The Boss at Hard Rock Calling today, yay, I have never had the pleasure to see him live and I’m quietly excited about today, yes, so it’s still raining cats and dogs, who cares, we will be …”dancing in the damp”……! Let me warn you now, this is a long read again, so make sure you have time to sit down and enjoy!
I went with Neil today, and we managed to get to Hyde Park by 10am, long queues already and rain, rain, rain! Loads of people have been here since the early morning, some even overnight, there is obviously a hard core Springsteen posse. So we wait and wait and at midday the gates are opened, but what is this? A huge VIP queue, apparently it’s something to do with Vodafone, so many people are let in first, how disappointing for all the people (and us) who have been waiting in the rain for hours. Eventually all the other gates (about 25-20) are opened simultaneously, the race is on :-(, once we have our tickets checked, bag searched and generally checked out I make a run for it. Neil can’t run these days and he really needs a barrier place as it is going to be a long day. As expected all the best spaces have gone, I chose the barrier on stage right, quite far away but better than in the middle of the crowd, or so I thought! How wrong my judgment was will become apparent shortly 😦 We soon realise that we will have a very restricted view, due to a huge mountain of speakers on either side of the stage, a black tent/gazebo type thing and a large moving camera, well saying we are disappointed is putting it mildly. Too late to find another space now, hundreds of people are pouring in and there is no way one person would be able to keep two spaces at the barrier. We just have to make the best of it! After a boring wait there is finally movement on the stage, Rita, Hard Rock Cafe‘s longest serving member of staff and a living legend, announces the first band after giving a little chat about working for the Hard Rock Cafe since 1971 with no intention to quit yet. She tells us the band ‘Hey Monea!‘ are the winners of the Hard Rock Rising global battle of the bands competition, originating  from Canton, Ohio. The barefooted lead singer tells us that it is “a dream come true” and ” can’t pass up a challenge like this”, I didn’t catch the song titles, as the sound quality isn’t amazing were we where, which is a shame as I like the mix of rock/blues/pop. Hopefully this isn’t the last I hear from them, well done guys.
In the gap between setting the stage for the next artist, I can just about make out a huge banner for the ‘Nightwatchman‘, better known as Tom Morello, also associated with ‘Rage Against The Machine’. He is similar to Billy Bragg (better looking) I would say, influenced by Woody Guthrie who’s 100th birthday would have been today, strong political views, I particularly like the quote on his Facebook page: “The Nightwatchman has many powerful enemies. Some of them are war criminals. But he also has powerful friends. Some of them are coyotes”, says it all really. In his song “One Man Revolution” he cleverly changed the lyrics just for us here in London: “…♫♪ on the streets of London Town, they know my name…..♪♫, nice move, make it personal :-). Shame that we just don’t get to see much of him, didn’t plan to be on the barriers to watch the artist on the huge screen hanging above us :-(. Anyway Tom labelled as the Simon & Garfunkel of acoustic Folk/Funk/Punk music….”For every Goliath, there is a David” he utters, he invites the Essex Fire fighters onto stage which are on strike right now. He wants to make sure all 80,000 people present know they are fighting for their rights. The crowd is brilliant, interacting, singing and shouting….amazing. Tom closes his set with ” World Wide Rebel Songs” from his new Album titled the same. He is getting a flood of applause, I really enjoyed his set, I do want to catch him again, he leaves the stage with “take it easy, but take it”
The next band is ‘Lady Antebellum‘, I have heard good things about this band and can’t wait to hear them. What are they doing on that stage? Piling more speakers on the already existing speaker tower? Great, not going to see anything at all now, I’m trying so hard to enjoy this day but it is proving rather difficult. The band arrived on stage, first song….arrgghh, where are my ear plugs? The sound is horrendous, I can’t actually make out what they are singing or what song it could possibly be, this is far too loud :-(. Looking around the crowd is not responding either, shame; they are really making an effort on the stage, using both catwalk paths, which at least gives me a chance to get a glimpse of some of the band members. I can just about understand their banter in between songs, and after mentioning it at least 5 times I really do know now they are from Nashville. Sorry I’m really down on this band, it’s not getting me and I was so excited to see them (well hearing them would have been something), so at this moment of time I’m not able to write a glowing review 😦

John Fogerty is next, the man behind ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival‘, I can’t quite put a handle on him yet, but I have been told I will once he starts playing. Oh no, more speakers, what are they trying to do? Is the view of the stage and band exclusive to the Vodafone people that got in first and took most of the centre front places? Yes I know, I’m sounding bitter, because I am!!!!! One of the members of the E – Street Band is watching from a reserved space from the side of the stage (right in front od us), I can’t imagine his view is much better. Finally John Fogerty is on stage, introduced by none other than Bruce himself, both wearing checked shirts, awesome! His late arrival is soon forgotten when he jumps into action, I do know this guy and I’m loving the set, even the sound is much better, hallelujah. Songs like  ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’, ‘Who will stop the Rain’, ‘Pretty Women’ get’s the attention of the audience back, everyone is joining in with the singing and dancing, the atmosphere has improved a hundred fold. Fogertry is loving his hour on the stage, and he conveys it over to the crowd, brilliant! He takes out his harmonica to perform ‘Keep On Chooglin’but it’s the old CCR’s classics that create the biggest chain reaction, ‘ Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Fortunate Son’ ……..and for the final twist he invites the Boss back onto stage to sing ‘Rockin’ All Over the World’ for his closing song, and yes, it has the desired effect, an euphoric 80,000 strong crowd. Awesome, brilliant, amazing….. 🙂

