Parajunkee’s View asked APRIL LINDNER about the best concert she’s ever been to…
I’ve been lucky enough (and music-obsessed enough) to see a lot of truly wonderful concerts, from huge arena shows with acts like Paul McCartney and Green Day to shows in gritty little clubs with rockers and folk musicians who deserve to be more famous than they are—people like Jesse Malin, Willie Nile, Jill Sobule, and John Wesley Harding. If I have to pick the musician who puts on the best live shows I’ve ever seen, that’s easy: Bruce Springsteen. But if I have to pick the single best Springsteen show I’ve ever been to—well, that’s a lot harder.
As a singer-songwriter, Springsteen’s got an enormous, varied catalog of songs to draw from, with more hits than could fit into a single show, and countless great songs that didn’t even make it onto his studio albums. Besides that, he shakes up his setlist from night to night, so you never know which of those great songs you’re going to hear. And as a performer, hardly anybody touches Bruce. With the E Street Band—arguably the best and tightest ensemble on the road today–he plays longer and with more gusto than anyone, drawing in the crowd, and putting on epic, adrenaline-fueled shows that run almost four hours long.
There’s absolutely nothing like a Springsteen show, which is why some fans travel huge distances and go into debt to see him multiple times each tour. Compared to those folks, I’m a relative lightweight; I’ve only seen him about fifty times. I’m not sure I can pick just one favorite show, but a few stand out. There was the first time I saw him, in 1980, during The River tour. I was in college, and my friend Eric managed to get scalped tickets; we were sitting in the nosebleed seats, but from there we could see the whole Boston Garden electrified by Bruce. He opened that show with Born to Run, and Eric’s jaw dropped. “Opening a show with your biggest hit? Now that takes guts,” he said. We wound up driving home from that show in a blizzard. At the bottom of a steep hill, Eric’s car slid into telephone pole, and I bruised a rib. Still worth it.
Another, more recent, best concert ever was the last show Bruce ever played at Philly’s legendary Spectrum—an old but legendary wreck of an arena about to be torn down to make way for a parking lot. It was the last night of a four-night stand, with each show better than the one before, and I happened to be near the stage that night. When you’re close enough to the stage to get eye contact with Bruce Springsteen—well, that’s an amazing show by definition. But that was the night Bruce opened the show with “The Price You Pay,” a song he hadn’t played live in thirty years, and one he’d said he would probably never play again. Philly is one of the cities where Bruce first became popular, and he threw the Spectrum a memorable goodbye party that night, playing with even more heart and soul than usual.
Then there was the night Bruce celebrated his 63rd birthday with 60,000 of his closest friends. Last summer, on the third night of a tree-night stand at New Jersey’s Met Life stadium, thunderstorms delayed the show for hours. Those of us concertgoers who didn’t give up and go home waited in the indoor part of the stadium for the storms to pass, and it wasn’t a pretty sight; the sky was menacing and fights even started breaking out among the disgruntled crowd. By the time the storms passed and the rain tapered off to a mere drizzle, it was 10:27. But did Bruce cut the show short? Of course not. At midnight, the crowd spontaneously started singing “Happy Birthday,” and Bruce and the band launched into Wilson Pickett’s “In the Midnight Hour.” Another thing that made that night extra special was that Bruce dedicated the song “Into the Fire,” to Rich Nappi, one of my band of Springsteen-crazed friends, who was killed in April 2012 while fighting a fire. He also played “Meeting Across the River” into “Jungleland”—a rare and very moving one-two punch. The show lasted until almost two a.m., and those who were there knew they’d witnessed history.
April Lindner is the author of two novels, Catherine, a modernization of Wuthering Heights, and Jane, an update of Jane Eyre. She also has published two poetry collections, Skin and This Bed Our Bodies Shaped.
She plays acoustic guitar badly, sees more rock concerts than she’d care to admit, travels whenever she can, cooks Italian food, and lavishes attention on her pets—two Labrador retriever mixes and two excitable guinea pigs.
About the Book:
A forbidden romance. A modern mystery. Wuthering Heights as you’ve never seen it before.
Catherine is tired of struggling musicians befriending her just so they can get a gig at her Dad’s famous Manhattan club, The Underground. Then she meets mysterious Hence, an unbelievably passionate and talented musician on the brink of success. As their relationship grows, both are swept away in a fiery romance. But when their love is tested by a cruel whim of fate, will pride keep them apart?
Chelsea has always believed that her mom died of a sudden illness, until she finds a letter her dad has kept from her for years—a letter from her mom, Catherine, who didn’t die: She disappeared. Driven by unanswered questions, Chelsea sets out to look for her—starting with the return address on the letter: The Underground.
Told in two voices, twenty years apart, Catherine interweaves a timeless forbidden romance with a compelling modern mystery.
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