When I became a Springsteen fan

When I became a Springsteen fan

I had a job at a concert arena in college. I worked only before and after the concert (sometimes until 6am!), so I was free to watch any of the shows if I wanted. Since the venue seated about 21,000 people, we tended to only get huge acts that were all pretty disappointing. MC Hammer, anyone? I heard Bruce Springsteen was coming, but I had no interest.

The tickets said 8pm on them and he started right on the dot. That never happens. I ignored the concert, sitting in a back room with earplugs in. When I realized it was 11:30 and there was no intermission, I was impressed. You’re lucky to get 2 hours out of most bands. I went to the main floor section, stood in the aisle, and watched the end of the show.

The first thing I noticed is that songs I didn’t particularly like sounded amazing live. He had a ridiculous amount of energy and really, really knew how to perform for a crowd. He looked like he was doing a cardio workout, running and leaping around stage, covered in sweat. 

The venue had a midnight curfew. At a couple minutes before midnight, one of the venue staff came up on stage after one of the songs ended. The crowd was so loud it was hard to hear anything, but he kept holding up two fingers (presumably meaning 2 more minutes) and Springsteen holding up 1 finger (presumably meaning 1 more song). The staff fellow kept shaking his head at him. He kept tapping his ear to hear instructions through his headset, going back to talk to Springsteen, but the debate continued.

In the middle of the discussion, Springsteen jumped into the air and played the first riff of a song (I don’t recall which one) and the crowd went bananas. The staff member walked off stage. Partway through the song the venue lights came on, but they played an extended jam that lasted anywhere from five to ten minutes.

After the song, there was the usual bowing and applause and then people started filing out of the stadium. I moved out of the aisle but kept standing at the back of the main floor section. I had to wait until the stadium was completely empty until I had to start work again. I was already pretty tired.

When about three-quarters of the stadium was empty, the first chords of Glory Days filled up the stadium. The crowd quickly reversed direction, effectively running down to the main floor. Those with no re-entry privileges blasted back into the stadium from the parking lot. The gate attendants shrugged.

With the lights on and with the main floor well above capacity, all the aisles jammed with people, everybody danced and he and his band played. He jogged through the crowd with his crew frantically making sure his microphone cord didn’t decapitate anyone. At one point, the crowd backed off from him a bit and he danced and sang right in front of them. The guy manning the spotlight was still working. He ended the song inside his circle, with fans cheering, including me.

I was then a Bruce Springsteen fan.