Springsteen, at last

Did I mention that I saw Bruce Springsteen a couple of weeks ago? No, I suppose not. Believe it or not, it was my first time seeing the Boss. I’ve never really disliked Springsteen, but I just did not get into his music for many years while everyone else was raving about him. I’ve always liked “Born to Run,” but I got sick to death of all the Born in the U.S.A. back when that album was big. And by then, those early E Street Band songs already seemed like a cliché to me. But Springsteen’s sort of worn me down over the years into a more respectful attitude. I like his latest record, Magic, pretty well, especially when it adds a bit of Pet Sounds to that Spector/Springsteen wall of sound.

So, I finally gave in and decided to witness the Springsteen concert experience firsthand (on Oct. 22). Well, as close to “firsthand” as you can get sitting in a nosebleed seat at the back of the United Center. I think this was almost exactly the same spot where I sat a few years ago for concerts by the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. In all three cases, I bought the cheapest ticket I could find just to get the long-distance version of seeing these legends perform in the flesh. It’s a worthwhile way to see a concert if you’ve got no other choice, but it did seem strange thinking how different it is from my usual experience of standing right next to the stage at a place like Schubas or Metro and seeing a musician three or four feet away from me. So here I am sitting in the top deck of the United Center looking the length of a basketball floor and more at this stage way off in the distance. Those little ant-like figures down there? One of those is the Boss! And hey, I can look at him on a video screen if I really want to see. But then… it’ll be like watching it on TV, won’t it? Oh, well…

Not being a true Springsteen aficonado, I don’t feel qualified to say a whole lot about how the concert stacked up other than to say it was a pretty entertaining set, with both new and old songs. When the house lights came on near the end of the concert, and Springsteen took a request from a teenager standing at the front of the general-admission area (“Thunder Road”), it felt about as much like a big, happy party as a big, corporate concert can feel.

SET LIST: Radio Nowhere / Prove It All Night / Lonesome Day / Gypsy Biker / Magic / Reason to Believe / Candy’s Room / She’s the One / Livin’ in the Future / The Promised Land / Tunnel of Love / Spirit in the Night / Darlington County / Devil’s Arcade / The Rising / Last to Die / Long Walk Home / Badlands / ENCORE: Thunder Road / Born to Run / Dancing in the Dark / American Land

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