Saturday, 27 March 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 12

'But if you don't feel like bein' alone baby,I could walk you all the way home'

So in 2003 we found Springsteen on The Net.

Backstreets and particularly BTX were a revelation.  Here were people who talked about Bruce incessantly. Previous to this I hadn’t considered myself at all obsessive but this constant source of information became compulsive reading. Before long I was checking the message boards every day.

Come to think of it this was my first experience of an on line forum of any sort.  We had been keen to join the internet revolution but once we got on line I am not sure we knew how to make the best use of it.

I remember sitting in front of the computer, staring at the screen, trying to think of something to search for just to see what would happen.

Now if I want to know absolutely anything from what to cook for dinner to where to buy the cheapest camera to what is the second longest river in Africa … I log on.  The other day Mike and I were checking out English grammar for this very blog! - Mike is my proof reader by the way.

Anyway back to BTX. A quick look at ‘The Promised Land’ today reveals chats about the next album release (Darkness box set): Bruce sighting a year ago: Bruce sighting in Asbury Park yesterday: songs Bruce should cover: any number of discussions about individual songs: the ’For the Ladies’ thread and so on and so on - you get the picture.

I didn’t post myself at least not for a very long time - there is far too much scope to offend someone, even with the most innocuous comment.  My now preferred forum of Greasy Lake (which I didn’t join until November 2006) is far less intimidating.

So between the Old Trafford Show in May 2003 and The Albert Hall in May 2005 there was ‘The Essential Bruce Springsteen’ released 4 November 2003.  Obviously I went out straight away to buy the three CD set - some new music for me to listen to as I hadn’t yet discovered boots.

‘Essential’ gave me my first taste of ‘Trapped’.  This along with ‘Chimes of Freedom’ are my two favourite Bruce covers.  I know ‘Lift Me Up’ provokes much debate but I like the falsetto. ‘County Fair’ is really sweet - one of those songs which gives me a picture in my mind’s eye of the scene Bruce is describing. ‘The Wish’ and ‘Sandy’ have the same effect.

Can’t get my head around the acoustic ‘Countin’ On A Miracle’ though - a bit weird. In fact I have trouble with any solo acoustic version of a band song - but more of this when I talk about the ‘Devils and Dust’ tour.

It was during this period probably because of the lack of Bruce stuff we got into a couple of Springsteen related artists - Southside Johnny and Joe Grushecky -. another benefit of Backstreets which is great at championing other Jersey Shore artists.

Southside’s ‘Better Days‘ is one of my favourite albums of all time (the list is growing week by week along with the blog) and Mike really likes Joe Grushecky.

Joe’s ‘American Babylon’ album gave us one of those unexpected surprise moments.  We are giving this album a first listen, deciding whether we like it or not when suddenly it all sounds so familiar!

This is the only YouTube clip I could find but if you listen to the riff played between 1.20 and 1.40 I think you will recognise it - if you are a Springsteen fan anyhow.

Southside’s voice is amazing but he is a little strange. 
Bruce obviously thought so too back in the day…

I love Johnny’s version of ‘All The Way Home’ - for me much better than Bruce’s.

I really like this one as well … The album version also features all three of them.

So I rang The Albert Hall box office to find out when the Devils and Dust tickets went on sale.  There had been some delay if I remember rightly.  I managed to get a date and time - might have been a recorded message.

My very first post on BTX was after that phone call - to announce when the Devils and Dust tickets for the Albert Hall went on sale. I don’t think it caused any controversy!…

Sunday, 21 March 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 11

“I remember how my heart beat when you said’ I love you so’”

We still hadn’t got the hang of finding out about concert tickets so didn’t know about the 2003 stadium tour until it was too late.

There were no tickets left for Old Trafford and in those days we didn’t consider trying anywhere else except our nearest venue.

This disaster prompted me to get onto the internet to find a fan club.  I thought there must be something out there to help me get advance tickets or at the very least advance notice of tickets.

As we all know there is no fan club to be found but there is an unlimited amount of Springsteen stuff out there.  Finding the right fan site for me wasn’t easy but I plumped for Backstreets.

I discovered from the web that I did not need to remember set lists as they were readily available along with endless discussions about how good or bad they were!!  In fact almost anything I wanted to know about Bruce was discussed dissected and argued about - but no tickets for Old Trafford.

I was on ticketmaster every day - the eternal optimist - but Mike who has a more pessimistic streak didn’t think we had any chance of getting tickets.

One Sunday afternoon when Mike had gone for a nap because he had a headache I managed to get two tickets.  I was desperate to wake him up to tell him but managed to resist.

The seats turned out to be at the back - the very back - and on a cricket ground that is a long way.  Well over the boundary rope - even Freddie Flintoff couldn’t hit the ball that far!  The up side was I could stand up without anyone getting annoyed behind me.  The obvious downside was the stage was so far away.  It didn’t bother me though.  We so nearly weren’t there at all - not only because of our ticket problem but because of this

Old Trafford cricket ground is (or was in 2003) a quaint little place - sort of run down in an old fashioned English kind of way as you would expect a cricket ground to be.

