I didn’t care much.

Surprisigly met a former colleague and his wife just as we walked in – what are the odds in a 40 000 people audience? Chatted a bit, met up with J. and decided to stay with him for the show. Saw A., M., B., T. and some more familiar faces, said hello, waved, walked around. shortly before showstart we pickd a spot on the right side, behind the barrier. The view was good, but the sound wasn’t and the people in front of us didn’t seem much interested in the show. Thus we moved to the center and a bit further back during the second song. Here the view was still fine and people where much more into enjoying the concert. Bring it on!

Bruce started with ‘No surrender’ which put a smile on my face right away. I will always love this song! When it was over, he held up two fingers and put them over his heart. ‘Two Hearts’ I said to J. and I was right. 🙂 By the time the double of ‘We take care of our own’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ came along we had finally foun a good spot to stand and a chance to get into the show. I do admit that I prefer being closer, but Bruce’s magic always works if only I allow it to. I concentrated on watching the stage and the people around me, soaking in the positive vibes. ‘The ties that bind’ was a request. J. next to me rolled his eyes at he choice, but it still as fun. (And yes, I agree, there are songs I would have liked better 😉 ).

During ‘Death to my Hometown’ I looked at J. to see his reaction, because it was his first show this tour. We smiled at each other. ‘My city of ruins’ came along and during the band introductions and the schtick about missing Patti, Bruce spotted a red wig in the audience, asked for it to be handed to him and put it on Roy’s head to much laughter. It was one of those great goofy moments.

For ‘Spirit in the Night’ he walked out to the platforms again. This time I was too far away, so I could only see him on the screens. He leaned out to the crowd an on their hands. Excited people patting his back, arms, legs… it looked like everyone was enjoying it. ‘The E Street’ shuffle brought memories of Clarence and Danny, but it didn’t get to me as much the second time around. I still loved it though. It’s a good thing. 🙂

Even though there are many of Bruce’s old songs that I love, I wish he’d play more from the current album. It is great, he should be proud of it and the songs juts sound amazing live – new and fresh and wonderful. ‘Jack of all Trades’ is a favorite among the new, I enjoyed it a lot. The version of ‘Atlantic City’ that followed was weird somehow, but I can’t put my finger on why. I love the song, but it didn’t work for me this way.

I immediately recognized the guitar riff starting the next song as ‘Darlington County’, so it seemed tome for more “party tunes” again, stuff that people can roc out and sing along to, instead of those where one has to listen. Fitting for a stadium and always great fun. Imagine my surprise when Bruce started singing ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ instead. I shared a look of surprise with J. What? It was cool and I’d have loved to hear the entire song, but it changed to ‘Darlington County’ eventually. The next one was a tour premiere: ‘She’s the one’. It rocked the house!

‘Working on the Highway’ kept the good vibes going for a while, until ‘Shackled and drawn’ got a bit more serious again. As in Frankfurt, Bruce spoke German again. then translated to English for those traveling fans that do not speak German. For ‘Waiting on a sunny Day’ he pulled a kid on stage again to sing with him. The boy seemed to have fun, especially when Bruce carried him, but he still seemed a little too young for me to be in the pit (waiting in line all day and then standing for hours must be exhausting for them). Before the show I actually saw even younger kids (4 or 5 years old) in the pit. At least they all wore ear protection, but I still don’t understand why parents take such young children to such long concerts.

Next was something I had not heard before, the much talked about “Apollo Medley”, consisting of ‘The Way you do the things you do’ and ‘634-5789’ – it was amazing. Once again I realized how great this band on stage is. They know how to play and they know how to sing and they all enjoy being there. The new additions to the E Street Band are all wonderful. I love the horn section and he backing singers add much flavor to the songs. 🙂

With the first notes to ‘The River’ the man next to me handed his wife a tissue, knowing she was going to cry – it was such a caring gesture. 🙂 ‘The Rising’ was next and to my surprise; ‘Lonesome Day’ was left out ad ‘Radio Nowhere’ played instead. I had completely forgotten about that song and was happy to see it return – time to jump around and dance! The beautiful ‘We are alive’ and ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ ended the set. I choked up during that last song. To be standing there with my ex hearing what used to be one of our songs, was just a bit too much at that moment. Being friends or not, that hurt.

Time for the encores already, time moved exceptionally fast. J. looked at me in surprise when ‘Born in the USA’ started – it was as unexpected for him as it had been for me two days before. I must say the full band version works well for a stadium. After ‘Born to run’ the unavoidable happened and Bruce downgraded a perfectly fine concert to a less perfect one with ‘Hungry Heart’ – why oh why does he always dig this song out in Germany? Luckily, he let the audience sing the first verse and didn’t repeat it, so it was over quickly. He immediately brightened my mood again with ‘7 Nights to rock’ – perfect for the encores, perfect to have me jumping and dancing again. I instantly forgave him. 😀

For ‘Dancing in the Dark’ he pointed at three woman in the audience who were wearing red wigs and carried a sign “3 Pattis” and motioned for them to join him on stage. He made a big show of posing with them as they hugged him and positioned themselves around him. It was hilarious! A sign “My first Springsteen concert needs American Land” determined the penultimate song of the night. Fine with me :). Last was of course ‘Tenth Avenue freeze-out’ with the tribute to Clarence. Again, a fitting close. Still a little dazed and a little teary eyed, but also with a big smile on my face I left the stadium.

The night ended first with a few drinks at a bar and then in T.’s living room, catting until the early hours. When I finally went to bed, the birds were already singing outside.

2 gigs down, 5 to go. Next stop: Milano

Setlist

No Surrender
Two Hearts
We Take Care Of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
The Ties That Bind (request)
Death to my Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
E Street Shuffle
Jack of all Trades
Atlantic City
Honky Tonk Woman mixed with Darlington County
SHE’S THE ONE
Working on the highway (acoustic Intro)
Shackled & Drawn
Waiting on a sunny Day
Apollo Medley
The River
The Rising
Radio Nowhere
We are alive
Land of Hope and Dreams

Encore
Born in the USA
Born to Run
Hungry Heart
Seven nights to rock
Dancing in the Dark
Sign Request – American Land
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

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