Deciding to see Bruce on 4th of July in hot Swedish night turned out to be a really good idea. And I was lucky to be there.
I got my ticket to Helsinki show (July 11th) about 5 minutes after they went for sale last winter, but due to problems getting any extra free days from my work I didn't try to get any tickets for other shows, although I would really loved to see E Street Band on perhaps its last tour more than once - and I haven't seen E Street Band ever before, I've seen just one Seeger show this far.
Anyway, the work got eventually so weird that I decided to quit it - and last Monday, few days after being free of that job, Riku posted to our Bruce mailing list that he has one extra Gothenburg ticket for this Friday, any takers? Hey, now I can use my hard earned money for anything I want so Ullevi Stadium, here I come!
Riku warned me that it might be hard to get any hotel rooms in Gothenburg and he was totally right, all sold out. But luckily I managed to find one cheap YMCA hostel quite close to Ullevi, and so I have even some kind of bed waiting there. Flights were easy to book, although all cheap ones had gone long time ago.
Morning flight to Gothenburg was fun. The people I knew were all on the previous flight an hour earlier, but wearing a Bruce t-shirt was a good way to get new friends. I sat and chatted with one all the way to Gothenburg, and took the same bus with another to the city center.
I first decided to se what's happening at Ullevi and right, there was someone with a thick ink pen drawing numbers to people's arms. Swedes seem to use this "first come, first serve" number system to help to decide who goes to the pit and now with number 662 on my right wrist I was quite sure to be one of the lucky ones! After this I checked to the hostel, rested there a little, got some good Indian food and returned to Ullevi afternoon as I was told that to get my place among the pit people I should be present there from 2 pm.
The pit line wasn't that controlled so I could have easily been away for 1-2 hours more and slithered my way to the line (or actually just a mostly unorganized mass of people) later. Close to 5 PM all we numbered folks got our neon orange pit wristbands and were driven to a fenced area, where we waited under burning sun for still one more hour before entering the stadium. I saw several badly sunburned people already in line, and noticed signs of dehydration in myself. Once inside, I bought another bottle of water and got a place about 5-6 meters from front fence little right from Soozie.
While waiting outside we heard the soundcheck. I could't make out all the songs by just the drum beat I heard, and the Swedes around me sometimes singing wrong songs didn't exactly help (okay, I don't know what that is, but it definitely isn't Hungry Heart!), but I easily recognized Radio Nowhere, BITUSA (played just partially) and Drive All Night. I think I heard also Living In The Future, but that's not listed in a soundcheck list I saw so I might have been mistaken.
The show was to start at 9 PM, and during the next 3 hours us pit people looked how Ullevi chairs slowly filled with the capacity crowd of about 60,000, airplanes, helicopters and parachuters passing over every now and then and we got both fierce sunshine and a little rain shower. There's small American flag flying on the top of the stage.
Then, very sharply at 9 pm, there's Max and Garry and the rest, then Clarence and Bruce. After few words in Swedish he counts to four and at the very first chord we know what it is and all the pit goes wild with Born In The USA! This is the way to start a show on 4th of July! Perhaps not in USA, where everybody has seen Bruce hundred times and wishes for rarities, but this is certainly the way to go here where most of the crowd consists of people like me who haven't seen many shows. The GP video at http://gptv.gp.se/player/play/49667 gives a good idea of the crowd reaction, although most of our bellowing can't be heard.
Then into Radio Nowhere, a good pair of songs as this is a real rocker, too. The jumping up and down, waving hands and shouting on a such hot day without drinking enough started to take its toll and I think I saw a first pit dweller faint already during this song. Security was quick to save the fainters from the crowd, and I guess that all survived as I saw no too worried faces on security guys.
Out In The Street follows. Of course I know the lyrics, but this time I really feel that it is my song. Well, whistle wasn't exactly blowing for me and I wasn't loading crates, but now after quitting that job I feel I'm finally really out in the street and walk the way I wanna walk. And in this pit crowd I sure feel at home!
Two Hearts, The Promised Land - can this get any better? Then Spirit In The Night takes Bruce down to the middle catwalk. He is so low behind other people that now I have to follow him from the video screens. He is sitting on the edge of that catwalk, crawling there, now lying there and letting the girls (and some boys too) caress him! Good thing that Patti isn't here seeing this. Pit people tried to rush to catwalks after this and as I didn't have hope to reach them, I instead managed to use that place shifting to get very close to the front rail between two catwalks, just two people between me and that rail. This is so close to the stage, this is really getting better all the time!
Now Bruce has a folded cardboard in his hand, something he has picked from the audience. He and Steve turn and turn it and try to figure out what it is. First there is just E, then E and UE and they keep on wondering this while us audience can see that the other side of the cardboard says B and TR - Be True. Bruce asks the band if they can do this and sure, they can!
Then comes the song I was waiting for and was quite sure to hear tonight. It is 4th of July and Madam Marie has passed away few days ago. Was there even any possibility that Bruce would not have played Sandy? He shortly mentions Danny and then tells about Madam Marie and how fortune tellers make this world a happier place. Roy with accordion, and Charlie takes Roy's stand.
Atlantic City follows, and then fantastic Prove It All Night with Bruce and Steve duelling with their guitars. Then they continue with July 4th theme: Darlington County! Just fun fun fun, oh how I love this! Because The Night follows, and that's really one of the songs I most hoped to hear today. Cadillac Ranch, more rocking fun! This was also at the top of my my wish list.