It was a blazing hot day and I seem to remember getting into the ground quite early.  We had bottles of water to avoid the dehydration but these were taken off us as we went in.  There were plenty of stand pipes but we had no receptacle.  We had to buy a pint and save the glass (plastic).

We hardly ever see anybody we know when we go out.  Concerts, football matches holidays we don’t see folks we know.  Those stories you hear about people travelling half way round the world and finding their neighbour in the hotel room next to them? - doesn’t happen to us.  (Well it didn’t happen to us but watch this space for a later story).  But this day we actually saw a person we knew.  Not sure if he was actually a Springsteen fan - got the impression he might have been there on a freebie.

This was our first outdoor Bruce concert and because it was such a lovely day we really enjoyed it.  So did Damon Gough judging by this….

I went crazy at the intro to ‘Loose Ends’ although clearly no one around me had a clue what it was.  This was the first time I got a rarity that I love AND appreciated what it was - perhaps it was the first concert where I was more or less fully clued up with everything Bruce had officially recorded.  He didn’t sing anything I didn’t know which was a first!

We were now beginning to feel like real fans having been to four concerts.  Of course we didn’t realise that there were people out there that had been to 104 - and that was only on this tour!

We had no more dates planned so off home to wait for what turned out to be Devils and Dust.

Set List

Born In The USA (acoustic)
The Rising
Lonesome Day
Candy's Room
Prove It All Night
Darkness On The Edge Of Town
Empty Sky
You're Missing
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
Two Hearts
Loose Ends
Worlds Apart
Out In The Street
Mary's Place
Meeting Across The River
Into The Fire
Thunder Road
4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
Bobby Jean
Born To Run
Seven Nights To Rock
My City Of Ruins
Land Of Hope And Dreams
Dancing In The Dark

Friday, 12 March 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 10

"Come on up for the rising"

We had a few beautiful sunny relaxing days in the Cotswolds in August 2002 and played ‘The Rising’ constantly in the car so we were very familiar with all the tracks by the time the tour came around.

I taped live in Barcelona when it was on TV but was determined not to watch it until after we had been to Wembley - didn‘t want to spoil the surprise.  There was an interview with Bruce before the live show, a few comments from the band and some of the video anthology.  I still have my tape although no video recorder to play it on.

We have since bought the DVD of course but worryingly I couldn’t find it when I looked yesterday.  Have we lent it to someone? - don’t think so - we don’t know any Bruce fans who haven’t already got it.

Drove down on the day of the concert in a hurricane - police are advising you not to travel unless absolutely necessary and all that - but of course it was absolutely necessary.  The storm turned out to be very nasty indeed

We stayed in a rather soulless hotel in Luton.  Checked in during the afternoon then on to Wembley Arena.

I had never been to Wembley before - either the arena or stadium.  The stadium was being pulled down at the time.  The twin towers were still there though and I was pleased I got to see that little bit of our heritage before it went forever. 

Mike wanted me to tell you he has been to the stadium three times - once to see Leeds United beat Arsenal in the League Cup final in 1968, in 1972 to see England play Northern Ireland in the old Home International matches and once to see Leeds Rhinos in the Rugby League Challenge Cup final.

I like the new Wembley Stadium - haven’t seen it in the flesh but it looks spectacular in the aerial shots on TV.

I understand the arena has had a bit of a makeover too.  It looked just like a big old warehouse when we were there so an update was probably no bad thing.

We joined a queue but then decided this was the wrong queue and went round the other side of the building to another equally long line.  It was absolutely freezing cold.  Chap behind us had only just bought his ticket from the box office - he had come on the off chance and dropped lucky.  Easy done when you live nearby.

We sat on a raised platform behind the standing area, so a long way back but OK.

Being low down and a long way back isn’t too bad.  High up and near is often a great view.  High up and a long way back and you can be too far away to generate any atmosphere.

You rely on the people around you to get into it.  Sometimes they do sometimes they don’t.  It used to spoil my enjoyment but I don’t let it bother me now.  When you go to more than one show per tour it gives a different perspective.  One day you can be up and buzzing the next you can sit, look, listen and let the music just wash over you.  I have come to accept either as good - hell just being there is great!

This time I was determined I wasn’t going to walk out and forget what he sang.  You know how it is after a show when you are trying to remember the set list.  You get the first two or three songs then can’t remember what came next or in what order.

There I was with my little note book and pen.  I think by this time we had most of the back catalogue but to be honest we hadn’t played the early stuff much so….. I was OK until we got to 'Incident'.

Now, I know, there are people out there who would kill to hear this song live but we didn’t know what it was!  On my set list I had 'Puerto Rican Jane'.

Think we probably had 'Land of Hope and Dreams' down on our list as 'This Train'.  In fact Mike called it 'This Train' for years.

