So there I was, complaining to Facebook that I was running low on things to write about. Do I weigh in on the Fifty Shades of Grey madness, despite having only read the first fifth of the first book? (I still might; it’s like the Da Vinci Code of BDSM – badly written, but good grief, everyone’s got an opinion). Do I do a vague and generic “Relationships: even when they’re simple, they’re not” post? Which, rest assured, arises out of being agony aunt for a couple of friends recently, rather than my own issues (which, indeed, would fill a book, so perhaps here isn’t the place). A friend suggested a post on superpowers, which would be very brief (I have a lot of geeky friends so we’ve got this particular conversation down to a fine art). The superpower I’d most like to have would be mood control – so being able to rouse a crowd of apathetic people, or calm down an angry mob. Or just defuse awkwardness. The Boy suggested a rant about people who make massive generalisations -we were having a conversation in the pub about the Daily-Mail-reader kind of attitude that can be truly horrifying in its pervasiveness. We all have friends/relatives who are prone to making big, sweeping statements about entire groups of people based on one tiny, barely-significant experience. But, knowing the upshot of that soapbox session would be “God, aren’t people just crap?” there would be some irony there.
But then. As I was sitting in bed on Saturday feeling rather queasy and sorry for myself (am on drugs for a week, and constant nausea seems to be the side-effect. Cheers, biology), my uncle called. “What are you up to today?”
“Oh, kind of busy,” I lied, thinking he was going to rope me into doing something helpful – which, ordinarily, I hasten to add, I wouldn’t mind – just not when the contents of my stomach are churning like a washing machine.
“Well, I have a spare ticket to Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park…”
That changed things. Radically.
“I’m sure whatever I’m doing isn’t that urgent. What time are we leaving?”
Now, I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Bruce fan. There’s a good handful of his songs that I do really love – more recent ones like The Rising, Radio Nowhere, Lonesome Day, and the classics like Born to Run and Dancing in the Dark – but I’m not a go-out-and-get-new-album-on-date-of-release kind of fan. (Actually, it’s more sit-in-and-download-standout-tracks these days, but the point stands.) However, my uncle has been a devoted fan for as long as I can remember, and as I was partly brought up by my grandmother and him, Bruce’s music featured heavily in my early childhood. As a kid, I loved the “Born in the USA” album, and I remember being rather perplexed by the album cover for “The Ghost of Tom Joad” (hey, I was only five or so).
But only a fool would turn down an opportunity to see the Boss live, so I shovelled some dry toast into my face, stuffed a rucksack with lunch and a waterproof, and off we toddled to Hyde Park.
I probably don’t need to tell you it was an amazing show. That for a man of 62, the energy and sheer joy he exudes while onstage puts 85% of other performers to shame. That – and don’t worry, I’m wincing at the phrasing I’m about to employ – the gig was a journey from the harder, angrier, political songs of recent years to the anthems Springsteen is best known for. The turning point came – for me at least – at the twelfth song of the evening, “Because the Night”. You have not lived until you have shouted along to that song as the stage lights turn the rain gold and silver. I also hope never to forget that performance of the afore-mentioned “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, which included a positively orgasmic guitar solo from Tom Morello. The encore included Born in the USA, Glory Days, Born To Run, and Dancing in the Dark – and true to form, Bruce plucked one super-lucky lady from the crowd to dance with him, and then personally lifted her up and put her back where he’d found her. Oh, to be Bruce’s Dancing in the Dark girl…
It wasn’t over yet though, because who should stride onstage but Paul McCartney? And unfortunately this is where my tale (I say tale, it’s more an extended “Ha, I saw Bruce and you didn’t!”) turns a little sour. As has been reported all over the internet today, the plug was pulled at 10.40pm, as Bruce, his band and Sir Paul were storming the hell out of Twist and Shout. They’d passed their curfew by 10 minutes – not half an hour, as most papers/sites are claiming – and so were silenced. It’s not a big deal, and of course it didn’t ruin the evening, nice as it would have been to have heard the band’s goodbyes. But what dawned on me today was that these days, a live music event is one of the last places where you can get thousands of people together who have no intention of causing trouble, are there to just see their act of choice and have a good time, so to pull the plug on that seems to be erring on the side of buzzkill. I know whoever took that decision was merely doing their job and following orders, but it’s just a shame such a spectacular night had to end like that.
Whatever though, I got to sing along to Born To Run as if my life depended on it, so I’m not complaining.
So that was yesterday, and today I’ve been at a family gathering – and all anyone asked me about was my dissertation/Masters course/career ideas. Someone genuinely uttered the words, “So what are your job prospects like?”
I had to stuff an entire egg sandwich into my mouth to stifle the yelp of anguish.
I’m going to leave you with this (it’s a personal favourite and he didn’t play it), and go and feel guilty about the stone I’ve gained in cake today.
Ciao for now.
P.S. That’s Bruce crossed off the to-see-live list. Now, who wants to get me tickets for the Stones?