|Springsteen Concert Reviews from the 2000 Tour|
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Nashville, TN, April 12, 2000
Set List Available
Posted on April 24, 2000 @ 6:00PM GMT
Front Row in Nashville.
I monitored the charity auctions. I placed a few bids. Fortunately I was the winner of a pair of front row tickets for the Nashville show, which I already had the airfare and hotel for. Also included with the front row seats: backstage passes. I dumped the tickets I already paid for at face value. Some people would consider this extravagant, but it was actually surprisingly affordable. I realized this was the only way I was ever going to see a show on this tour from the front row.
We got in the arena in pretty good order even though long lines had formed; unlike some places the crowd was in a hurry to get in even before the doors opened. Staff told us the doors were being held up due to an extra-long sound check. After figuring out where to get my will-call tickets (I refused to believe I would really get them until they were actually in my hands), putting on the wristband and sticking on the yellow backstage pass, we asked where the hospitality room was and beat it down there right away.
There was plenty of room for us backstage and we had pretty free reign. Instead of confining us to one room, it was more a matter of where we couldn't go; black curtains supported on portable aluminum stands cordoned off those areas. After passing up one big room occupied by just a couple people, we went down the hall and discovered the real hospitality rooms: there were two adjoining rooms, and you could also roam a couple hallways decorated by glass-covered posters signed by various acts who had performed at the arena. There were light non-alcoholic refreshments and maybe 150 people.
There was little interaction between people who did not already know each other. Just after my buddy commented that it was unlikely we would see any of the E Street Band members, I gestured with my head and said, "so I suppose that's not Max right behind you?"
Max, Danny and Gary circulated, everyone played it pretty cool except for two groups of young ladies who posed for photos with Danny and Max, who cheerfully obliged. I kept my 18 Tracks CD liner in my pocket, like most there, I wanted to act cool. But now I ask myself, were they acting cool or just ignoring them because most of them didn't know who the hell they were? I commented to my friend that it would be nice if fans could be here instead of what appeared really to be a group who got in through connections and had no strong affinity for this particular act.
Nils was also around but stayed just beyond one of the barriers, I reached through it and greeted him. I reminded him we had met near the gate at a connecting airport for one of last year's shows, where I had a chance to speak to him He pretended to remember, gave me a big smile and a handshake.
The rest of the guys I let leave without a greeting, they probably get enough people trying to shake their valuable musicians' hands. My friend told Danny his son is attending the same high school he went to, when he asked him if it went by the same name then, Danny responded that it has had the current name for quite a while, and "don't make me that old!" A couple of minutes later Dan cheerfully reminded someone that "I'm Danny, not Gary."
We decided to take our seats to soak up the front-row atmosphere as long as possible. The entire first row, and probably a good proportion of the first few, were upgrades, still in a state of shock. My seat was directly in front of Nil's microphone, six seats to the left of Bruce's, my friend to the left of me was almost directly behind the left camera. I plopped into the seat, I didn't really believe it would happen; the plane would crash on my way there, or the show would be cancelled, or the venue would have no record of me.
Directly in front of Bruce was an upgrade of 4 girls in their 20's, no surprise there. To their left were 2 guys, to their left and to my immediate right was a nice young couple in their early 30's. The guy asked me where I came from, I said "New Jersey!" No, he meant, where in the arena. I told him I paid for these seats, I can't rely on someone giving them to me!
I saw when the setlists came out, most of the front row security guys got them, as mine held it up to read, I could see through the paper and tried to read backwards, I'm almost sure "Take 'em" was the opening song on the list.
One thing that surprised me, even though this was my 10th of this tour was how Bruce keeps his eyes either totally maybe 90% of every show. Certainly they are closed during the singing of every emotional or heavy song; he will open them during something like Out in the Street or Ramrod. Even then he does not do a lot of focusing on people, when he did it was mostly to the couple of people right in front of him, at the mic he does not often look left or right, kind of like tunnel vision.
I think in the front rows you should get involved, show the band you are having a good time to encourage them to give their best, but not try to take advantage of it by yelling things to them during slow songs. We sat during the slow numbers to give the people behind us chance to rest and still see; it was cool to sit down and see the crowd behind you follow suit.
The stage lights make the air very hot; no wonder they sweat so much. When the over-the-stage lights would go on, you could feel them. I felt I had a decent shot at getting the harmonica after the last solo of Promised Land since few there would realize this was a staple of earlier tours, and still occurs a decent amount of the time. I cupped my hands like a catcher and gestured to him, but without first looking he whipped it underhand just to his left.
I intended to ask for the guitar at the end of Workin', but even before unplugging it he pointed at a guy just to his left and mouthed "you wanta play it?" and gave it to him, afterward he mouthed "you did a good job." The guy did a good job tossing it back; I would've been afraid to hit him in the face with it. The girls right in front of him and a couple of guys right behind them had a chance to strum the electric during Born to Run.
I had asked the security guy stationed right in front of me prior to the show when they let the first four rows or so come up to the stage. He said at most they might let the first two or so rows up near the end of the show I told him I wanted to be ready so I didn't get run over. Really I wanted to be ready to get myself up there rather than someone behind me.
During Light of Day I sensed some movement so I crept up, not wanting to be squeezed out. I think it was Terry who came by and gave the security guys a signal and they waved us back a couple feet - we complied. The edges of the front row were up, only the middle was back, I started to think I'd be at the only show that kept us back, I wasn't happy about the situation.
Right after Light of Day, our guard gestured to me and my buddy and ushered us to spots right at the riser, our courtesy had paid off. He even moved the camera a bit to the left so we could get in, the couple to my right was right up there too, but no one from the second row was allowed to squeeze us out - they were right behind us.
One thing I'll always remember was that as Bruce and Clarence met near the end of Thunder Road, they were right up above me, mere feet away. May have had something to do with the camera being there. They made us beg for Ramrod after Land of Hope and Dreams, all of them pointing to their watches and shaking their heads "no."
We pounded the riser so hard that for quite a while after the show I actually thought my hands were fractured. As they stood there soaking in the applause you could see Bruce and Steve gabbing away, seemingly about the crowd. Reading his lips, clearly Bruce said something about "the last row."
Needless to say, they brought the house done with Ramrod.
We tried out the hospitality room afterward - it was a little embarrassing. We were like a pack of dogs pursuing a scrap of food until we found the room, then we hung in the hallway. It was obvious most were waiting for Bruce to pass by on his way out, although all were pretending not to.
Jon Landau was around, passing through the hall a couple of times, then behind the black curtain where the important people were. Roy was hanging in the hall near me, I said "nice show, Roy." He gave me a small, tired smile and softly said "thank you," he seems to be a quite, shy guy. Nils was around, he and Roy hugged and both said "see you in Louisville" then Nils headed out. Max was nearby, just a few feet from me; he was telling a guy "we're doing the Garden in June and July" (like this guy was a real fan needing to be told this.)
I hung around a bit more, not wanting to let go of my last chance to ever be backstage, but it was now midnight and we had an early flight. We got directions out a different way and passed through the loading dock where the equipment was being loaded on trucks; I thought they might put us to work.
What a wonderful night, I could deal this sort of experience every night. It was definitely one of the best nights of my life. The ticket, pass and wristband I'm gonna frame. The tickets: X dollars. The flight, hotel, and car: Y dollars. The experience of being in the front row: PRICELESS
Written by Frank Matturri