30 years ago, and still counting.

Exactly 30 years ago I’ve seen my first Bruce show, 1985, Born in the USA tour. It was also he first rock show I ever attended, and what can I say, a good start is half the work!
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I went to the concert with my best friend Bobby Jean, and her parents; we were fourteen years old and had planned for a week to escape the adults and go in the field, but her parents kept a veeery tight leash, plus, to be honest, there was a huge crowd and we were a little bit intimidated.
So we arrived after lunch, take a seat on the upper level, and waited under the sun.
I still remember which t-shirt and jeans I wore, and that they were selling a lot of phoney merchandise outside the stadium, and I spent almost everything I had in cotton strips, wristbands and bandanas, all of them spectacularly tacky and to me pretty wonderful.
I remember the moment when the roadies took Bruce Excalibur out and put it in its place, at that time he did not walk out with the Fender already embraced, he picked it up when entering the stage.
I remember Clarence as tall, beautiful and huge and really the best dressed of the Band (ah ha).
I remember Bruce coming out from the left side, grabbing the Excalibur and raising a fist in the air.
I remember that I thought the red headed woman as a good vocalist.
I remember that at the third song, Out in the street, we were all standing up, and nobody ever sat again for the whole show.
I remember that I was not a great fan of Nebraska at that time (I was fourteen and my fav albums were The River and Born in the USA), but then he played Atlantic City and a whole new world opened in front of me.
I remember a see of lighters on the ballads.
I remember that I had not a clue on what he was playing during Trapped or Because the night or Rockin’all over the world, what a shame!
I remember that during Working on the highway Bobby’s mum was dancing like a crazy, and she never stopped from that moment on.
I remember that Hungy Heart was the second song I’ve ever memorized, and when Bruce offered the mic out to let the crowd sing I was so overwhelmed to think that I was singing with Bruce that I completely forgot the words, standing there with my mouth open not being able to remember a single thing of a song I was singing for about two years now.
I remember the crowd choirs on Glory days.
I remember the hormones going crazy on I’m on fire.
I remember that when the first set ended we took a seat back to back not talking, just too moved to speak.
I remember that when he began the reprise with that nasty Cover me intro we thought for a moment we were ended up to a Madonna show by mistake. And a friend of mine later said to me that at that intro he thought there could be a problem with the sound system and with his friends was trying to understand how to report it to the mixer crowd.
I remember that I was well-prepared on The river, Born in the USA, Darkness and Born to run, I knew a little of Nebraska and that I had bought with my allowance The Wild and Greetings just three days before the show, so I practically knew nothing of those works.
I remember that I did not know the words from Rosalita, and I was very worried and expressed my concerns to a girl seated just next to me and she answered very politely that surely Bruce would not have minded, and that she herself did not know all the songs by heart.
I remember that I had a crush at that time on Gary and when Bruce introduced him I screamed so loud that all my neighbors looked at me.
I remember that Clarence changed himself for the second set, wearing the colors of our national flag. What a man!
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I remember that new guitarist, Nils something, wearing lots of cotton strips, wristbands and bandanas, him too.
I remember that starting Ramrod he shouted: Now… we begin! Oh my.
I remember when he played Can’t help falling in love I was crying so heavily that Bobby’s mother came to give me a handkerchief.
I remember thay were selling anisette popsicles, go figure, and eeew.
I remember a group of boys and girls that at the very end on the field during Twist & Shout began to do the conga, and I still smile when I think of their young faces, so happy.
I remember Bruce jumping on the piano, Bobby and I thinking he was probably going crazy.
I remember that while going out at the end, the stadium speakers announced they were selling at the box office tickets from the next show in a close Country, and we thought with admiration of these superior beings so godlikely cool to be able and brave to go and see no less that ANOTHER Bruce show, abroad even!
I remember that I was really amazed that he had not played The price you pay (ah ah).
I remember me and Bobby in the back seat of her parents’ car on the way back, singing No surrender and swearing we were gonne see him together each and every time he would come back.
I remember going out of the car in my parents’ yard and shouting BABY WE WERE BOOOOORN TO RAAAAAAAN!!! and my dad worried about the neighbours.
I remember that for a whole week after the show I wore one of those cotton strips around the neck, and I really felt too cool to describe.
I remember that show, my first, beautiful, magic show, it will always have a special place in my heart, my dearest and first moment with Bruce.
Do you loooove me? oh yeah.
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I found something I didn’t even know I was looking for, and now I am never letting go.

