A triumphant Saturday night Glasto headline act, and then the surprise offer of a ticket to see Springsteen at Hyde Park on Sunday evening – I wasn’t going to call time on the Boss now, was I?
I last saw Bruce in the less palacios setting of, um, Crystal Palace. Two balmy nights on The Rising tour left me rather tearful, after a rollercoaster ride of all emotions known to a solitary South London blogger.
It’s this ability for the multi-millionaire rock star to engage with everyday people that makes Springsteen such a live draw. Some folk actually believe that Bruce still wears his blue collar when’s he not on tour or making records, holding down a regular day job working at the gasoline station. I needed a fair few shifts myself to fork out for the £50 ticket.
And so following a curfew breaking Vale of Avalon set twenty-four hours previous, the organisers of Hard Rock Calling (urgh) at Hyde Park were taking no chances. The running order for the afternoon was shifted forward half an hour. But I was too busy back at base earning cash to pay for the Bruce ticket to be slightly bothered about missing the bloody awful Dave Matthews Band.
And so cometh the rather early Rock God hour of seven o’clock, cometh the man they call Broooce!!!
The problem for Bruce in 2009 is how to pull off your teenage rock opera meets Phil Spector style production, when you are a 58 year-old man and Phil Spector is banged up inside for murder.
Anyone who caught Bruce camping it up at Glasto will know that the Rock Star game can still be achieved, with only the slightest element of irony. All that sliding around on your knees can’t be good for an old man.
Keeping with the UK theme of opening with a Strummer song, Coma Girl of Glasto was replaced with London Calling. Slightly stodgy, churned out with little understanding of the song. But at least it kept the Absolute Radio punters happy, oblivious to any other songs in The Clash back catalogue.
Wearing a black cotton shirt was a bit of a fashion faux pas for Bruce. The humidity of Hyde Park had the sweat stains visible before we even got to the second verse of London Calling. No one could ever accuse The Boss of being boyband material.
Introductions out of the way, and then we were straight into large swathes off the Born to Run album. Every track seems to start with the legendary: “One! Two! Three! Four!” Every track holds a personal memory for the Hyde Park crowd.
The show itself was incidental. It was the soundtrack to teenage years, growing up, settling down and starting families that most of the crowd had come along to celebrate.
Out of the new material, Outlaw Pete really shouldn’t work. It’s Ernie, The Fastest Milkman in the West played out New Jersey style. But Bruce somehow pulls it off, even down to the removing of his Stetson hat, signalling the downfall of our outlaw hero.
Out In the Street provides the first comedy value of the evening. Bruce likes to do the meet ‘n greet thing down with the crowd at the front. He failed to make it back on to the stage in time for the vocals, collapsing on the stairs in a rare moment of lost showmanship. No worries – the Big Man was on duty to step into the cowboy boots and deliver a killer chorus line.
Large chunks of the set were taken from the autocue of the audience placards. I’ve never seen so many cardboard requests, which to his credit, Bruce collected up and placed them on the stage as a new set list started to take shape. I somehow can’t see Take That being so flexible, and it was a reminder that I really should have brought along my Santa Claus is Coming to Town cue card.
Bits of Born in the USA continued the lifestyle sound checking show, although obviously not *that* song. Regular forays and flirting with the females at the front continued, especially so for Dancing in the Dark. No Courtney Cox style moment, no bandy leg dancing either.
Racing in the Street came straight out of an audience placard cue, and Bruce was rewarded with tears, embraces and even kisses. And that was just the blokes – seriously.
And then some two hours and fifty minutes since London Calling signalled the arrival of Springsteen in central London, the sun finally set and Bruce had disappeared backstage with the rest of the E Street Band.
The Boss (or The Employer as Spinal Tap referenced him on Saturday afternoon) still remains the best live ticket in town. Even if that live ticket is a particularly expensive one and is *shhh* likely to leave you in tears yet again.
Setlist, June 28, 2009, Hard Rock Calling, London, England:
She’s The One
Out In The Street
Working On A Dream
Waiting On A Sunny Day
Racing In The Street
Born To Run
Dancing In The Dark