“Oooh, how was it?” was the first thing everyone wanted to know after we saw our first Bruce Springsteen show on Thursday night in Milwaukee.
My friend Doug has preached to me about Springsteen since 1978. His email arrived late Friday morning. The subject line: “Bruce review?” His only question: “You gonna follow him around the country now — a groupie?”
“Ah, wouldn’t go that far,” I told Doug. “But gotta see one of the great performers of our time.”
Many of my friends are Springsteen fans, and I understand and appreciate their passion for The Boss. Doug saw Springsteen in St. Paul on Monday night, and were all of us younger, he’d almost certainly have been in Milwaukee with us on Thursday night. I’m delighted for my friend Rob, who again scored a great seat and got a high-five from Springsteen as he left the Bradley Center stage and waded into the crowd during the early part of the show.
But as I’ve written before, I don’t share their passion for Springsteen. I don’t have any Springsteen records, much to our son’s chagrin.
So, to everyone who asked me — a casual Springsteen fan — what I thought about my first Springsteen show, I said …
It was like visiting church.
You’re among friendly people who know all the songs, all the words, all the chants, all the rituals. They know the drill. You, however, know only some of the songs, only some of the words, and have only a vague sense of what to expect.
My friend Doug, ever savvy when it comes to Springsteen, felt for us, saying: “This was not a good starter concert because of ‘The River.’ Limited the greatest hit segments.”
I’d hoped to hear more covers, but so it goes. Having to do all 20 songs on “The River” LP necessarily limits the rest of the show. Were I more savvy, I’d have realized that hearing “Jungleland,” apparently added to the set list on the fly, was a big deal.
No complaints, though. Delighted to have seen what was by all accounts a typical Springsteen show, lasting more than three hours with no breaks. Enjoyed hearing “Because The Night,” long one of Janet’s favorite songs.
Well, one complaint. Who goes to a Springsteen show, then talks throughout the entire thing? The two Illinois couples behind us, that’s who. Just random shit and running commentary all night long, in flatland voices that pierced through the noise. Would you just SHUT UP? You aren’t at home watching TV, folks.
Springsteen in Milwaukee was good. Paul McCartney in Milwaukee was better.
But we’d go see Springsteen again. Next time, though, we’ll go with Doug.
The set list from Milwaukee on March 3, 2016:
“Meet Me in the City,” “The Ties That Bind,” “Sherry Darling,” “Jackson Cage,” “Two Hearts,” “Independence Day,” “Hungry Heart,” “Out in the Street,” “Crush On You,” “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch),” “I Wanna Marry You,” “The River,” “Point Blank,” “Cadillac Ranch,” “I’m a Rocker,” “Fade Away,” “Stolen Car,” “Ramrod,” “The Price You Pay,” “Drive All Night,” “Wreck on the Highway,” “Badlands,” “No Surrender,” “Lonesome Day,” “Because the Night,” “Jungleland,” “The Rising,” “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” “Shout.”