|Bruce Springsteen Kilkenny 28/07/2013|
Last weekend the beautiful medieval town of Kilkenny played host to the final 2 gigs of Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band's Wrecking Ball Tour. Billed as the 'Wrecking Ball Weekender, it certainly drew huge interest and tickets were announced as sold out within days of release months ago. Being a huge Springsteen fan I could not pass up the opportunity of seeing him a second time on his latest trip to Ireland. The Limerick concert just 12 days previous already had me hooked, so I figured I just had to attend his final date which was on the Sunday. A ticket was sought out and I was on my way early that morning to what would be a wonderfully memorable day.
An early arrival at Nowlan Park secured a good chance of getting a much coveted wristband that would allow access to the pit area close to the stage. Around 3000 of these were made available and my friends and I at first thought our chances were dimmed when we saw that many other people had already gotten through. One steward soundly advised us where to perhaps try a bit harder and low and behold he was correct in his observation. A bunch of a dozen or so revellers were spotted receiving the final round of wristbands and we rushed to get ours before the word spread too fast. A few minutes later we were chilling out with a beer and safe in the knowledge that no matter what, we would now be close to the action near the stage. The light rain that we experienced as we walked down to the venue earlier was beginning to abate, the sun began to shine through. The day was unfolding into a very enjoyable, relaxing experience, everyone seemed to be in jovial mood hanging around the food stalls and bars.
Dublin based band The Delorentos were the opening act of the day, kicking off after 2pm before LAPD and Imelda May, varied choices yet perfect fillers for a long anticipated Springsteen show.
The word from the previous night was that Bruce and the band had performed the entire 'Born In The U.S.A album along with such treats as a duet with Glen Hansard on 'Drive All Night'. My friends and I discussed about what tonight's set list would be. There was an agreement all around that our wish would be to hear the 'Darkness On The Edge Of Town' album in it's entirety, but that's just the thing, you never know what to expect. After all, this was the final night of the European tour, it was going to be special, that was an undeniable certainty.
Speaking of cardboard sign requests, one man finally got his wish with his choice, apparently he had been to several Springsteen concerts never giving up on encouraging Bruce to sing 'Wild Billy's Circus Story'. He kept making the same sign each time crossing off each venue that the song wasn't performed in, but tonight his dream would come through. As the camera panned down to the front row of the crowd and onto this guy, it was clear that he was filled with emotion. This was the only time that this song was played on the Wrecking Ball tour.
A girl holding a banner which read 'I died my hair blue to Irish dance with Bruce' had her Courtney Cox moment realised as she was plucked from the crowd to swing around with the Boss during 'Dancing In The Dark'. A young boy who can't have been more than 10 years old was spotted in the crowd with his parents. His banner read 'Bruce can I play guitar with you?', a simple gesture that anyone among the huge crowd would secretly only dream about. The star struck boy was called up onstage and given an acoustic guitar to strum along with the band. Then the most amazingly kind gesture occurred, Bruce allowed him to keep the guitar to take home. The boy looked astonished as he got down from the stage, holding onto the instrument, one can only imagine that this six string will forever more be a prized possession of the young man and his family.
However a huge honour it must feel to have a request played for you live by Springsteen and the E Street band it must have been extraordinary for Jimmy Iovine, who was apparently backstage tonight. The complete 'Born To Run' album which he helped produce back in 1975 was played in dedication to him once 'a skinny little Italian kid' as Bruce described him back in the day. Again I did not expect to hear this album performed in full after the Limerick concert but I could not have wished for more. 'She's The One', 'Thunder Road' 'Tenth Avenue Freeze Out' were particularly affecting but in fact the whole album was played out from start to finish with such perfection that I would fail to single out one track with preference.
Much of the complete set list was in fact similar to the Limerick show and comparisons could be made, however there was I thought a feeling of a different vibe from this show.
After all, this was the final night of a very long European tour that took in 140 shows, it was heavy with emotion and obviously had drained a lot of energy from everyone involved.
The respect between band members was even more noticeable than ever before, old friends who had stayed together through thick and thin for decades creating, playing and performing were inspiring to watch. At one point Max Weinberg's daughter joined the group onstage to play the accordion, the rumour was also out that many of Bruce and the band's family members were here in Kilkenny for tonight's special finale.
After yet another marathon performance came to a close, clocking in at a few minutes short of 3 and a half hours the E Street Band slowly left the stage one by one. Clearly they were overwhelmed by the reaction in the stadium tonight, the crowd participation, the eagerness to hear the music and the adoration. Each final minute was heavy with emotion, Bruce remained on, he would play one more song this time with just acoustic guitar and harmonica. 'I've been doing this for almost 50 years' he smiled, 'hopefully I will keep going another 50'.....the cheering grew thunderous around Nowlan Park.
The final song of choice was a beautifully raw version of 'This Hard Land', an exhausted Bruce sang out each line with pride in every breath. Stripped to his t-shirt and drenched with sweat, only a few lights above the stage were remaining now. 'Take care of yourselves' he called out as he finished and walked to the back stage area. A light rain was dribbling from the dark sky above and the night air felt warm and still. I would not want to have been anywhere else but here tonight at this show, I felt blessed to have been there.
The Set List.
1.This Little Light 2.My Love Will Not Let You Down 3.Badlands 4.We Take Care Of Our Own 5. Adam Raised A Cain 6.Death To My Hometown 7. American Skin (41 Shots) 8. The Promised Land 9.Wrecking Ball 10. Spirit In The Night 11.The River 12. Wild Billy's Circus Story 13.Man At The Top 14.When You Walk In The Room.
Born To Run
15.Thunder Road 16.Tenth Avenue Freeze Out 17.Night 18.Backstreets 19.Born To Run 20.She's The One 21.Meeting Across The River 22.Jungleland
23.The Rising 24.Land Of Hope And Dreams 25.Born In The U.S.A 26.Bobby Jean 27.Seven Nights To Rock 28.Dancing In The Dark 29.American Land 30.Shout 31.This Little Light Of Mine 32.This Hard Land.