In this series Fugitive Sounds editor Cameron Howell posts selected stubs from his cache of concert tickets, along with his memories of the shows—a “little exercise” that he says “is as much about memory and explaining memories as it is about music or concerts.” Check back at noon each Thursday for the latest installment.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
John Paul Jones Arena (Charlottesville, VA)
April 30, 2008
I enjoy reminding my daughter that her first live concert was Bruce Springsteen, albeit in utero. In 2008, my wife was barely pregnant with our daughter when Springsteen and the E Street Band came to Charlottesville. We had kept the pregnancy quiet. It was early.
We bought general-admission tickets for the floor of the John Paul Jones Arena, so that we could experience the full revival-style joy of The Boss, among the standing and joyous. We made that purchase unaware that my wife would be pregnant by the date of the show.
My wife stood as long as she could through the early songs of the concert. I walked her to meet friends in a VIP box above the floor when she became tired.
Then I returned to the floor, feeling a bit guilty. I missed my wife during the rest of the show, but this was my first Springsteen concert.
I recorded my Born in the USA LP to cassette and listened to it tirelessly when I was a teenager. And Springsteen’s live 1975-1985 compilation, also on cassette, had been the soundtrack to my nights on the phone with my first girlfriend, while I bristled with resentment for my parents, just as Springsteen did in his songs. A poster of Springsteen, in mid leap, clutching his Fender Esquire with the red and white stripes of America unfurled behind him, was tacked to the wall of my bedroom.
I wanted to hear “Adam Raised a Cain,” and I heard it. “Jungleland” and “Born to Run” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” carried the weight of American myth, despite Clarence Clemons’s fading health. The death of keyboardist Danny Federici was fresh and sad during the show, just a few weeks following his demise.
But Bruce performed like a marathon rocker, like he might never die. He soaked his dark jeans with a soapy sponge from a big bucket, then ran and slid across the stage on his knees.
The Promised Land
Adam Raised a Cain
Prove It All Night
Last to Die
Long Walk Home
Meeting Across the River
Born to Run
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out