Sunday

A weekend with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Ullevi Stadium, Gothenburg, Sweden – June 2016

I'd been told great things about Swedish Springsteen fans, but here's the prob: apart from two or three friends I've made along the way (hello Magnus, hello Anna), I'd never actually met any. I'd heard the stories though – breaking the Ullevi stadium in 1985; bars spinning the tunes on loop in the run up to the concerts; then there's Bruce himself, always banging on about loving the Swedish concerts.

Here's what I now know about Swedish Springsteen fans: they're tall. So tall. They're cool. So damn cool. They're fans. Big, big fans.

People who don't 'get' Springsteen also won't get the two concerts in one weekend thing, but this weekend proved how different the pace and vibes of those two sets can be. Like I need to convince you!


The first night – straight up classic Bruce, 38 crowd-pleasing songs, the second-longest set ever. Tunnel of Love, for the first time in eight years. EIGHT YEARS. (Over on this blog post Nils Lofgren told us a bit about how it came to be played.)

For these two concerts I was with (one of) my 'Bruce husbands' Steve (@GreasyLake on Twitter). For night one, we stood at the side stage where there was plenty of room for dancing and the crowd were enthusiastic but polite. And cool. Did I mention that before?

Because words can be a bit of a slog, I've decided to bash these concert 'reviews' out with pictures and emojis. It's important to move with the times. And I love an emoji. Especially that peach.


With Steve - aka @GreasyLake on Twitter

Helloooo Ullevi

Greasy Lake, Magnus, me and Tony Ginger

Bruce at the back of the pit

WATCH THIS FOR JOY (even if you don't love the song it's gotta make you happy)








Tunnel of Love

Springsteen in Gothenburg, night two

For the second night we went towards the middle. We made punny signs. We waited. It rained. It stopped. It rained again. I need to buy a waterproof jacket.

Although I'm not really one for set list comparisons (after all, going to a Springsteen concert is about way more than the songs you hear – it's the crowd around you, the days before and the versions of the song), I'm still gonna say that I preferred this set list. And that Racing in the Street... Oh man. Dem shivers.









Eyes closed 80% of the time I'd say















I'm going to leave you with this video, because for me, this is what going to a Springsteen concert is about. When this tour is over (oh man), this is the clip I'll refer back to when I need a Bruce boost.

Hope you like it.



WATCH THIS FOR MORE JOY (even if you don't love the song it's gotta make you happy)




Sometimes I fall behind on my blog posts (it happens). Follow my burger- and Bruce-related trips over on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Tuesday

Bumping into Nils Lofgren and eating the burger at The Barn, Gothenburg, Sweden

I ate four burgers on my Bruce Springsteen weekend in Gothenburg, Sweden. Oops.

But I'm just going to tell you about one of them – partly because it was the best, and also because Nils Lofgren was there having a burger too! (More on that in a sec.)

Nils Lofgren Gothenburg
With Steve (@GreasyLake on Twitter) and Nils

Anyway, The Barn. This place has a location in the town centre, but also has a very nice outdoor garden spot by the water if you're visiting in the summer. The burger I tried was the standard cheeseburger, and it was spot on. Chunky patty, lovely onion chutney, awesome crispy chips (I went for the sweet potato version and recommend you do the same). Oooh, and a a big truffle mayo dipping sauce is included. 

It's spenny – I mean, Gothenburg is the place to burn through money. But I went to The Barn the day after the whole Brexit shit show, and with the bad conversion rate meant I was looking at an £18 burger (I'd say £15 is the absolute limit in my life, and I expect gold sprinkles for that price). 

Let's call this the Brexit Burger.

burger at The Barn Gothenburg

Nevertheless, we went back the next day (it was late, and it's open late – that's handy). I rarely write about veggie burgers, so I thought I'd try the halloumi burger, which comes with avocado. It was nice, but lacking some lube. All a bit claggy (get the truffle mayo and that could help).

And then there's the other great thing about The Barn – Nils Lofgren and his wife Amy were there. I didn't actually see them eat a burger as they were finishing up, but they did stop for a chat with us. Nils was talking about the previous night's inclusion of Tunnel of Love on the setlist (the band hadn't played it for eight years), and how he'd been practising it back before one of the Brooklyn dates. Apparently Bruce had walked in and said "that's a good one."

"It's not a good one," Nils replied. "It's a fucking GREAT one." 

Damn right, Nils! 

Does Nils like burgers, too? He said he doesn't eat them that much (they were there as a recommendation from their son), and that he much prefers pizza. MMMMM, PIZZA.

Nils would as you'd hope and expect – kind, quiet, gracious.

Here's one of the other burgers I had in Gothenburg; after the Springsteen concert when I was mega hungry. It's from sort of healthier Swedish version of McDo called Max. It did the job. The spicy honey/curry/mustard sauce was a bit of an odd one though.


Go to the Barn in Gothenburg. Even better, go to see Springsteen and the E Street Band in Gothenburg. More on that to come.




Sunday

Five Guys, Take Two

A few years back I slagged off Five Guys because the burgers made me feel fat and shit. And while there's a certain expectation that burgers will always make you feel a bit fat and a bit shit, there are different levels of feeling fat and shit. I felt very fat and very shit. The grease was next level.

Then the other night I went to see Alice Cooper in concert at the Stone Free festival at London's 02. He was great. So great that when he played Poison I dropped my phone into my pint (it survived, somehow). Poison is that song I always pester the DJ for at the end of a night out. Never invite me to your wedding.

Anyway, he played the last song and he came out and we were really hungry and there was no queue at Five Guys. "Fuck it," we thought. We'll try one.

