In my old working life I had the good fortune to see many of the great (and some of the not so great) bands of the past 30 years. The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, U2, Elton John, Savage Garden - I have been there and seen that. There was always one performer however that eluded me. I have never seen Bruce Springsteen live. Sure he has played Vancouver before, but I was always inhibited by the need to go to the show with someone else. In hindsight that seems pretty stupid, and is definitely on of my takeaways from this trip. It's obviously great to share an experience with someone else that you can then reminisce with over the years and many beers. But to not do something you really want to because you would have to do it solo? Not me. Not ever again.
When we were in Chile last NovemberI had seen concert posters promoting upcoming Pearl Jam (yep - seen them) and Peter Gabriel (seen him too). While we were gone before they played, it made me wonder who else might be out touring. A quick check of the web unearthed the nugget that The Boss and the E Street Band would be in Europe in the spring. So as our travel plans for Europe became finalized I looked for where it would be possible to see the show. The answer was Montpellier - a city on the southwest coast of France that I had never heard of.
Montpellier itself is a pretty cool college town with the requisite funky old area that features tiny streets that you just want to get lost in. We did some wandering checking out the local attractions which included a wake board course where you didn’t even need to have a boat!
After a day of wandering it was time for the main attraction. I bid adieu to Heather and Chloe and caught the tram to the local arena. Once through security I made my way to the floor. and checked out the crowd. Thankfully there were lots of other people in my demographic, and I could see Bruce shirts everywhere. As the floor area was general admission I worked my way as close as I could get (without being a jerk - unlike some others. I guess it is the polite Canadian in me) and settled in, thankful for being tall.
At 8:20 the light went down and Bruce and the Band hit the stage, belting out “We Take Care of Our Own.” Bruce took us down The River through The Badlands on the way to The Rising and back via Tenth Avenue (where it was a bit chilly) to celebrate being Born In The USA (even though most of us at the show weren't). A highlight was during the encore when Bruce went and took a sign that a fervent fan had been waving all night that featured a song request. He took the sign from the fan, showed it to the band, then turned around and shared with us what we would be hearing next. I don’t think I have ever enjoyed “Fire” more, and I can’t imagine how the person with the sign felt.
But just as all good things do, the show finally came to an end. It was one of the best concert experiences of my life. They played close to 30 songs over a 3 hour period, many that I knew and many that I didn’t (but do now). I left the arena feeling good that I was able to tick one more item off my bucket list, and hoping that this would not be the last time I would be able to cheer for the Boss in person.