Monday, February 2, 2009

Bruce Springsteen's Last Spectrum Hurrah

News: Bruce Springsteen Plays the Spectrum
So, Did Ya Get Your Tickets?

To be fair, I’ll have to start with a disclosure: Bruce Springsteen had me at hello.

Well, maybe that's not altogether accurate. After all, the Boss had been around for quite awhile before I first saw him at the Spectrum back in the summer of 81. He had already made his initial ripples in my life - after all, what kid growing up in Jersey in the 70's hadn't embraced "Born To Run"? But to be honest, at the time I probably enjoyed the Cape May Diamonds' versions of "For You" and "Spirit In The Night" as much as I did the original. (Heck, I may have not even known they were Springsteen songs!)

But mere ripples became a full deluge at that Spectrum show. And the funny thing is, I wasn’t even supposed to be there. My mom, a banquet manager at a local restaurant, often rubbed elbows with dee jays looking for gigs, and by some miracle one of them gave her four tickets to the Springsteen concert. Being my mom’s first experience with payola, I don’t think it helped the guy much – but it did benefit my brothers, who were already hoping to scalp – er, legally purchase – tickets outside the show when four fell into their laps.

One brother had a date, but the other one didn’t, which is how I ended up going along. The spotlight hit the stage, the opening harmonica notes to “Thunder Road” drifted over the audience, and I was lost in the flood.

I haven’t missed a Springsteen tour since. Heck, if Bruce is in Philly, I’m in Philly, and I try to see him in other venues as well. It’s not just the man, it’s not just the message, it’s not just the crowd or the band or even the music. But there’s something about the combination of all those things that speaks to me in a way nothing ever has before, or since.

So of course when I heard tickets were going on sale today for Bruce at the Spectrum, I had to get some. Through the years, I've done the ticket-getting thing many ways because, unfortunately, we no longer have dee jays clamoring for our approval. I've slept under the tractor trailers outside the Spectrum during the summer of "Born in the USA." I've worn wristbands (and shamelessly dragged my preschool children to such events, to double my odds). I've formed a callous on my index finger from dialing in those days before Ticketmaster was on speed dial.

And, of course, I've purchased tickets online, which is how I scored these particular tickets. I lucked out, I guess, because my brother (the same one who took me to that first concert) called while I was still in the virtual queue and told me he was striking out. So when I was offered four tickets in the furthest corner from the stage, I did what any good Bruce fan would do - I grabbed them.

Bruce is now teetering on 60 (and I'm teetering a decade behind) so who knows how long we can go on this way. One thing is for certain - it will be our last hurrah at the Spectrum, which is scheduled to be razed later this year.

Everything changes, I guess, but for two nights this April, it will be Bruce and me, back in that venue, surrounded by the people who were born to run and have been doing just that for (can it be possible?) 30 years.

And if I could ask for anything more, it would be this: please, Boss, play "Thunder Road."

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