You know what they say about Bruce, right? That you can’t fully understand him and his music until you see him live. Well, I never really believed that. I mean, I already loved the guy, I felt like I could understand what he was talking about in his songs. What else did I need? Nothing, I thought.
Until, of course, I saw him live.
And, let me tell you, it was nothing like I expected it to be.
It was 2009, and I went prepared. I arrived in front of the stadium the day before, waiting in line for about 30 hours. I met many amazing people. I laughed, I shared stories. It was exciting, and as beautiful as I imagined it to be, and then some. I mean, I consider myself to be a lonely kind of person, so I did not think about making friends. But I did, and it was awesome.
And then the moment arrived, and the concert started.
The funniest thing is, I don’t remember anything about the moment Bruce and the band came up on stage. Like, totally blank.
But there’s moment I remember so clearly it feels like it was yesterday, and it’s the moment he started to sing Drive All Night.
At the time the song didn’t mean much to me. I’ve always thought it was a brilliant song, but that was it. I didn’t feel connected to the lyrics, if you know what I mean. I didn’t even remember the damn song when I heard people talking about it during the queue the day before. That’s the reason why I took a moment to look around me while Bruce was singing the song just a few feet away from me. On my right there was this guy, around 40 years of age, good looking. He was the one who took care of the list and roll calls outside the stadium. What I’ll never forget is his face. He was shouting the damn song, looking like an emotional wreck, smiling and crying at the same time. I think it was the most beautiful thing I saw that night. And that was the moment I felt connected not only to him, but to everyone who was there that night.
And that’s the reason why I can never get tired of going to his shows. It feels like home, I feel like I’m going back to my family. I may be tired, nervous, sad. I may be in pain, but nothing matters. There’s no other place I want to be, no other people I want to be with.
That’s what Bruce Springsteen means to me.
A family. A home.
I found something I didn’t even knew I was looking for, and now I am never letting go.

Bruce Springsteen is America


In 2012 I attended Bruce’s show at Citizen Bank Ballpark, Philadelphia. I barely listened to the new albums, because some bands are just meant to be experienced live.

From the moment Bruce and his crew pulled up in their vans in the baseball stadium and he speaked his first words, “My people!” I was in awe.

The baseball stadium was full, but it felt like we were in his backyard. Bruce has the ability to make a large crowd feel like close friends. And we all were. In the many concerts I’ve been to, the thing I hate most is the crowds. The people sucking face in front of you, the stupid girls jumping up in the air, the guys who growl unwittingly into the air after too many beers. Usually, a concert is the kind of thing that makes me go into survival mode. But the Bruce Springsteen crowd was full of nice people in all shapes, ages and sizes who just wanted to admire and have fun. He showed us not only a good time, but that he could outlast us all.

The Boss is at retirement age, but he’s built. And stylish. And maybe even better looking than he was in previous decades. He and the band played the first few songs with the stadium lights at full blast, and then the stadium darkened for some of his newer work. While he had a lot of fun singing his old songs—hits like “Hungry Heart” and “Badlands”—it was the newer songs that seemed to pull at him emotionally and represent where he is right now. Then there was his little speech on ghosts, the ones he sees everywhere that remind him of who he was, where he was, what’s missing and what still remains.

Bruce Springsteen is poet and preacher, performer and brooder, colonel and lover. He leads that band through the trenches of an almost four-hour concert and doesn’t seem to need to come up for air. He doesn’t even seem to need a bathroom break.

I was tired from standing for two hours, but I don’t think Bruce Springsteen ever wants to stop playing music.

I’m getting all sentimental and idealistic and romantic. I’m thinking things like, Bruce Sprinsteen is America. Bruce Springsteen is my childhood, he’s where I come from, he’s my people.

