Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, RDS Arena, Dublin, 17 July 2012
# OF SIGNS MENTIONING CURFEW OR PULLING THE PLUG: 22 (that I could see, anyway)
# OF UNNECESSARY SIGNS: The Irish flag someone wrote “Waiting For A Sunny Day” on
SIGNS TAKEN BUT NOT PLAYED: “The Promise,” written by a fellow from the Netherlands that we all helped get Bruce’s attention for
I probably expected too much from Dublin, and am also probably very, very tired (we have reached an all-time low when I am literally sleeping on the pavement in the middle of the barricades after the 1:30pm check-in) but it was not the transcendent experience I had hoped for here. We queued in the end (after saying we wouldn’t) because I didn’t want to be surrounded by Americans (who are everywhere, and everywhere as loudly as possible, telling Ireland how great they are because they are American! Bruce fans! In Europe!) and because I thought the front in Dublin would be something special. (The front is always special to me, don’t get me wrong.)
We met amazing people in the queue, including a grey-haired gentleman from Cork with the most beautiful Irish lilt who crossed himself while telling me about his visit to the World Trade Center the one time he visited New York City, who was a big fan of bluegrass and country music, who loved Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and treated us like we were their neighbors. We arrive for check-ins and know people now, from Norway and Spain and Italy and Germany and Holland. We trade queue gossip, vitamins, snacks, tissues. It has been a long time since I have done this.
The band was in excellent form and high spirits tonight, coming out in sunglasses against the glare of the still-bright sunlight. (The rain waited until we were waiting on the train platform to get back to the city center to start, thankfully.) Patti was back, making fans around us happy they would get to see “Easy Money.” The opening shtick with the giant electrical switch was classic. (I was saying “Bring back the tree and the bear” by the end I of the night.) I’ve never seen them do “I Fought The Law,” I sang “I’m A Rocker” so loudly the people near us thought I was insane, held my breath as he produced the sign for “My Hometown” until he informed us that “Mr. B.” (as we call him at home) and his associates were not in town. (If we had gotten any member of U2, I think we would have fallen over on the spot. It would have been too much after everything we have already seen this tour.)
“The River” continues to be an astounding moment. It echoes, it howls, the crowd sings this one with feeling each and every time. “Born In The USA” is the one moment guaranteed to get people out of their chairs in the stands, and you remember just how enormous that album was at a time when we had only just coined the term “global jukebox”. “Dancing In The Dark” is too good to hate. The entire encore is just a powerhouse, a steamrolling hit parade.
They are just playing so well. Everything is solid. The only misses tonight were a few vocal flubs (that and the constant nose blowing makes me wonder if he has a cold; Bruce’s voice sounded okay, but perhaps just the tiniest bit tired). But the horns and the singers and the drums and the keyboards, everyone is great, everything is great. The “Murder, Inc.” guitar battle was fabulous. I wrote the word “incendiary” next to “Prove It.” (Just call me William Miller.)
We were on the rail just at the corner of the second runway, Clarence’s side. We had a good number but not a great one, and I wanted a rail more than I wanted center. We had more belligerent drunks try to push their way through than you would imagine, and several of them with their small children in tow. Security were good (but not great), but we also had a local in our immediate vicinity who had been in the queue, and wasted no time telling his countrymen that if they didn’t have a number on their hand, they shouldn’t be up in front.
I am tired of people putting their kids into the pit and then expecting me to move so they can see. (To quote a learned Dutch person of my acquaintance, “Buy a seat.” ) I am tired of people thinking they can push up front with a bad number or no number. But mostly, I just am tired. We left at the start of “American Land,” aiming for the edge of the pit so we could have a jump on the exit and the train back into center city, but the crowd went on forever and we tripped on beer bottles every few inches. We are not queuing tomorrow – there are some mandatory sights left on our list that we cannot leave Dublin without seeing – and I dread what the back of the pit will be like. We may just end up at the soundboard.
Actual show review on Backstreets.com