five reasons why you owe it to yourself to see bruce springsteen live;

The tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s show at Hampden Park in Glasgow have almost all been dispatched to their lucky owners – half my Facebook feed, if the pictures are to be believed, as well as three that arrived at my house last week for Stringer and myself and Cassy. It’ll be Cassy’s first time seeing the mighty E-Street Band to mine and Stringer’s fifth and I can’t wait to share it with her, even if we’ve added another 20 minutes to the long walk home since his last visit to Scotland’s national stadium.

Now it’s true that I carry a torch for Mr Springsteen – there’s even a mention of him in my Twitter bio, which is no small commitment given that’s 11 of the 160 characters I get in which to define myself over there – but I firmly believe that every man, woman and child on this planet owes it to themselves to see the mighty E-Street Band live at least once in their lifetimes. Obviously that comes with a very heavy caveat – we were £85 each this time around, and not everybody is blessed enough to be able to budget that much for a Wednesday night out. But if live music is how you spend your leisure time, then Springsteen belongs on your bucket list.

Chill Home Insurance is giving away a pair of tickets for Springsteen’s sold out show at Croke Park, Dublin this week – it’s on 27th May, so a few days before the band touch down in Glasgow. I have a particular soft soft for Dublin as it’s the first place Stringer and I ever saw Springsteen live – the tickets to his July 2009 show at the RDS Arena went on sale long before the Glasgow date was announced, so I threw caution to the wind and put a pair on my credit card. Of course, the Glasgow date emerged soon after – so our first Springsteen experience was actually a pair of shows in two days, and one that took in every country of the United Kingdom as we tried to make travel as cheap as possible. I’m the Catholic girl who took the first ferry from Stranraer to Belfast on 12th July, and lived to tell the tale.

Bruce Springsteen live - half an hour before our first Springsteen show

Half an hour before our first ever Springsteen show, Dublin, July 2009

Giveaway duly promoted – and yes, it’s open to UK residents before you start – here are five reasons why you should do everything in your power to see the E-Street Band on this tour.

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1. NONE OF US ARE GETTING ANY YOUNGER – LEAST OF ALL BRUCE…
Sorry to start off on the bummest of bum notes, but Springsteen turns 67 this year – that’s 10 years older than Prince was when he died a couple of weeks ago, and only two years younger than David Bowie was. When that 2009 Glasgow date was announced, we told ourselves we couldn’t justify the expense of two shows in the same run – and really, we couldn’t – until my then-assistant Danny (who used to call me The Boss – still does in fact, even though we haven’t worked together in seven years) pointed out how upset I would be watching all of my friends having an amazing time at the local show on social media.

He was right, of course, and that Glasgow show was the best concert I had ever attended, if not the best night of my goddamn life. That was partly because legendary E-Street Band saxophonist Clarence “Big Man” Clemons – yes, the one my cat is named after – was on magnificent form that night, when he’d clearly been feeling the strain at the (still incredible) Dublin show. Clarence, of course, died a couple of years later and we never got to see him play with the band again.

Bruce Springsteen live - pink stetson in Manchester

Bruce Springsteen in a pink stetson thrown onstage from the crowd, Manchester Etihad Stadium, June 2012

2. …BUT HIS IS THE MOST LIFE-AFFIRMING SHOW YOU’LL EVER SEE
The first Springsteen show we saw after Clarence’s death was in Manchester in June 2012, just after I turned 30 (the tickets were a birthday present from my beloved). By this time his nephew, Jake Clemons, was filling in on sax with the assistance of a new brass section, but the Big Man’s ghost loomed large over proceedings – not least towards the end, when they played E-Street Band origin-myth-of-sorts “10th Avenue Freeze Out”. At the line “the Big Man joined the band” they cut the sound, and we roared our appreciation through a minute-long montage on the big screen to Clarence and organist Danny Federici, who died of cancer in 2008.

The tribute now has the status of something of a “bit” in E-Street Band shows – it played out in almost exactly the same way when we saw them in Glasgow again in 2013 – but, for me at least, it has never lost its potency. I’ve lost another couple of friends this year, so if they do the same thing in Glasgow next month and you see my eyes fill up, believe me when I tell you that the tears are real.

Bruce Springsteen live - Bruce and "Little" Steven, Glasgow 2009

Bruce with “Little” Steven van Zandt, Glasgow Hampden Park, July 2009

3. IT’S EASILY THE BEST VALUE CONCERT YOU’LL EVER ATTEND
Yes, I heard your sharp intake of breath when I started talking ticket prices above – but there are few bands that work for their money quite as hard as the E-Street Band. Three-hour shows are standard practice – and I’m sure you’ve heard about their curfew-busting antics at the likes of Hard Rock Calling – and, with something like 16 band members to be paid, not to mention the road crew, if you divvy up the cost your single ticket is hardly enough to go around. To put it in perspective: I paid £25 plus booking fees to watch an hour of David Duchovny pretending to be a rock star last week, and I was barely even entertained. I’ve never gone home from a Springsteen show thinking about the shoes I could have bought instead.

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4. YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET…
As the current run of shows are in support of The Ties That Bind box set and will feature 1980’s The River double album performed in its entirety, there won’t be as much scope for it this time around – but every Springsteen show I’ve seen to date has devoted a fairly substantial portion of the set to audience requests. And I mean requests – fans bring them on handmade signs and banners, which Bruce makes his selection from, so although you’re guaranteed to hear a good chunk of the hits you can look forward to the odd deep cut and surprising selection too…

Bruce Springsteen live - request hour

Bruce holds a hand-made “Incident on 57th Street” banner up to the crowd before playing the song, Glasgow Hampden Park, July 2009

5. …BUT EVEN NON-FANS WILL LOVE IT
We don’t like to talk about this much, but my friend Steve had a ticket to that Glasgow show in 2009 and then couldn’t get the time off work – and it ended up going to my brother. Dom’s pretty set in his ways, music-wise; I wouldn’t call him a Springsteen fan or anything although he likes “Dancing in the Dark” and “Born to Run” and all that, but he still had the time of his life.

Have you seen Springsteen live? If not, have I convinced you?

See you in the pit…

This post is a collaboration with Chill Home Insurance, but all opinions are my own and unbiased.

  • rachelle renée

    You’re right, there’s nothing like live Bruce Springsteen. Growing up between NYC & PHL provided that perk & because of growing up pronouncing ‘stein’ like ‘steen’, my new coworkers definitely know I’m not from around these country parts: “I’m a Philadelphian and you say ‘S-T-E-I-N’ like ‘steen’ as in BRUCE.” They no longer correct me.

    • I’ve always pronounced it that way in a name, and like “stine” when I’m talking about a drinking vessel that (other people) consume beer out of. I’m tempted to change now 😀 x