One week ago, we were THIS CLOSE to The Boss. In Auckland, NZ. It was AWESOME!
Travelling over 7,000 miles from Seattle to NZ to celebrate Thom’s 60th birthday with Bruce, we enjoyed a week on Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland before the big day. On Saturday we boarded the ferry to the mainland, picked up our tickets in Auckland and made our way to Mt. Smart Stadium. Along the way we dropped off a bag at our roadside motel, hastily booked when we discovered the damn ferry didn’t do a late night run to the island and we would no doubt be stranded sleeping on a ferry terminal bench if we didn’t take action. Those that have been to a Bruce Springsteen concert know that he has great energy and can play. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. When we saw Bruce in LA and Seattle last year, he played for four hours straight. Which is awesome if you don’t have a deadline to cross the ocean to your lovely airbnb cottage. Not daring to leave the concert early, we decided to grab a few hours rest at the “no tell motel” before going back to the island the morning after. Wise we are.
For this concert, Bruce had two opening acts which was unusual because he usually works alone with no opener. Arriving just in time to be one of the first 500 in line, we got the coveted pink bracelets and #’s written on our hands. The NZ stadium crew were very organized, walking in 100 fans at a time in order to avoid chaos. We got to know some lovely people while we waited in the shade of the trees outside the gates. Thom was even interviewed for a NZ podcast. While Thom’s sign didn’t get Bruce’s attention, it did solicit lots of comments from the crowd as did his “Icky Trump” protest shirt. My hubby-always ready to discuss politics-is not shy about voicing his opinions. Luckily this crowd was very anti-Trump so many lively discussions ensued when they asked us, “WTF-how did you elect that wanker?”
Finally inside, we were about three rows from the front of the stage. WOWOWOW! As many times as Thom has seen Bruce, this was the closest he would get. Ever. Fitting for a journey as long as ours. When interlopers without #’s on their hands tried to cut in front of us, the friends we made standing around us including a NZ policeman, joined voices in protests and summoned security to move them behind us. One entitled lady thinking she could just cut in front of me was cussed out by Thom and others, with the cop counselling Thom not to touch her to avoid getting kicked out of the concert. Wouldn’t that have been awful? But, properly restrained but still giving her what for, Thom did not get ejected. Standing firm, we “policed” our area and made sure we kept up close and personal with Bruce.
The openings acts, Jet and Marlon Williams, were good but everyone had come to see Bruce and the E Street Band. Finally the 40,000+ fans got him as he strolled out in his trademark checkered shirt and belted out Darlington County. Steve Van Zandt was of course his usual crazy self with his head scarf and floral pants. When Bruce declared it was “ass-shakin time” they turned and let their bums do the talking. Impressive. Interesting, the crowd in the stands were seated and fairly quiet unlike the standing mob on the floor where we were. Bruce eventually ran to the sides and got them engaged but they were definitely more reserved than the US crowds that danced for 4 hours straight last year when we were in LA and Seattle.
Next to us all night was a couple from Italy who had planned their vacation to NZ to see Bruce at Christchurch and Auckland. Dedicated. Another woman also interviewed with Thom for the podcast had taken a 36 hour flight from India. Crazy. The gentleman in front of me helping with crowd control in our group was from Poland. Everyone had stories to tell about Bruce and the impact he and his music had on their lives, making it easy to bond quickly with complete strangers. I will always remember them fondly.
While he sang hit after hit, the moving rendition of “41 Hands” brought tears to my eyes as I saw everyone raising their hands and feeling the heartfelt lyrics so relevant to the tensions we are all feeling today in our world, whether in the US or NZ. The Boss ended his three hour jam with an acoustic version of Thunder Road. Brilliant. The concert of a lifetime.