This was the first time we heard someone shout ’I love you Bruce’.  Just before 'Empty Sky' when Bruce asked for quiet this guy shouts out.  The whole of the crowd shushed him - the loudest shhhhhhhhh I have ever heard - and Bruce says 'too much love drives a man insane'

For a long time this was our favourite show.  Certainly we could get into it more because we knew most of the songs.  By this time I had purposely learnt the words to “Born to Run” by playing it over and over again. There were 11 tracks from “The Rising” which were as familiar to us as they were to a lot of the audience.  In fact for the first time we felt like old hands.

We weren't the only ones who loved the show - The Guardian newspaper gave it five stars

Then all too soon it was over and we were heading back up the M1 to Luton and another couple of years wait until the next show - or so we thought.

Set List

The Rising
Lonesome Day
No Surrender
The Fuse
Jackson Cage
Empty Sky
You're Missing
Waitin' On A Sunny Day
Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?
Worlds Apart
She's The One
Mary's Place
Countin' On A Miracle
The River
Incident On 57th Street
Into The Fire
Dancing In The Dark
Born To Run
My City Of Ruins
Born In The USA
Land Of Hope And Dream (AKA This Train!)
Thunder Road

Sunday, 7 March 2010

My Bruce Journey - Part 9

‘One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know and I’ll meet you further on up the road,

Being a bit of a home bird I very much wanted to wake up in my own bed on 01/01/2000.  We went to Mike’s brother’s for New Years Eve which involves a drive so, being the driver, I was stone cold sober at midnight.

Mike on the other hand was three sheets to the wind so when we came home and then went over to the neighbours at around 1.00am he was rather the worst for wear!

I can’t tell a story about Bruce without mentioning 09/11.  On the 8th September 2001 Mike and I had set off on a Mediterranean cruise with his Mum and Dad to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary.  We were sitting on deck in the middle of the Med when the news came through. Mike went to watch the TV for a while but we were really cocooned from it all and didn’t realise the horror of it until we were home.

Knowing how the news is broadcast I expect there was saturation coverage for days but this had all died down by the time we arrived back in the UK.

We did catch, by chance, Bruce singing ‘My City of Ruins’ - turned on the TV and there he was.

I was still buying country albums in the early noughties but not as much as in the past.  Mike bought a couple of Paul Carrack CDs and we went to see him at the Ritz Ballroom at Brighouse - very glamorous.  He was pretty good but we haven’t been back to see him since.

Must have started on a bit of a nostalgia trip around this time because we bought a sixties compilation - Mikes boyhood era - and a David Cassidy CD - one of my teenage heartthrobs.

I also came back to Rod Stewart who I had abandoned a few years previously.  I bought a greatest hits compilation and his ‘Human’ which I really liked. Not really sure about this Great American Songbook stuff though.  Went to see him in June 2002 and he did a kind of half and half show - half a greatest hits and the other half the old American standards with a big band.  Really enjoyed it but it didn’t give me the buzz a Bruce show does.

I tried to get into more up to date stuff. I find I love a lot of the single releases indie rock, metal, the girl groups, boy bands in fact most genre of music but not enough to go for a whole album.  I haven’t trained my brain to download singles only.  You can’t really know if you like a band until you hear more than just the most commercial track chosen for radio airplay.

Bought ‘The Rising’ as soon as it came out - the first time I remember doing this.  We sat down at home, played it through then looked at each other to see what we thought.  Both loved it straight away and our immediate favourite was ’Sunny Day’.  A typical choice for me as I zone in on the pop tunes.  Not so typical for Mike and his favourite track now is ’The Rising’. In fact it’s his favourite album.

Not sure if I have a stand out track now.  Some tracks I love and some I don’t like so much.  Not keen on ‘The Fuse’ - like the lyrics not sure about the tune and dare I say it I think the ‘muffin man’ - sorry ‘The Nothing Man’ is a bit boring.  Again great lyrics - very poignant - but boring tune.  Sorry Bruce. I actually don’t dislike ‘Lets be Friends’ although I know a lot of people hate it.

Further on up the Road is the song I want at my funeral. I love the Seeger Sessions version but Mike doesn’t think the cheering at the end of a live track is appropriate for a funeral so it might be the Johnny Cash version.

We found out about the tour from Channel Four’s gig and tour teletext pages.  I rang the number given and a very helpful chap told me when the tickets were going on sale.  He warned me I would need to get in quick so there we were 9.00am - Mike on his mobile and me on the house phone trying to get through and each getting an engaged tone.

Mike got a ringing tone first and handed his phone to me.  I remember quite clearly sitting on the top step of our stairs waiting to get through.  By 9.20am we were the proud owners of 2 tickets.  I know the casual fanship had started to veer towards obsession by this time because we still have those tickets.

Can’t believe this is nearly 10 years ago now.  Our first two Springsteen concerts seem like a lifetime ago but this Wembley concert seems like yesterday - perhaps because Bruce has been a constant in our lives one way and another ever since then.