His voice—filled with equal measure of strength and ache—brings me right back to sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car when I was seven and they sang along to the story about Crazy Janey and her birthday song.

That’s the thing about music. It cuts right to your soul so that when you hear the familiar strings, you’re weightless and timeless, the very person you were when you first heard it. And the artist who brings that to you is a magic-maker.

Not only does Bruce Springsteen seem to represent the very definition of the American man, but he’s a magician whose art is on the cusp of hubris, managing to step back just in time before going over the edge. “Are you hot? Are you having fun? Are you tired? Are you feeling a little uncomfortable? Well, that’s rock-n-roll, baby!”

Shine a light


We all know the story of Bruce’s eureka moment seeing Elvis at The Ed Sullivan’s show, and I think we all had this electrocution revelation in our lives: someone had it bad, others had it soft, someone had it with Bruce, some with other rock bands or singers. But we all had it.

I had mine in 2012, when due to an elaborate sequence of serendipity and Cabala theosophy I found myself possessor of a Bruce Springsteen ticket, upper level of a stadium. But I was alone. Oh my God, alone? in a stadium? No way, I’m staying home. I’ll put on a cd and listen to his music this way, it’s more or less the same. I was really making a number of convincing myself, I really wasn’t a “concert girl” type. I just had seen some Music Festivals, some Town Festivals, and anyway in a company with a number of people equal and/or superior to a football team. So no way I’m goin’alone. Except it is Bruce Springsteen. Live. So I have a Springsteen ticket for one of his shows and I’m brushing him off like this? Ok, ok, I’m going. Alone.

On the ticket it said: Doors open at 2 pm, so I’m all “At 2 pm I HAVE to be there, or I can lose my place”. I stored my backpack with sandwiches, chocolate, water, energy boosters (potential heatstroke risk), an umbrella (potential rain risk), some fusees (just in case), and off on my way to the stadium. The Security let me enter with a smile, probably thinking of me as a silly girl, it’s 2 pm, I have a numbered seat in the stadium, the show will begin at 8 pm… But I don’t mind, and I smile back at them. On my section there was just me and a lady on the far corner, who was prepared for the afternoon wait with two books. I had in the backpack everything for a stranded stay on a deserted island, but I hadn’t thought of books, or magazines, or  even an Ikea catalogue. Nothing. So I spent the remaining SIX hours on the phone, calling people I haven’t spoken to in ages: Oh you get married? You have children? you are divorced??? way to go!!!

I called relatives and old friends and classmates, just like when you are moving in another Country, or leaving for a long journey around the world, and you don’t know when, or even if you’ll be coming back. And if you’ll ever come back, it’s positive that you’ll never be the same.
And, well, in a way that was what happened to me.

The show starts and ends, but that unique post concert feeling just doesn’t fade. We all have been there.

And in the days, and weeks after the concert, inexplicable things begin to occur. Full immersion (bordering on obsessive-compulsive behaviour) on the show bootleg; neurotic locating of other bootlegs, dvds, documentaries, books, and tickets. I need to have other tickets, I really really NEED to see other shows. And if he isn’t touring, or waaay to far for you to be there, you discover that it’s not just Bruce: he is your choice of dope, but anyway the rock’n’roll has hooked you. You want to see other artists, buy other music, live that rock’n’roll feeling till the end. You don’t know exactly how, but you need that music, and you are now a live concert animal. All your income is spent in that drug, if you can’t afford the overnight stay you’ll sleep in a tent, or at the bus station, but you’ll go to that show, one way or another.

In your personal Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the word Concert has replaced Livelihood, a term that has been unarguably at the very base of it for all your 24 years of existence.

And one day you understand it’s not just rock’n’roll. It’s a philosophy, and you don’t choose to embrace it: that flame makes you a prisoner, and it’s a life imprisonment.

So, back to that analogy I made at the beginning, speaking of Bruce when he saw Elvis at The Ed Sullivan’s Show, it’s just to explain that moment in your life when you have the consciousness raising, and for me that moment was Bruce’s show in 2012.

It was like getting ready in your room, one final check in the mirror, then shutting the door and walking out in the sun.