Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – Ullevi, Gothenburg; June 27th, 2016
After the first show in Gothenburg I thought I’d lost it. It was such a good show and still, I didn’t really feel the magic, it did not grab me emotionally as Bruce shows used to, it did not make me forget everything else it was “just” a good and enjoyable concert. Yes, I was close to the stage and yes there were times I was fully into it, but there were equally many I was out of it, thought of other things or wanted to complain about the song selection. This show, however, the second one in Gothenburg, completely restored my faith. It grabbed me, it moved me and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. This is what it is supposed to feel like, this is why I have been following Bruce for all these years and this is what I mean when I claim that he is one of the best live performers out there. Thank you Bruce, thank you E Street Band. Turns out, I didn’t lose it at all, it was just a little harder to find this time.
With the arrival of front of stage tickets I thought I was through with queuing, roll calls and too many hours of waiting when suddenly I wanted, needed to be near the front. Thus I went to Ullevi the day before the show and got a number, came back for roll call every four hours, got a break at night and was back in the morning. It was a relaxed, well organized line. Fast forward to show day, 4:30 pm: we were walked into a fenced in area in front of the stadium, got wristbands, waited some more and were finally in. I had planned to go to the right this time, but ended up second row on the left in front of Soozie. Nice spot and nice people around me.
Waiting, chatting, the usual. People jumping up too early, standing from shortly after 6, feet and back hurting. Around ten minutes before 8 I thought to myself “It’d be nice to go the toilet now” and remembered one guy actually doing that the other night. He made it back to his spot before show start. I didn’t dare though and stayed were I was…
Around 10 past 8 the monitors went on and the full band walked on stage – no solo acoustic start this time then. They launched right into ‘Mary’s Place’, I started jumping and from that moment on, everything else was forgotten. The song is not a particular favorite and I remember times when I never wanted to hear it again, but right then and there it was the perfect opener. “We’re gonna have a party!” Bruce promised and what a great party it turned out to be! 😀 The songs came like punched: ‘Out in the Street’, ‘My Love will not let you down’, ‘No surrender’. There was not a chance to stop dancing or jumping and the people around me did the same. Happy faces everywhere. I screamed ‘No retreat, no surrender’ at the top of my lungs, feeling every word, remembering promises I had made to others and to myself, swearing I’d keep them, be true to myself. Once again, Bruce was providing the soundtrack of my life.
‘Something in the Night’ was the first song that brought tears to my eyes. This song has grown on me in recent years and finally I understand the frustration and the fear. A powerful ‘Candy’s Room’ into ‘She’s the one’ had me screaming and jumping again and the next few songs were just one big party. Strangely enough I did not mind the “Party songs” that night, but loved each ad every one of them. Not even ‘Hungry Heart’ bothered me and that rarely happens. It was so much fun to watch Bruce and the band, to watch people around me freaking out and whenever we looked at each other, we only shared smiles. Rain came and went, we put on our ponchos and took them off again because we got hot. We tried getting closer as Bruce walked past us, watched on the screen when he was far away, having the time of our lives.
The first highlight was ‘Independence Day’ which brought one of the rare stories this tour. Bruce does not talk much this time around, just plays songs, but for this song he did, explaining how it is a young man’s song, that he wrote it when he was 25, “and age where you discover the humanity of your parents and realize that they might have had hopes and dreams too, not all of which came true” and how at that age all you see is the compromises they made while you are still too young to understand the blessing compromise can bring. It was a beautiful, heartfelt speech and a beautiful rendition of the song. Tears, again.
Bruce collected signs and, as it turned out later, might have noticed many more. Jole Blown was his first pick, one song I have never heard him play. A good choice, but the next one made me even happier. Only recently I had re-discovered ‘The Price you pay’ and was over the moon to have him play the song. Heartbreakingly beautiful! ‘The River’ had everyone singing the lines Bruce gave us, making me smile. ‘Racing in the Street’ was brilliant and I absolutely loved ‘Lucky Town’ too. Already this setlist was better than any I had heard on this tour so far. I screamed along to ‘the Promised Land’, briefly wondering how long my voice might last. and partied to ‘I’m a Rocker’. Took a break to breathe for a while, then jumped and danced once again only to slow down for ‘I’m on Fire’. The song and the lights were beautiful.
