The feeling experienced after seeing Bruce Springsteen live in concert is like no other on planet Earth.
Everyone has their own take on what it feels like after the concert is over but for me I always come away feeling fortunate, blissful and so charged up I think I can take on everything the world has to throw at me.
The Boss may be 62 years-old but he’s every bit as passionate, hot-blooded, eager and devoted as he was when, as a 26 year-old he wrote ‘Born to Run’.
Wednesday’s concert at the R.D.S. in Dublin was the 13th time I had made the Springsteen pilgrimage and as a devout apostle of the New Jersey born rock legend, I came away with my faith in rock n roll as strong as it had ever been.
Springsteen had played to a sell-out crowd the night before. It was his first concert in Ireland since releasing his album, ‘Wrecking Ball’, in March this year.
On Tuesday evening Springsteen started the concert with the last minute of the Beatles’ ‘Twist and Shout’. It was a proverbial two fingers up to the powers that be who turned the sound off during Springsteen’s on stage performance with Paul McCartney at Hyde Park last weekend. Springsteen and his band of rockers had exceeded their curfew by a few minutes and as a result the power was cut.
True to form, Springsteen fans chose to get in on the act too. One ardent follower held a message aloft; it read, ‘What’s a curfew?’.
Thankfully, the rain stayed away and it made for a better atmosphere.
The gates to the Ballsbridge based venue opened at 5p.m. and from that moment on there was a steady flow of fans clad in Springsteen t-shirts detailing old and more recent tours, star spangled banner bandanas and who could forget, denim.
Wednesday night was not without its famous faces.
Ten minutes before Springsteen and the band took to the stage a motley crew of tattered denim jacket wearing 30-somethings broke into a rendition of ‘Ooh aah Paul McGrath’. Yes, you guessed it, they spotted the former Republic of Ireland defender in the V.I.P. area.
McGrath, (52), is from a generation that would have grown up listening to albums like ‘Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.’, ‘Darkness On the Edge of Town’ and ‘The River’.
If McGrath looked at home at the concert then Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, looked like he was on his holidays. Kenny supped from a pint of Guinness whilst engaging in good natured banter with the band of singing 30 somethings and enjoyed every song like he was some smiley faced teenager. Also spotted in the V.I.P. area were Irish rugby stars Paul O’Connell and Peter Stringer.
The Boss opened the concert with an acoustic version of ‘This Hard Land’. It was typical Springsteen; the voice, the guitar, the harmonica and the crowd - it was if he had never left the stage since the last time he appeared in Ireland in 2009.
After a warm Irish welcome, Springsteen and the E-Street Band proceeded to bang out a mixture of crowd pleasing classics such as ‘No Surrender’, ‘Badlands’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ and less well known songs including ‘Jackson Cage’ and ‘She’s the One’.
Starting at 7.40p.m., the Boss and the new look E-Street Band performed each and every song with precision and skill but perhaps more importantly, everyone looked like they enjoyed playing with one another on stage.
Jake Clemons, the nephew of the late E-Street band saxophonist and close friend of Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, even took to the stage in a wheelchair. Jake had injured his back playing ‘American Land’ the night before but he still was able to make his sax sing.
The concert was littered with little gems of memories that can never be appreciated or experienced at home.
At one stage, Springsteen brought a young boy on stage and let him sing ‘Waiting on a Sunny Day’. Later on, he helped two girls on stage where they danced to ‘Dancing in the Dark’ but the most memorable moment for me was when the Boss unexpectedly took to the piano to play ‘The Promise’.
As the sun disappeared, the sky darkened but Springsteen was only getting warmed up. The big screens at either side of the stage were better seen in the dark and as he performed ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ and ‘Born to Run’ the party atmosphere was well and truly underway.
It was a night of, as Springsteen, said, “hellos and goodbyes”. Fans said hello to new faces like Jake Clemons and were given the chance not only to say goodbye but show their appreciation for Clarence Clemons who died as a result of complications after a stroke last June.
In a fitting tribute to the ‘big man’ Springsteen stopped just after the line ‘they made the change up town, when the big man joined the band’ during ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze Out’. Usually, what would follow next would be a saxophone solo from Clarence but instead Springsteen stopped, the lights went out and on the three big screens appeared some of Clarence’s most memorable moments. It was a wonderful surprise and the entire crowd applauded for over two minutes.
Thirty two songs and two encores later, Springsteen finished off the night with the Irish sounding ‘American Land’.
The band made their way to the edge of the stage and led by Springsteen they took a bow.
Springsteen waited for every band member to leave the stage before he did. He embraced and hugged each one of them and the crowd would have been forgiven for thinking that he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
The huge R.D.S. floodlights shone brightly and the thousands of fans shuffled their way towards the nearest exit. Immediately questions such as ‘well, what did you think?’ and ‘what was your favourite song?’ were asked but I remained silent and left Springsteen feeling like I always did; charged up and ready to take on the world.