Firstly I need to feel at home, even in a crowd of strangers, to really enjoy myself. Unfortunately I could not really relate to the fans around me, simply because they were no fans.
There were clearly more young people in the audience that the previous nights, which is good, as Bruce has surely made some new fans. The fact is, however, that many of them did not know the music and they did not care. (Of course I was more than willing to share my great knowledge of all things Springsteen with anybody acting vaguely interested. :)) They were there to have a great time and they had just that.
Of course Bruce always delivers and they were surely in for a few surprises. Probably firstly that he is so OLD. Secondly that one can be old AND stunningly sexy. Thirdly just the sheer energy that he exudes. Fourthly the frequent interaction with the audience. And number fifth the length of the show.
In my opinion he had to work much harder to get the crowd engaged than especially on Night Two, where the audience was ready for a party from the very beginning. But of course we know he is not scared of hard work and Schackled and Drawn could have been written by nobody else but him. (By the way, S&D must surely be rated among the most moving performances of the three nights, among other things because of the sheer enthusiasm he puts into the song. A real example of showing and not merely telling.)
My second rather unpleasant realization was that I was still self-conscious about my height, after enjoying two nights without being much bothered about the people behind me. I think this is rather pathetic and certainly my own fault. The second night I found pleasure in offering the shorter lady behind me my son’s (not mine!) place at the railing for the last part of the show and making space for the guy behind me to try to touch Bruce as he came storming by, which added to the feeling of goodwill that makes a Springsteen show arguably the happiest place on earth. I am sorry, but I am not prepared to budge for a much younger guy just crashing into my back and pushing everybody away for a touch of a man whose music he clearly does not know or understand.
So, sadly, I did not experience quite the overwhelming joy I have felt during the first shows. But Bruce can not be accused of lack of trying. Although he must have been tremendously tired, there was no slackening of the pace. I do think he went into the audience and on to the small stage centre back of the pit less than the previous nights and the crowd surfing was a bit shaky at a time, although the crowd (or himself?) managed to turn him around and deliver him feet first this time.
By now everybody knows that there were I think sixteen changes to the set list. One really got the feeling that he is trying to share the maximum number of songs with us. I expected that to some extent, but when he charged into Adam raised a Cain and Something in the night I was quite surprised after starting with We take care of our own, Night (not one of my favourites) and Rosalita (also not one of my favourites, and yes, I know most people would disagree with me), one really got the feeling everything could happen. What happened was that I got another few of my absolute favourites, especially Wrecking Ball, Tougher than the rest (Bruce took great care to emphasise that the sign sad: If you play tougher than the rest, I will give him a blow job, not you). My real treat was the tour premiere of This is my sword, a song I fell for at first hearing. Some fun was added by Stevie clearly reading the lyrics from the teleprompter after being called to front stage center. One cannot help but wonder what he said to Bruce afterwards. 🙂
After listening to The ghost of Tom Joad with Tom Morello on YouTube a year or two ago, I decided it did not like it very much. But the live version I love, as 9 999 other people seemed to do, judging by the applause. Also High Hopes has been growing rather slowly on me, but the live version is just wonderful. To see Rosie coming out live was also great fun, favourite or not favourite. Seven nights to rock and Twist and Shout evoked the memories of my first two shows in the UK, Working on the highway made me sad as always, and Something in the night gave me a feeling of utter desolation, as always.
The one song where he certainly lost the audience, was The Sun City song, as he had done by opening with Free Mandela the previous nights. The ironic fact is just that there were few members of the audience who knew anything about the role those songs played in the struggle history. I am constantly wondering if Bruce and the band are conscious of this irony. Actually I am quite sure he is.
The absence of Patti bothers me.
The young guys shouting for BITUSA during the acoustic Thunder Road at the end of the show bothered me.
The fact that half of the insufficient number of toilets in the ladies were out of order bothered me.
The fact that the lights on the steps at the exit were still down after three nights bothered me.
The guy who kept telling me how pathetic the organization at entrance was bothered me because I thought it was quite good.
The fact that the vendors did so little business before the show bothered me, as did the fact that they could not be there after the show, when everybody needed some sustenance.
The fact that the large T-shirt that I unwisely bought without trying it on was obviously made in China for a Chinese girl bothered me.
The camera center back of the pit bothered me, although I understand why it must be there.
The question if the girl being proposed to during Because the night knew about it beforehand bothered me, because what if she did not really want to marry Tom’s brother? Certainly that was just cynical old me, as everybody else was clearly entranced by that romantic moment.
What did NOT bother me then?
Well, there were quite a few things.
Like the thirty wonderful songs that were played.
Like my new friend from Ireland getting her moment during Dancing in the Dark.
Like the fifteen or so people on stage during Dancing.
Like the way Bruce patiently let each of them hug and/or kiss him before leaving the stage.
Like touching him for the seventh time (Yes, I am a bit embarrassed).
Like being on a total high after the show.
Like being in Jhb now for the last SA show.
Like being with the friend with whom I shared my first ever shows in 2012.
Like the way my husband and son humoured me and accompanied me to the first two shows, being non-fans themselves.
Like the fact that I am physically fine after standing through three shows.
What I like most of all? Just being alive and having Bruce Springsteen’s music in my life.