When they started playing ‘Tougher than the Rest’ the Norwegian lady in front of looked so happy I wanted to hug her. Everyone gave her big smiles, thumbs ups and the like, because this one had been her wish. The rendition was amazing too with Patti and Bruce singing together., followed by a stunning version of ‘Because the Night’. ‘The Rising’ and ‘Badlands’ ended the main set and had me screaming again, the world around me forgotten. I#d been dreading ‘Waiting on a sunny day’ and another badly singing kid, but it never happened – they just did not play the song. 😀
The encores started with ‘Jungleland’ – the stadium was lit up by a gazillion mobile phone lights and I let the tears flow freely. This song never ceases to amaze me, epic is the only word to describe it and hearing, feeling thousands of people sing and scream “Down in Jungleland” gives me the chills. When the song was over, the English woman next to me and I looked at each other, smiled at seeing we were both crying and hugged spontaneously. Nothing to say, nothing else to do. ‘Born in the USA’ was a bit of a harsh break, but helped me gather my wits and for ‘Born to run’ I mustered the last bit of energy to jump and sing again.
A fun ‘Ramrod’ chased away all the sadness and had me partying again. I didn’t think I had any more of that in my, but my tired feet and back still allowed me to jump and dance. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ had so many funny moments. One guy asked to dance with Patti, kissed Bruce when he was called to the stage and completely freaked out once he was up there. I hope someone filmed this, because he was going wild. 😀 Unfortunately Bruce picked a little girl s his dance partner. She seemed confused and walked up the stage steps, like a zombie. The look on his face when when walked right past him was priceless, but I did feel sorry for the girl. She was clearly uncomfortable and didn’t understand what was happening to her. I really don’t get why parents put their young kids through this and why Bruce rewards it with pulling kids on stage. Most of them are way too young to enjoy a three+ hour concert, much less all the waiting before.
I feel I have talked too little about the band, not doing them justice. All I remember is how much fun they were having, how they played and sang their hearts out, the smiles on their faces. Jake, Steve, Nils and Patti all walked on to one of the platforms at one point or another, performing from there, Garry sang, Max drummed like crazy and Roy played the piano like a madman. Most of the time my eyes, like everyone’s, were on Bruce, but without the E Street Band to back him, building the foundation his performance rests upon, he would not be the live performer he is. For those who have not understood that, it all becomes clear with ‘Tenth Avenue freeze-out’. To drive the melancholia away, ‘Shout’ gave us the last chance to dance and sing along. It was a great way to end the show and send the band off stage. Legendary indeed!
Like all the other times, Bruce remained and I wondered if he’d play ‘For you’ this time. When the song started I could not believe my ears: ‘This hard Land’ – I’d seen the request signs, but given up hope to hear it when the main set ended. What a wonderful surprise. It perfectly summed up the night “Stay hard, stay hungry, stay alive if you can…” – there could not have been any better song to end the night. when it was over I wanted to hug the world. Yes! This is what a Springsteen show should be like! This is what I wanted and waited for and feared I might never find again! I felt so relieved and so happy I thought my heart would burst with love. Almost 30 years of being a fan, 20 years of concerts and still Bruce and the Band can do this to me. I felt alive and that was all that mattered.
Afterwards I met my friend H. whom I had not seen in 4 years. Such a happy reunion. We did not have all that much time to catch up, but it was just great seeing each other again, hugging and knowing we had witnessed something great. It does not get any better than this!
MARY’S PLACE (tour premiere)
Out In The Street
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Something In The Night
She’s The One
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
JOLE BLON (tour premiere)
The Price You Pay
Racing In The Street
LUCKY TOWN (tour premiere)
The Promised Land
I’m A Rocker
Working On The Highway
I’m On Fire
Tougher Than The Rest
Because The Night
Born In The U.S.A.
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
This Hard Land (solo acoustic)
The River Tour 2016: 4 shows down, 2 to go, next stop: Rome