Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, August 24, 2008, Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
Eighty minutes after the published starting time, Bruce took the stage. By that time I was ready to either walk out or rock out. Bruce and the band had a whole lot of convincing to do.
It was an insult that the band was 1 hour, 20 minutes late. You expect that of Led Zepplin or the Stones because they were so high all the time. But Bruce is the working man's hero. On a Sunday night -- a school night for 11-year-old Jack Dodd -- The Boss Man was The Late Man. Worse yet, with no explanation.
The crowd didn't get into the first two songs, two obscure oldies "Ricky Wants A Man Of Her Own" and "Cynthia". But the top blew off the Sprint Center when the band launched into "Radio Nowhere", "No Surrender" and "Out In The Street". What Bruce lacked in punctuality he made up in charisma, singing "Spirit In The Night" to a woman in the front of the mosh pit. He continually reached out to shake hands and touch his fans. He even went crowd surfing at one point (with some help from security getting the 57-year-old safely back to the stage).
During the now-famous request part of the show he gathered up about 20 signs from the pit. (Myself and a family up in the nosebleed section brought signs too, but ours weren't seen obviously.) Whether it was a plant or not, Bruce picked up a sign that said "Let Max Sing". There's a reason Mighty Max Weinberg stays behind the drum kit. His rendition of the old Shirelles' hit "Boys" was admirable, not memorable.
The other requests were "Cadillac Ranch", "Working On A Highway" and "Candy's Room." I don't think I'd heard that last one live since 1978.
"Gypsy Biker" and "Youngstown" were face melters. Bruce and Little Steven went face to face trading licks on "Biker". Nils Lofgren playing a searing solo during "Youngstown", a tasty morsel that has been somewhat of a staple on the Magic tour. Bruce delivered a sermon about our lost freedoms under the Bush administration, the subject of pop tune "Livin' In The Future" from Magic. That's the subtle intelligence of his songs. Like all great songwriters, you've got to get beyond the music to the words so see what the artist is really saying.
The typical seven-song encore included a "Save The Last Dance For Me/Dancing In the Dark" medley. Bruce pulled a young girl out of the crowd to dance. Courtney Cox inspired a generation of young girls when she shot that video more than 20 years ago.
Bruce will stay with me until the next time he goes on tour. He made mention that this was the last stop on the Magic tour. Can't wait until he comes back. Just be on time, or close to it, Boss.
• Now the bad. Our new $250 million arena had a terrible sound system. The musty, old Kemper Arena across town has better acoustics, still. I just saw a Foo Fighters show there.
Sprint Center General Manager Brenda Tinnen deserves a kick in the rear for this letdown. She still hasn't figured out how to get people into the building in an orderly manner. We got there early enough but there was anecdotal evidence of people waiting 10 to 15 minutes just to get inside. Open a few more doors, Brenda!
The upper deck seats need to come with a warning. There are so narrow and constructed at such a steep angle that I'm waiting for someone to fall and get seriously hurt. At one point, I turned to the couple next to me and asked if they'd pay for season tickets to see the NHL or NBA in those seats. Of course, they said no. You have to be mentally and physically ready to curl up your legs for three hours. The cup holders are nice but in the dark they serve as obstacles to trip you up while you make your way down the row.
Don't know if I'd be ranting like this if Bruce wasn't late, but I read on one blog that people were outside demanding their money back.
At the end of the night I was inspired, just a little bit disappointed. I popped in Live in New York CD on the way home and was left with the words of a song that Bruce didn't sing Sunday night. It describes us all, "Land of Hope and Dreams"
This train, carries saints and sinners
This train, carries losers and winners
This train, carries whores and gamblers
This train, carries lost souls
This train, dreams will not be thwarted
This train, faith will be rewarded
This train, hear the steel wheels singing'
This train, carries broken hearted
This train, thieves and sweet souls departed
This train, carries fools and kings
This train, all aboard