And now it is time Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Bruce Springsteen is due on stage any minute now. The view is rubbish, people are trying to get closer and closer, it has been a long day waiting and now its here, even the sun has come out to show her face. One thing I don’t quite get is when the security staff start destroying the huge Pepsi balls that get bounced around in the crowd, with some sort of knife, could have been a multi tool I guess. I guess they don’t want them thrown onto the stage (fat chance, stage is too far away!)….The Boss arrives on stage, accompanied by screams and shouts so loud it is deafening, he soaks them in for a minute or two before greeting the many old faces and all the new ones. Starting his show with a slow song “Thunder Road”, it’s amazing how many people here know every word of his songs, the chanting just gets louder and more passionate, this is yet again the point where I wish I could join in, but I’m only familiar with his big hits (oh the shame).  “We’re going to send you home with your ears and legs hurting, your arms aching and your sexual organs stimulated” smirks Springsteen “It’s in the small print of your ticket he declares and it is obvious he means it too, this is also the point when I hear a women behind me giving me the quote of the day “….for 62 years old he still got it..”……I do have to agree 😉 There is so much to be mentioned from his marathon performance, I shall just pick out what stuck in my mind. We were still very upset about the lack of visibility and never managed to see the whole E-street band, still, we did manage to enjoy the concert. Bruce bantered a lot with the crowd, picked out a young boy and asked the security guards to drag him onto stage to sing a song with him as he had noticed the boy sang along to all his songs. What an experience, this young man will forever treasure this moment. Another fan held up a sign asking for a specific song to be played, apparently this guy from Spain has been following the Boss to numerous gigs hoping for a lesser known track “Take ‘Em As They Come” to be played, and yes he was told: “Tonight, my friend, this is your lucky night. You’re going to hear this damn thing”….. When the song “Dancing in the Dark” came on he pulled out a young lady from the audience (sorry, it’s a rubbish photo, but the only one I have) onto the platform and danced with her, how brilliant must she feel to be able to claim dancing with the man himself….lucky lucky girl! Springsteen connected with the audience brilliantly, messing around with an inflatable Mr.Blobbie, running down to the barriers and emerging into the outstretched hands of desperate fans to be touched and mauled. He must have been an absolute nightmare for the security guards, at some point even the whole Brass section comes down the catwalk. He invited Tom Morello back on stage a couple of times to perform “Death to My Hometown”, ” Jack of All Trades” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, John Fogerty  was also invited to join Bruce for “The Promised Land”. 20 odd songs later he goes off just to be back for the encore, “Born in the USA”, ” Born to Run”, nearly 3 hours later, it just couldn’t get any better could it? Let me tell you, it could, Bruce Springsteen invited another guest onto the stage, none other than Paul McCartney, what a great twist and shout….hehehhee, yes that was one of the songs they performed together, “Twist and Shout” and “I Saw Her Standing There” finishing off with the crowd pleaser “La Bamba”……utterly mind blowing! What happened next is a little unbelievable, fireworks went off lighting up the sky beautifully but while Bruce and Paul were talking thanking the crowd they were blissfully unaware that we could not actually hear them, the organisers had pulled the plug….ok, so they went 20 minutes over curfew, it’s Saturday night, would a few more complaints really make such a difference? Everybody knows the Boss has trouble getting off the stage on time….and I for one think that is what makes a performer a real star, after all these years he still loves the stage, singing and giving us value for money and memories that will stay for ever! Anyway, this subject has been through the presses and we all read who said what and why, so no need to repeat it here!
Leaving the grounds was mayhem yet again, tube stations closed, poor lighting…..but hey, it was so worth it! What an amazing night thanks to Bruce and all the other performers! 🙂

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About FrontRowStef

Following months of putting in the necessary hours of research, I have been bullied into writing a blog about my gig experiences! I can’t claim in-depth technical musical knowledge, or a massive CD collection, but, I know what I like and what doesn’t sound good in a live setting. I’m not intending to write great reviews about bands, but more of stuff that happen to me while out and about. Like when a dear friend of mine pointed out that it looks like I’m putting my towel down when I hit the barriers at the front and claim my spot with my jacket draped over the railings. What does he mean? Is it because I’m German? Enough introductions, you will get to know me sooner or later! Oh and apparently I’m going to be referred to as Front Row Stef, simply because that is my rightful place!

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