Twenty-nine years after I first saw Bruce Springsteen in concert, I took my daughter to see him for the first time last night. We had a great time, singing along with all the songs she knows, impressed by how tight the E Street Band still sounds, wondering how Max Weinberg doesn’t drop dead of exhaustion after three hours of beating the hell out of those drums, and amazed at the energy Bruce still puts into a show at age 60.
One complaint: the concert was scheduled to start at 7:30pm, but the band didn’t hit the stage until an hour later. I know he has a reputation for late starts, but this was ridiculous. His roadies didn’t even bring out the set lists (and tape them to the floor in front of each musician’s position) until 8:10pm. Then, five minutes later, they returned with new set lists to replace the old ones (click here to see the original version of Bruce’s handwritten list and here for the actual list of songs he played). Why? Bruce had the entire day to decide which songs he’d play that night, and since 8 of them were pre-determined by his decision to play his seminal 1975 “Born To Run” album all the way through, it should not have been difficult to flesh out the rest of the list before the scheduled showtime.
Maybe I’m a stickler for this sort of thing because of the business I work in. In radio, we don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m not quite ready yet, so the audience will just have to wait.” When the second hand hits the top of the hour, the show starts and we’re on, no matter what, so we’d better be prepared.
I wouldn’t have minded so much if Bruce had been 10-15 minutes late, to allow the last-minute stragglers to buy their beer and tour t-shirts before getting to their seats, but an hour is way too much. It was even worse for those on the floor, who bought general admission tickets and didn’t even have seats. They were on their feet for a long time before the three-hour-long concert even started — and since most of Bruce’s fan base is around my age, that’s not as easy as it was the first time we heard “Thunder Road.”
Still, it’s always a thrill to see a Springsteen concert, particularly when he throws in songs I’ve never seen him do live before. Last night, during the requests portion of the show (where fans hold up signs with song titles they want him to play), he not only did “Roll Over Beethoven” and the “Devil With The Blue Dress” medley, but also sat down at the piano for a solo version of “For You,” from his very first album. After he brought a couple of fans onstage for “Dancing In The Dark” and then launched into “Rosalita” to close the 27-song show, we walked out very happy into the late St. Louis night.