Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Arsenal Stadium, London 30 May, 2008 PDF Print E-mail
Gigs - 2008 Gigs
Written by TK   

Arsenal Stadium is famous for a sport revolving around a ball, not an ageing rocker swooning an ageing crowd.  However, it came to pass that the stadium renowned for its raucous crowds filled up with yet another raucous crowd, who had all come to see the “Boss”.

Not their Boss (well maybe but only in their heads), but none other than Bruce Springsteen.  If it feels like the Boss has been circling the world for over three decades, it is probably because he has - at least three decades in fact.

As I cast my eyes down on the crowd from the viewpoint of my stadium seat, I witnessed a sea of people stretching beneath me all the way towards the stage.  The size of the crowd was appropriate for a festival, not a one man band (let's face it, the E Street Band are talented but unfortunately for them it is Springsteen who holds the limelight).  The crowd may have been enormous, but justly so - the Boss offers a lot more than a silly nickname.  It struck me that it takes a certain talent to inspire passion, but the Boss has found the right ingredients.  In fact, people go to great lengths to get close to Springsteen which was demonstrated by the more obsessive fans spending a night camping outside the stadium in order to get prime-seats.  

The Boss is reportedly 58 years old, however he is the antithesis of everything that modern society would have us believe - that in the decades after the age of 50 that it is time to retreat to golf courses and to plan financially and psychologically for retirement.  Springsteen is certainly not acting his age!  And nor should he - he is in better shape than most of my friends who are in their 20's.  He made the crowd exhausted just looking at him, and this reviewer has never seen such enormous energy gracing the stage.  He was playing like a man performing for the first time.  Springsteen is revered for his common touch, and indeed I overheard an audience member saying that he was, “a working class hero - America's own Jimmy Barnes”.  And the crowd loved it - switching between singing-along, to dancing, jumping and smiling at the Boss.
It certainly goes without saying that Springsteen has had some hits in his time.  So many songs were recognisable that I thought he must have been covering other bands.  At one point, I blurted, “I swear this was sung by John Mellancamp”, and was nearly thrown out of the stadium by one of the more hardcore of Springsteen's fans.  Springsteen's most passionate singing was reserved for his classics, including “Dancing in the Dark”, “Born to Run”, “Glory Days”, “Long Walk Home”, “Atlantic City”, “Livin' in the Future” and “Cadillac Ranch”.  I was scared that the stadium was going to collapse during the singing of “Dancing in the Dark”, one of the greatest moments I have ever experienced at a concert.
It is Springsteen's unquenchable vitality and variety that won the audience over, and I feared a couple of the female audience members would faint such was their reaction when Springsteen got intimate with the front sections of the crowd.
Springsteen is a man possessed.  Supreme guitarist, a singer with depth and top song-writer, Springsteen is a man who is living beneath his years and not beyond.  I have seen less spring in a rabbit.  If Springsteen's performance is anything to go by, he should perform live until he hits a retirement home.

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