Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Every gig I've Ever Seen #49 Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen. Wembley Stadium. 1985

The day after seeing Jonathan Richman we all trudged up to Wembley to see Broooce. Met at the Glass Blowers Arms in Soho. Dunno why but I remember it. Chris was there with his sister Cath and I think brother Mike. We didn’t have tickets but we thought we’d get them at the door, or cheap off a tout, because it was the third consecutive night so, we reasoned, most people would already have seen him.

It was Bruce’s turn to be Mega that year. Bowie had done it in 1983, Dylan the year before. Live Aid that year revived some careers and people like Simple Minds, U2 and INXS did their stadium shows in the late 80s/early 90s. Product, man. Still we liked Bruce and even yer parents had heard of him. “Born In The USA” had done big box office and yet he was a known anti-Reaganite. It was an irony even then that Born In The USA, the song, was taken up by gung-ho America. “Dude, the chorus. It’s fuckin America, buddy!”

Lines about young men being sent off to fight the yellow man didn’t seem to register. Despite the bombast, Bruce knew which side he was on. And compared to, say, the Stones or Bowie or Dylan he was Karl Marx.

It was a beautiful day and the walk up the Wembley Way was great, thousands of fans smiling, the twin towers getting ever closer. Wembley was as big as it got in those days.

Tried in vain to get tickets. Non on sale and the touts were charging double. We sat on the grass at the back of the stadium. Bruce was doing 3 to 4 hour sets so we listened to the first bit which was all solo acoustic. Then, kinnel, the doors at the back were opening and people were running in! Huge wave of people surging forward, fast. I grabbed Leah’s hand and dragged her along with me. Saw a girl get knocked to the floor, people leaping over her to get into the stadium. Scary.

Suddenly we were in running, laughing onto the terraces at the back of the stadium. Way at the back. If you’ve been to Wembley you’ll know that’s far. The stands were still the concrete steps of old, before Heysel and Hillsborough and seating. There were two TV sets either side of the stage. Well, Jumbo screens but looked like little tellies from where we were. Sound was loud and clear except the place was so big there was a sound delay of a full second. Bruce would be mouthing “huh” or “ergh” or “yeah” into the mic, then snap his head back and then you’d hear “huh” or “ergh” or “yeah” rumbling out of the PA.

 Some of it was magic. “Born To Run”. “Thunder Road”. Cliches, but still good air-guitaring anthems. 70,000 pairs of hands clapping. Bellowed choruses. But it was Broooce, after all, so there were loads of tedious work-outs. Clarence with his sax. Nils Lofgren shredding axe. Boss running from side to side. Every last ounce of pure, honest, rock’n’roll sweat pouring out of him. He was the People’s Rocker. His head’s too big for his stocky little body by the way. By the fourth hour I’d done Bruce it has to be said. Still, a modern Rock Legend, a good show and it was free! Result.

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