On Thursday night, Bruce Springsteen broke his own record for the longest E Street band show ever played on American soil, at the MetLife Stadium in Jersey. It was endless. Four hours, to be exact. But by the time Nils Lofgren rounded the corner of his multiminute guitar solo in “Because The Night,” it felt a lot longer. At least for me it did. This was my first Bruce concert ever, which I attended as wingwoman for the lifelong Bruce fan I’m marrying. It was great, I’m told! The thing about Springsteen songs is that to me they sound almost note for note the same—specifically, like they are all going to burst into the chorus of “Born to Run,” and yet only one ever does.
Here’s what I do know: This show was long. Somewhere around the saxophone crescendo in “Rosalita,” my vision blurred; my limbs drooped; I lost track of how many hours I had been swaying in the shadow of 50,000 exuberant middle-aged women fist-pumping to the heavens.
Some things that happened over the course of this show:
Early on in the evening, Bruce found an adorable blond child wearing bedazzled ear-protecting headphones in the audience and put her on his shoulder like a tiny queen. She sang the entire chorus to “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” It was so ferociously cute that I couldn’t believe she wasn’t paid for her efforts. “Bruce is great!” I said.
The woman next to me, in a “The Boss” T-shirt, howled and pulled out some of her own hair at the opening chords of “Cadillac Ranch.”
Audience members invited to dance on stage during “Dancing in the Dark” included another child, also inexplicably awake at this witching hour, who ALSO knew all the words. He brandished the guitar Bruce gave him with great panache even though it was the size of three of his torsos.
Then came a stadiumwide dance party to Bruce’s cover of “Shout” during which I mouthed the words like a narcotized zombie. Miraculously, the rest of the audience seemed completely into it, which was touching.
It seemed like the show was over. But then Bruce yelled to the crowd: “You don’t SOUND satisfied.” It was almost midnight and I started to panic. Bruce went on: “You better show me if you’re satisfied.” I shrieked. He ignored me and played “Thunder Road.”
I tried to sneak out at the beginning of “Jersey Girl.” We had just about hit the four-hour mark. “YOU’RE GOING TO MISS THE FIREWORKS,” bellowed the dad-shaped man in front of us. We stayed.
During “Jersey Girl,” a couple got engaged in the audience and Bruce pulled them on stage. The guy gave a teary speech into the microphone that included the words “I love you more than music itself. Hell, I love you more than Bruce!” The lyrics swelled to “I know that some day she’ll wear my ring.” The fireworks went off. I cried.