December 4, 2012
Having castigated myself during presidential season for missing Bruce Springsteen's show at the Sports Arena in April, I resolved to see him this time around, Orange County traffic be damned.
Because the Greatest Rock and Roll Show One Will Ever Experience is worth a little effort, dammit.
See also: *Our slideshow of the concert
But the location fed the fear that, for all of these three and a half hour Springsteen concerts that have been happening for as long as you've been alive, one might not be happening to you.
That said, the Honda Center is nicer than the Staples Center.
Newer. Mighty Ducksier.
But it's Anaheim, perhaps the least rock and roll place on the planet, which is why, even as deep as Bruce's bag of trick is, it's not easy to come up with a personalized anecdote about the place. Still, he did it, about a failed trip to Disneyland with an insistent Stevie Van Zandt at the "height of our megastardom" in 1985. They were turned away at the gate, unfortunately; something about their shoddy dress and the bandana Springsteen wore back then.
But fortunately for all of us suburbanites and suburbanites at heart Bruce has this pathological problem about wanting to please everybody, and in a way that makes each pleased person believe she is uniquely pleased. By the end of song two -- "Adam Raised a Cain" -- his vest was soaked through, and a little later during "Hungry Heart" he was crowdsurfing. The wave took him from the middle of the floor back to the main stage, but then something went wrong and he was dropped, more or less on his head. Nils Lofgren panicked and ran over, but the Boss popped up moments later, a bit sweatier, a bit closer to social security eligibility, a bit more determined to make us never forget this show.
About the only one around with more giddyup was Tom Morello, who seemed to spend about half the night up there. They shared at least three awkward hugs over this time, and when Morello walked off stage the audience would show their appreciation by yelling, "Bruuuuce."
There was also of course an accordion player and a full horn section, including Jake Clemons, Clarence's nephew, who is charismatic, wears a big afro and got tons of time in the spotlight. Everyone seemed to love him, and they also showed this by, when he finished a solo, yelling: "Bruuuuuuuce." Social Distortion's Mike Ness made an appearance as well, and Bruce saddled up to him like they were best friends; perhaps they are that. But really Bruce is best friends with everybody, including a seven-year-old girl he plucked from the crowd during "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." He handed her the mic for a couple of choruses, sat her on his shoulder, kissed her and then, after handing her back to her parents, gave her a guitar pick.