Hello readers, I’m so sorry for the delay in posting about the Bruce Springsteen concert I went to last weekend! Unfortunately, the memory of my beloved MacBook is completely full (could it be the 10,000 pictures in my iPhoto?), and I was worried it would crash if I tried to upload anything else. This blog post would just not do the concert justice, without some photos though! I asked Dan to give us a short summary of the concert since he is such a big Bruce fan, so here you go…
Back in the early spring, my favorite musician Bruce Springsteen announced not only a new album, but a world tour that included our new home Madrid. At first, I was quite hesitant and somewhat confused about the tour. Just over a year ago, the rock n roll world lost an extremely important figure. How could the E Street Band continue without the Big Man? A body ceases to function when its heart stops pumping, right? Yet, I overcame my doubts and knew that Bruce would find a way to continue on, at the very least, to honor the memory of the late Clarence Clemons.
Obviously, I gave in and bought tickets (read: thanks Teddy!) for Colette, Gabby and Kenny, who were all “Bruce virgins” as I like to call them. How could you pass up an opportunity like Bruce in Madrid? I have been lucky enough to have seen four concerts, although quite different ones (Seeger sessions, solo for Devils & Dust and Wrecking Ball Giants Stadium Tour), before the Madrid show. Therefore, I was very excited to be able to share this experience with my friends.
As the date approached, I assumed we would witness lots of hard rocking music, but I also expected many tears and a feeling of emptiness in the band. However, almost as if the stars aligned perfectly and Clarence’s soul was playing vicariously through the various members of the E Street Band, some new and some extremely familiar, Bruce was absolutely phenomenal and completely exceeded expectations. Jake Clemons, Clarence’s nephew, was elected to fill in his uncle’s shoes on the saxophone, a feat well accomplished, but certainly not easy to fulfill. As well, the crowd was extremely energetic, something that surprised me a lot. Although they were unfamiliar with a handful of the songs, people were singing, dancing and clapping to the beat the whole show. Believe it or not, this is the first time Santiago Bernabeu (Real Madrid’s soccer stadium) has had people on its feet!
We met up at Colette’s apartment a few hours before the show and had some chips and white bean dip accompanied with beer. Then, we proceeded to the wild streets that surround Bernabeu and enjoyed a beer with my co-worker Roger, who lives right by the stadium. Bruce started the show at 9:30 p.m. (on a Sunday night, only in Spain!) with the crowd favorite “Badlands,” to which the 50,000+ in attendance went wild. He then followed with “No Surrender,” “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball” and “Death to My Hometown,” sharing a vintage Bruce song, as well as three songs off of his new album.
What followed next was a moment that was extremely beautiful and sorrowful. Bruce began speaking to the crowd, surprisingly in somewhat broken, clearly rehearsed Spanish, while the band played the soulful rhythm to “My City of Ruins.” He informed us about the significance of the song, which is about the decline and slow destruction of his so-called birthplace, Asbury Park, N.J. He then began singing the song, which was a bit more upbeat than the studio version. Yet, it was very bittersweet as Bruce paused in the middle of the song to famously introduce the E Street Band one by one and then asked us numerous times, “¿Estamos hechando de menos de alguien?,” which means, “Are we missing anybody?” As the tears rolled down my face, I was blown away by this stunning rendition of a song that became famous in the wake of 9/11. At the end of the song, Bruce started asking the crowd, “Can you feel the spirit? Can you feel the spirit? I can feel the spirit. Can you feel it?” This was followed by one of my favorite classics “Spirit of the Night,” which made me immediately wipe the tears from my face and jump for joy. Almost eerily, I certainly felt that there was some sort of spirit in the air.
Bruce continued with “Be True” and then “Jack of All Trades,” where the whole crowd took out their cell phones and lit up the dark night, while Bruce promised revenge on the banking industry that he so very much loathes. Next, we heard the booming “Youngstown,” “Murder Incorporated” and extremely surprising Born to Run song, “She’s the One.” Bruce was then accompanied on stage by Southside Johnny, an old friend/band mate from the Asbury Park days for “Talk to Me.”
