One great thing about seeing many Bruce Springsteen shows is, the next show just could be the best yet. It's one of those euphoric feelings that comes from sharing the space during one of those evenings when all I can say is, "he's on fire." Tonight was one of those nights.
As I was in General Admission, I arrived early for the "pit lottery." And, since the arena is connected by an indoor walkway to my hotel, I left my jacket behind.
The walkway was closed, the lottery was outside, I was wearing a t-shirt, and though it was reasonably nice out, it was still November in Cleveland.
Just behind me in the line was a man with 3 young girls, ages 9, 10 and 12 ("almost 13," she said). They had made signs and the oldest had one rolled up in her pocket, so I asked them to show me. The best of them said, "Dance With Me." There were 1100 people lined up for 250 pit spots, I had no jacket and the temperature was dropping.
The setlist was a powerhouse. Attack, attack, attack. Perhaps the only exception being the rap leading in to "Livin' in the Future." Every song just sizzled, from the very beginning. "Radio Nowhere" and "Night" set the tone, and it went from there. "It's So Hard to be a Saint in the City" was incendiary, with a guitar duel between Bruce and Steve that surpassed their duel just a few songs earlier in "Gypsy Biker." As that song reached its climax, with Bruce signaling Max with head nods and going ever faster and harder, the folks near me were going in to a frenzy. The band didn't quite get the ending… but no really cared.
The middle of the set featured a "women's section," starting with Patti taking lead for he song "Town Called Heartbreak" (from her album "Play it as it Lays," which I'd recommend to anyone). Patti seemed to be in a very good mood, and her interactions on stage with Bruce almost had me wishing for them to go get a room already… except that it'd interrupt the concert. Then, "Tunnel of Love," again featuring some strong Patti harmonies. And, a tour premiere of "Be True," maybe the first time since it was part of the "Tunnel of Love Express" setlist. By the end of the song, Bruce was egging on Clarence to play his solo as it was on the original b-side; every time Clarence would play, there Bruce would be, saying, "play a high one!," until Clarence relented and played one (and got it, too).
Whether Bruce's message reached the audience, I can't be sure. Too many were just having too good a time.
"Kitty's Back" sparked the encores, and, after "Born to Run," it was time for "Dancing in the Dark." The girls were front and center (yes, we "won" the lottery!). He saw the sign. Cameras were ready… and… no dance (if he had danced with them, it would have been posted by now). Judging from their smiles afterwards, I think they were ok with that.