Thursday, February 2, 2017

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Melbourne, Thursday 2 February 2017

I walked out of AAMI Stadium, after what was probably the least enjoyable of my ten Springsteen shows to date reflecting on the neighbours, the luck of the draw and daylight saving.
In the states where it applies daylight saving it is not, of course, a consideration when the concert you are attending is an indoor venue.
Once you are inside your indoor venue, the sun becomes immaterial. Nothing it does can affect your enjoyment of the show.
Here, we were through an opening number that had, according to the BRUCEfanatic app, never been played before, American Land, and into The Ties That Bind when I posted the photograph above on Facebook with the comment: “That sun’s a real bugger.”
And it was.
Even after it had sunk below the level of the scalloped roof on the western side of the stadium it was still an issue.
And there were people up towards the nose bleeds above me who would've had those issues for much longer.
Order of the first things I did when I got back to base was to check the ticket for Saturday night. Thursdays entry point was Gate Two, on the eastern side.
On Saturday, it is Gate Seven, so that should not be an issue.
But that's the luck of the draw.
Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you. What you lose on the roundabout you make up for on the hurdy-gurdy.
It's all part of life’s rich pageant.
And then there are the neighbours.
For a start, it's nice to have them.
Chatting to those around you help to deal with the preshow adrenaline, which, of course, is one of the reasons why I do it.
But you can't talk to them if they're not there.
Admittedly I had arrived early and had taken a look around for the big black self-propelled wheelchair that would have contained one of the leading the identities all the Bruces Place mailing list.
Cheryl has been dubbed the mother of all tramps by another leading participant, and I wanted to catch up with her and see how she was going with her quest for access to the E Street Lounge.
But big black self-propelled wheelchairs were in short supply, so after an initial reconnaissance, I adjourned to the eastern veranda, where the Richmond bar was dispensing $12 plastic cups of Wild Yak.
It was far too early to take a seat in the sun, but there were seats in the shade near the beer booth, so I paid for a Yak and sat down.
When it was empty, I took the plastic cup across to a convenient wheelie bin, which gave a couple of concertgoers a chance to grab seats where I had been sitting. I
 headed back, working on the principle that I had bought the semi-obligatory beer and was reasonably entitled to sit for a while longer before I resumed the reconnaissance.
Apologies ensued, and I ended up on the edge of the bench chatting to a couple from Port Fairy who were about to experience their first Springsteen show.
Interesting folks, who would have been good neighbours when the show started.
So we turned awhile, I completed another circuit of the stadium, and with a continuing absence of wheelchairs of any description, I figured it was time to find my seat.
A dull roar outside indicated that the reformed Jet had hit the stage, so while there was a definite case for locating the seat, it might not have been time to actually occupy it.
But it would be handy to know where it was.
That was the point where I discovered I was actually on the wrong level.
Proceeding upstairs, I made a couple of interesting discoveries.
For a start, my seat was in the very back row of a narrow section, and issues with glare made it impossible to see anything that was happening onstage or any close-up detail on the big screens.
And It was hot.
On the other hand, when I ascended the stairs I had found myself in a large, enclosed and air-conditioned space. With seating, a bar at one end, and another in the middle.
There could well have been a third at the other end of the room, but I did not need to go that far to investigate.
After what may have been five minutes and certainly felt like it that was probably much shorter it was obvious that inside was the place to be.
I shelled out for another Wild Yak, found a seat and sat out the rest of the opening set.
I could even see the big screen is through the window.
While Jeff rocked really righteously, unfamiliarity with the material meant that I found their set fairly a nondescript and rather formulaic exercise.
What's it was done, I waited for awhile on the off chance but the row I could see through the window might start to fill.
Bladder considerations meant I was disinclined to shell out another $12 for a third Wild Yak so eventually I bit the bullet and headed out into the late afternoon sun.
At that point, despite word that Bruce was due on stage around 7:15, my section of the venue what's very sparsely populated.
It took a while to fill.
When neighbours finally arrived, the seats on my left were occupied by a chubby couple all the indeterminate sexuality although one was undoubtedly female.
They arrived bearing copious quantities of food drink, which they consumed slowly throughout Bruce’s set, in between canoodling, air punches, assorted yee-hahs, and frequent stand-up and boogie episodes that usually seemed to end up in canoodle mode.
Not that I was watching, you understand.
But it was the sort of annoying distraction that diverts your attention away from what's going down on stage.
The seat on my right initially remained occupied, and it was well into the set, possibly around No Surrender before I realised that there was someone there.
And while the left side neighbours were extrovertedly distracting, the right side had a black-clad dude who would've stood around six feet five in the old money who seemed to spend the entire two-plus hours dispassionately watching what was going down on stage with his arms folded.
Taking all those factors into consideration, it is probably no wonder that I'd have to describe my concert experience as a sub-optimal although there was nothing wrong with the performance.
One could not help suspecting that the opening Don’t Hang Up was a late inclusion in the setlist since the music stands were there again.
New York City Serenade, complete with the obligatory swing section, worked almost as well as light and shade in between Wrecking Ball and Atlantic City as it did as an opener in Perth and Adelaide, though there was a bus of conversation around me that probably wouldn’t have been there at the start of the show.
A set with plenty of crowd favourites from the Born In The USA album could be described that's relatively unexciting but provided plenty of opportunities for the shapely girl with the attractive derriere to get up and shake it.
Fortunately, she left a clear window between herself and the stage from where I was sitting. The view may not have been as unobstructed from the seat of my right.
Maybe that's why black-clad dude was so obviously unimpressed.

Don't Hang Up (solo acoustic)
American Land
The Ties That Bind
No Surrender
Two Hearts 
The Promised Land
Glory Days
Hungry Heart
Wrecking Ball
New York City Serenade
Atlantic City
Johnny 99 
Murder Incorporated
Death to My Hometown
The River
Mary's Place 
Darlington County
Working on the Highway 
I'm on Fire
Because the Night
The Rising
Land of Hope and Dreams
* * *
Long Walk Home (solo acoustic)
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Twist and Shout

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