We were subsequently treated to Darkness on the Edge of Town outtake (recently released on The Promise) “Spanish Eyes”, played for the very first time live in concert. Then, we listened to “Working on the Highway,” “Shackled & Drawn” and a fan sing-along “Waiting on a Sunny Day,” where Bruce brought a little Spanish boy on stage to barely successfully sing the chorus. Bruce then played the rare “Apollo Medley,” that was filled with outstanding a cappella and dedications to soul music and a portion of “The Way You Do The Things You Do.” Bruce then continued with “The River,” “Because the Night,” “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” “The Rising,” “We Are Alive” and an excellent performance of “Thunder Road.”
Clocking in at about three hours already, one could only expect the encore to be about 20 minutes at most. Yet, what happens when you assume?! As Colette, Ken, Gabby and I could barely stand anymore (meaning our feet hurt, not the music of course!), Bruce delighted us with the new song “Rocky Ground.” What came next was quite possibly the most fantastic succession of songs in Bruce Springsteen history. “Born in the U.S.A.” sent shivers down my spine, as the Spaniards surprisingly screamed along with him. At the end of the song, I whisper to Colette, “Well, that’s a shame, odds are now he won’t play Born to Run…” as I heard that famous, melodic intro to one of the greatest rock songs ever written. What did I say again about assuming? Bruce then pretended to fall asleep on the stage, apparently exhausted, as Little Stevie Van Zant squeezed a sponge full of water all over his face two times to wake him up. Next, Bruce enchanted us with the early Springsteen-era “Hungry Heart,” a song he rarely plays live. We then were thrilled by “Dancing in the Dark,” to which Bruce pulled some fans out of the crowd to come dance on the stage Courtney Cox style.
Lastly, or as Bruce claimed to be “uno más,” was my absolute favorite song in Bruce’s discography, “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.” There is just no other song ever created like it. Detailing the beginning of the E Street Band, this song is filled with a fun, catchy rhythm, as well as a horn section that blasts notes to create a warm, jazzy feeling that makes you want to dance the “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” something Bruce himself still has no idea what it is. Yet, I knew what was coming next. As Bruce proclaims for all the fans in the middle of the song, “Now, here is the important part,” after singing, “When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band,” which is usually followed by a powerful blast on Clarence’s sax. The band stopped playing as images of Bruce and Clarence famously leaning on each other’s backs flashed across the screen. As Bruce claimed in Clarence’s eulogy, the “towering fairy tale figure” was something of mysticism, the permanent resident of the Temple of Soul. Again, the tears started pouring down my face, as I turned to see just about every other person, including my friends, crying as Bruce honored his best friend, sax player and the so-called Big Man, who was “too big to die.” It was a beautiful, emotional dedication as Bruce concluded the song with his classic “booty-shakin, earth-quaking, love-making, record-breaking, legendary E Street Band.” (Read Bruce’s eulogy here) Yet, Bruce still wasn’t over. He just absolutely refused to stop playing last night and for the second time in my life, I was overjoyed to witness “Twist and Shout,” to watch everybody dancing in the crowds as Southside Johnny came back out to assist.
At 63 years old, Bruce Springsteen accompanied by the E Street Band clocked in at just less than 4 hours. According to Backstreets, we were blessed with the LONGEST E STREET BAND CONCERT EVER at 3 hours and 48 minutes. They played 32 songs, spanning 12 studio albums, 3 cover songs, 1 B-side, 1 guest appearance and 3 newly infatuated Bruce fans. The concert exceeded all expectations and will go down in my books as one of the greatest concerts I have ever been to (although I say that after every show, this is certainly applicable in this case). Even though the Big Man was not there physically, he was certainly there spiritually, especially through his nephew who was a great addition to the band and even reminiscently shared center stage with Bruce a couple of times. The stage was certainly missing a particular presence last night, but there was something in that stadium that drove Bruce to the brinks of self-destruction by playing such a lengthy show. The Spaniards and us Americans were flattered to receive such a fabulous gift from easily the best live act to ever do it. One can only imagine that he will be performing until the end of his days, when he will join Clarence in the Temple of Soul for eternity. With some luck, I will hopefully be able to attend another Bruce concert in September in my home state of New Jersey, as long as Teddy’s American Express card still works!
As you can see, we had an absolutely fantastic time; thank you so much, Dan! And thank you so much, Teddy for buying us the tickets:) Hope everyone enjoyed their Fathers’ Day while we were at the concert! More updates soon on this weekend and the heat wave we just embarked on this week! Hasta luego, amores:)