Living In The Future - ok, I like this and I think it is one of the best Magic songs. Before it Bruce tells about how USA was when he was kid, or at least how he believed it was. That's followed by Mary's Place, which was kind of a religious experience. Bruce would have made a fine preacher, I guess, and he "baptized" the folks around the middle catwalk by spraying water on them.
Bruce had already during the early songs collected a bunch of wish plates, and now he dug out a large cardboard saying Independence Day from that bunch. Ah, beautiful. After it he says something about not playing the next song for some time and starts a harmonica solo. What's this - oh, This Hard Land, the "theme song" of our Finnish Springsteen community mailing list! Say hard, stay hungry, stay ALIVE!
Or more likely never mind the hunger, but thirst. By this time most people in front of the pit were so thirsty that security guys started giving us water, and that most likely saved many people from fainting as folks just refused to leave good places to get something to drink (including me). People happily shared pitchers and bottles of water, each person taking a few sips and then passing the container to next person. After the container was empty, it was promptly returned to security guys, who filled it again and passed to us. So if I start acting weirdly soon, the reason is most likely that I have now shared saliva with several dozen Swedes.
Back to the set list. The Rising was next. Not one of my favourites as a studio version, but this is really something one must to hear in a crowded stadion where everybody is taking part and singing. It was just the right song tonight. Last To Die follows, and then comes Long Walk Home, also one of my favourite Magic songs. And then back to older stuff: Badlands!
Now Bruce and the band took a break, but woo-ooo-ooing hadn't stopped (and Clarence didn't leave) before everybody was back on stage after just few minutes to launch Hungry Heart, and Bruce let again the audience to sing all of the first verse before starting himself. Yes, we can the lyrics over this side of Atlantic too!
What's this next song? I've never heard of this, but from the lyrics I know it has to be Seven Nights To Rock. I had really never heard even the original, and I hadn't listened to the bootlegs this is on. Fun! Born To Run, more fun! Then Rosalita - Mamma Mia! said Bruce as he looked at the cardboard where Rosalita was written. Dancing In The Dark, I must have died and went to heaven! And hey, look at Big Man, he is really dancing with Soozie and Garry and everybody. He doesn't walk too easily, but he certainly moves far better than he did in some few months old YouTube videos.
American Land? So this fun is going to stop now. Kind of good thing, as I really couldn't have taken much more, but one or two songs would still have been okay. Bruce changed the lyrics so that when he listed the people who helped to build American Land, Swedes are mentioned. We all cheer and so I'm too a Swede tonight, that's ok with me. Perhaps he mentions Finns next week? Some of my relatives also helped to built that land, and it would be nice to think that he is paying homage to my late uncle and two grand-aunts too in that song.
After American Land we got virtual fireworks on the big screen behind the band, and then the lights went slowly on and the roadies started to collects instruments and microphones. It was few minutes to midnight now, and so the show had lasted nearly 3 full hours! Gee, that old geezer really is in good condition to do this!
I didn't manage to get a set list, when some of them were handed to the part of audience where I was. Before leaving the stadium I hanged around looking at t-shirts but I was nearly out of Swedish crowns and they didn't accept euros or credit cards. No problem, I can get one in Helsinki next week. It was just one kilometer or so to the hostel, so I walked and was back there quarter to one. The very young staff were gathered around the info desk and made me tell about the show before letting me to go to the dorm to hit the hay. I bet that these kiddos hardly knew any Bruce's songs, and they just wanted to be polite to this old auntie but it was very nice anyway to stay there and tell about it while I was still soaking wet from sweat!
Yes, that's about it. Now I too have seen with my own eyes how Bruce slides on his knees, does some pole dancing with that microphone stand, turns into Old Faitful when bursting water from his mouth and uh, cleans his nose in a way my mom wouldn't appreciate. I saw The Guitar, or at least something which looked just like it? (It turned out that that worn pale Tele he used a lot yesterday was a duplicate). And I have now seen Steve, Max, Garry, Roy, Nils and of course the Big Man! Soozie and Charlie I had seen on that Sessions show earlier, and I sadly had never chance to see Danny. But this is anyway the heartstopping, pants-dropping, houserocking legendary E Street Band!
The set list was just what I wanted to hear, so close to perfect that I couldn't believe it. Well, perhaps I actually fainted after first few songs and have imagined the rest? That Bruce man, he just looked like he loved every moment on the stage and he really seemed to give everything and not save any strength to next song or next show, and still he didn't look tired when he stopped. He was probably less tired than I was after the show, but then he does exercise and he isn't overweight...
Some of my friends asked me to stay for another night in Gothenburg, but I have things to do tomorrow and so decided to get back home already today. I guess they are now at Ullevi waiting for the next show to start in about one and half hours. But it is just a week to Helsinki show, perhaps I get then some of my favourites that were not played yesterday night: River, Thunder Road, Fire, Jackson Cage, Ramrod, Detroit Medley and so on. Hey, we didn't even get Girls In Their Summer Clothes although it was one of my "I'm sure this will be played" songs.
Bruce, I fookin' love ya! See you in Helsinki, and I hope to be in pit again!
22. Hungry Heart
23. Seven Nights To Rock
24. Born To Run
26. Dancing In The Dark
27. American Land
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