Chasing Bruce: Seven Reasons Why

Photo by Rhonda Delaune Welch
When you've seen Bruce Springsteen perform over fifty times (most of those in the last decade), people tend to ask you why, often in the gentle, concerned tone reserved for dealing with the delusional. Why spend so much time and money chasing one performer?  Isn't one show pretty much the same as all the others?   

Here's my answer, in seven parts:

1)  Every show is different, with Bruce drawing from his extensive catalog, tossing in new material and rarities among old standbys like Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Badlands, and The Rising.  Miss a night, and you might just miss that one song you've been chasing forever.

photo by Michael Zorn, from

2)  Every show is special.  Of course Bruce is famous for playing concerts that clock in at over three and a half hours--playing longer and with more gusto than musicians a third his age.  He starts with a setlist, then calls audibles, keeping the show fresh by shaking it up at the last minute.  And he takes audience requests, so there's always hope that if you make an eye-catching sign, he just might play your song.

3) But some shows are extra special.  Take last Saturday night's show in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Bruce started with a very rare song, The Iceman, from his multi-disc outtakes album, Tracks.  The rest of the show was sprinkled with covers inspired by audience-made signs--Louie, Louie, Mustang Sally, and Brown-Eyed Girl--and unusual choices from his own material: From Small Things, Light of Day, and My Love Will Not Let You Down--surprise after surprise after surprise.

Photo by Rhonda Delaune Welch
4) A Springsteen show is epic.  The mood ranges from playful frat rock to sexy soul to angry political commentary to high romance to elegy and back again to celebration--with all the shifts in mood carefully orchestrated to bring everyone in the crowd along for the ride.  And sometimes a song you've heard many times before will pierce you straight through the heart for the first time.  For me that song this time around was Racing in the Street.  Saturday night, I heard the lyrics--really heard them in a way I never had before--and was moved to tears.

5)  A Springsteen show is interactive.  Bruce crowd surfs.  He pulls people on stage to dance and play his guitar.  He runs through the crowd, brings children onstage to sing, then hoists them on his shoulders.  Where you sit or stand matters, because if you're really lucky you just might get a kiss, or a hug, or at the very least some serious eye contact.  If you're willing to take part in the grueling pit lottery that determines who gets to stand in front of the stage, you might get to be a part of the show.  But even if you're in the nosebleed seats, Bruce wants you to stand and be counted; he works hard to reach every single soul in the house.  When the lights come up for Born to Run, and every face in the audience becomes visible, it's a powerful moment: so many people soaking up Bruce's energy and giving it back in a huge tidal wave of love.  

Photo by Rhonda Delaune Welch
6) The legendary E Street Band.  Nobody--but nobody--does it better.

7) Every show is a party.  Come to enough of them and you become part of a core of die hards who travel together, who put up out-of-towners, who help each other find tickets, who argue on fan websites about Bruce minutia, who celebrate and mourn together, and who understand there's no situation in life for which one can't find the perfect Springsteen line.  

Saturday night's crowd: photo taken by one of Bruce's roadies


  1. I am getting more and more excited to see him in Hershey. At "bumping 50" I'm finally doing what I want to!!

  2. Yes!! All good reasons. Enjoy the shows, always!

  3. Great blog post April. I certainly feel like your blood brother :-)

  4. I love the man Always have ...Always will


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