It’s not often that you get to witness a living legend in person. Two nights ago, I had the opportunity to cross ‘Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’ off of my concert bucket list, and it was an experience I will never forget.
Bruce arrived to the Palace of Auburn Hills stage to meet an extremely enthusiastic and noisy crowd, and launched immediately into “Meet Me in the City” which had everyone on their feet. He then took it all the way back to 1980, when The River was first released, mentioning that it was an album reflective of growing up, starting a family, and realizing that time becomes more precious as you get older. It’s clear that The River is still an album that he holds dear to his heart even now, nearly 4 decades after its release, and every song was performed with exceptional energy and care from the Boss and the E Street Band. Songs like “The River” and “Point Blank” were haunting and performed with such quiet passion that people were nearly silent. “Cadillac Ranch” had everyone back on their feet, even the people in my row who, excluding myself and a young couple a few seats ahead of me, sat for the majority of the 3 1/2 hour show. “Hungry Heart” saw Bruce travel through the crowd, shaking hands with his fans and then eventually crowd surfing his way back to stage.
After playing The River in its entirety, Springsteen launched into some fan favourites which put the crowd in a frenzy. However, prior to playing “Born In the USA”, he did take a brief moment to remind fans to donate to the Gleaners Community Food Bank, who were on site to accept donations. He then took a moment of seriousness to discuss his recent show cancellation in North Carolina (due to the passing of the ‘bathroom bill’ which prevents trans people from using a bathroom that doesn’t match their biological gender). He also mentioned that a similar bill could be on the table soon in Michigan, and stated “We hope the bill doesn’t pass, ’cause we love playing in Michigan. So keep your heads up.” The mention of North Carolina and the potential of a similar bill being passed in Michigan elicited loud booing from the crowd, who once again cheered as Bruce mentioned his love for the state. The harsh reality is, should Michigan officials vote this bill into existence, the chances are good that Springsteen will boycott the state in protest.
For the final two songs, Bruce and the E Streeters were joined on stage by non other than Bob Seger, who was in attendance during the show. He seemingly popped up out of nowhere; as my attention was on Bruce, who had hopped back into the crowd during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”, I suddenly looked up to see Seger on stage with a tambourine and sharing a mike with Steve Van Zandt. He continued onstage during the final song, “Shout” and joined the band as they bid the crowd farewell.
And let’s just discuss “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” for a moment. While incredibly high energy, the song was accompanied with a video playing on the big screens over the stage, featuring late band members Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons (who passed away in 2008 and 2011 respectively). It was a very touching moment and illicited tears from many of the concert-goers. It’s clear that Bruce and the E Street Band share a bond that is unrivaled.
Looking back on the evening, it was an incredibly overwhelming experience. My friends had gone to see him in Buffalo, NY last month and while I thought they had prepared me for his show, any expectations I had were blown away when Bruce walked onto the stage. For anyone that will be seeing him during the next shows on his tour, I leave you with these suggestions:
- Bring earplugs. The show is LOUD. The crowd will be LOUD. I scoffed when Brianna told me to pack earplugs, but on her advice I did bring them (though I didn’t think I would want them). Approximately 3 songs in, I could feel the buzzing in my left ear and figured I better put them to use. It was probably the best decision I could have made. I still have some slight residual deafness in that left ear, but considering how many shows I’ve seen and then lost my hearing for 3 days afterwards, it’s a big win. Ear plugs will be an essential addition added to my bag when attending shows.
- If you’ve purchased seated tickets, you will likely end up beside someone who sits through the entire show, and/or talks loudly during quieter moments (which you’ll hear even despite the ear plugs). Ignore them.
- If this is your first Bruce Springsteen show, you will probably cry. Likely more than once. It’s ok. No one will notice. You might not even notice until you’re wiping your face.
- Get a tour shirt, even if the merch line is long. You’ll want it.
- Have the best time. Being able to see Bruce Springsteen is an overwhelming, enchanting and wonderful experience that is unrivaled. Live it, and love it.
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