They came from distant lands, by all means of transport, public and private. The arena was packed – 10,000, maybe more. All waiting nervously. Excited about witnessing one of the rare events of the modern world.
Some wore robes of events past. Others were joined by their children, even grandchildren. The young and the old, together in anticipation. The mood was buoyant. Necks craned towards the stage, their owners eager to be the first to sight the great man.
Instantly the dark engulfed us. The crowd erupted – screaming, shouting, hooting!
A thin white plume of smoke rose above the masses – was it the signal we were awaiting? Then a movement on the stage. He’d arrived. And as one, the crowd began the chant…
BBBRRRUUUUUCCEE! BBBRRRUUUUUCCEE! BBBRRRUUUUUCCEE!
Yes folks this was it – not the inauguration of Francis in a Frock. This was the start of an epic event – a Bruce Springsteen concert.
The Boss is famous for his energetic shows and enthusiasm for his audiences. And again he delivered. Within a half hour he was reaching out to touch the people. They poured forth, also touching him, shouting his name. I never thought the name ‘Bruce’ carried such religious connotations. Particularly after the infamous Monty Python sketches deriding Australian’s, because they all seemed to be named Bruce. I know quite a few Bruce’s – but I digress.
Then he jumped from the stage and walked among his throng. Women fainted, grown men begged a handshake and the masses hollered. He kept singing as he greeted his followers – encouraging them to join in one big mutual chorus.
A low walkway was hidden within the area down front, where people paid a gazillion dollars to stand all night with a pink wristband as ID. The Boss walked across it. Was he walking on the shoulders of the fans? All this was projected on large overhead screens, for those too far away for their binoculars to focus.
He knelt and kissed a silver-haired lady on the forehead. For a minute I was shocked. “Mum?” I screamed, then realised she wasn’t a fan. But the look of exhilaration on her face, made her appear at least 50 years younger. And the grin on her partner’s face gave away his thoughts immediately. The crowd loved it, more cheering and whistles.
Then The Boss leaned back towards the stage and crowd-surfed his way across his followers and fans. Held aloft by hundreds of digits groping and clawing with one hand while taking photos with their phones in the other. They wanted social media kudos – unlike their mere mortal friends and connections – they had really connected with The Boss.
But that’s when it hit me – a close up that I’d earlier blamed on a technical hitch in the lighting. The Boss’s sideburns, yes folks his sideburns, were a different colour to his well-cut crop on top. The sides were dark with a grey tinge. His crop was almost auburn. Auburn! Doesn’t The Boss have black hair? Maybe I’m wrong?
In mild panic I shouted above the din and asked my wife if I was hallucinating – she replied disappointed, “not again dear”. Then I rephrased and asked her opinion. “Yes” she confirmed. It appeared The Boss dyed his hair.
I was stunned – and completely missed the next couple of songs as I pondered this possibility. Could it be true that the definition of “rock authenticity” in the rock n roll dictionary, had succumbed to cosmetic influences? What has become of the world?
He is after all 63 years of age. And he obviously has problems reading the run sheet on the floor. He relied on the fans to tell him what songs to play. Many of these followers were apparently aware The Boss had an eyesight problem. So they held aloft cardboard signs with the names of his famous songs written in large letters.
Bruce, I feel I can call him that now, would pluck a sign from a willing hand. He’d then display it for the cameras to project on the overhead screens (he’s quite thoughtful that way) and then show the band, before placing the sign against the microphone stand. He didn’t have to worry about what to play. His fans created the run sheet for him – that’s true community for you – and not a Tweet or FB posting in sight.
But wait. What’s this? The Boss is hoisting a young child on stage – a boy of maybe 12 years. I have no idea if he couldn’t walk before he was chosen, but the child has now started singing and dancing on stage with The Boss. They joined hands and ran across the stage, finishing in a knee slide with hands aloft – just like real rock stars! (or EPL goal scorers).
The crowd was out of its seat at once. Tears were even shed at this generous gesture of greatness. The Boss was truly a wonder. What a show! What a band! What a mystery! Does The Boss really dye his hair?
We raced for the exit, beating the masses to a taxi.
Falling into the cab, we were completely wired from the experience. Our driver asked in his second language, English, “has da concert finished?”.
“Yes” we replied.
“Who wazza playin?” he inquired.
“Bruce Springsteen, The Boss” I exclaimed, looking forward to an enthusiastic discussion about said wonder.
“Never heard of him” said the driver. “Is he the one that paints his face and has that coloured hair?”
Deflated, I didn’t know how to answer, so I scrolled my camera roll for evidence….does The Boss really dye his hair?