So £8 is steep for a fast food-style cheeseburger, but we figured out a way to make your money back. Toppings. All the toppings. There are 15 to choose from and we just said we'd take everything (actually it's surely just easier for the people working there, too). That's mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, etc etc. In those 15 toppings there are four sauces.

That'll make your burger look like this:

Five Guys burger London 02
SPLAT

In hindsight, the tomatoes were a mistake (I blame the pints). But this burger tasted good! (Partly because of the pints). I didn't feel fat and shit AT ALL!

There's a lot of Shake Shack vs Five Guys chat. This was a vast improvement, but Shake Shack's always the winner for me. Still, I liked it. I'd go again, and I never thought I'd say that.

Quite fancy one now actually.



A weekend with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Coventry and London Wembley, June 2016

Excuse me a second while I load this blog post with capital letters and gushing, joyful words. I'm just so EXCITED about the BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN weekend I spent in Coventry and London Wembley with some mega-great people. Here you can see a few of them:





But I'm getting ahead of myself. Bruce and the E Street Band are back on tour, and so we, the fans, are back on the road, too. Springsteen's music does great things for people like us, but it's the tours we really crave. And need.

All Springsteen fans have suffered some shit times over the last few years  – some more than others  – and these concerts help us think positively again. They provide comfort. It's a fact.

This particular therapy session was a long weekend in Coventry, with an epic Sunday night gig in my home town of London. I will never forget this weekend. EVER.

The week before the concerts I was distracted. Colleagues asked me to stop tapping my pen/hands/legs. I was concentrating, but not really concentrating. Looking at you, but not really looking at you. Just mostly looking past you thinking about last night's setlist in some other European city. 

Then at 4.40pm on Thursday I was out that door to meet my awesome Bruce pal Chris at Euston. If you ever meet Chris you are guaranteed lolz; we met back in 2013 and I've been lucky to go to a few Springsteen concerts with him since. He has gone from a great guy to a great friend, like so many other people I've got to know by just both being Springsteen fans. I LOVE that. 

But I digress!

We took the train to Coventry and met up with our other Bruce pals – the group of us had decided that Coventry was the city we'd all try to congregate at. Springsteen's tours take us to many cool places, but Coventry is not one of them. I'm sorry.

This train

That night – the Thursday – we caught up in the arena's casino. We ate really terrible overdone burgers. We faceswapped.

SO BAD

The next day was show day. Lots of hanging around, faceswapping (it's my new favourite thing to do), meeting new people (hey Kate!), panicking about needing loo mid concert.

@ChrisTreloar and @GreasyLake

And then we were in  – in the most lovely orderly way.

The last sips of water

Oh my! Faceswapping

Here's Coup, a guy we met in the pit. You may not recognise him without his wig (more on him later). I donated some of my cardboard box to him because I'm generous like that, and I'd like to hear that song.

With Chris and Coup

I'm not going to dissect the setlists. What can I really say? Bruce was on form, the band were on point, Jake nailed his solo, Nils nailed his solo. Blah blah BLAH! For proper analysis head to Backstreets. I might offer my own personal opinions, for what they are worth (to clarify: it's nothing).

But that opener. "For You" as a piano solo. I know he's been mixing it up, but I didn't expect THAT. And there I was thinking the album version was decent. The first five or so songs for this set were really strong for me, you could just see that despite his cold and funny hair (why's it so coiffed?), that Bruce was gonna be on form. I liked the early" Hungry Heart" too (with added singing child).

Cred: Chris Treloar

Songs, songs, more songs.




Then the song. Or the song for me at least. There weren't many signs in Coventry, at least none that seemed particularly appealing for Bruce. Hence him grabbing my scrappy "Save My Love" (For Burgers) and chucking it on the floor (I'm really glad he played the song, but it would have been jokes if he'd taken it specifically and never played it).

Then after "Two Hearts are Better Than One" Bruce picked my sign back up. Something like "it's one of the more obscure sign requests we've had, there is literally no response from the crowd when I show this sign. What the fuck is that song?" He checked Roy knew what he was doing (he did) practiced some chords himself, hummed the first few bars.

And then he played it. And my heart swelled with joy. Is it that obscure a request? I'm not sure. It's a song that makes me crazy happy, one I'll stick on in the morning if I'm after a pick me up. Here's a video of the Coventry version.

Cred: @GreasyLake

"WTF is this." Cred: @ChrisTreloar

"Drive All Night" was beautifully delivered, as standard (although slightly tinged by the realisation that so many people in London would be waiting to hear it, and were unlikely to if it was just played in Coventry. I'm sorry Annie).

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)

Cred: Coup @c_coups (aka Courteney Cox)


For me, the last quarter could really do with being shuffled up a bit – even just the order if the songs are going to remain the same. I know this formula works, and "Shout" is SO fun, but it seems a little stale to stay with "Born Run", "Dancing in the Dark", etc etc. Also, I know it's an obvious song, but "Born To Run" would be an amazing opener, and change that end part of the show, too.

OPEN WITH "BORN TO RUN", BRUCE.

Here's Greasy Lake's helpful summary of the Coventry night:


We took some snaps after the concert and headed back to the adjoining casino, where Elvis sang some Bruce songs and met even more great people (including a father and son duo who are travelling to looooads of Springsteen concerts together this summer. Amazing. You know how I feel about going to Springsteen dates with your parents, right?).

Sunday. Another day another Springsteen concert...

...this time in my home city of London. Some of you will have seen Bruce and the band play at the stadium back in 2013 when the weather was grim and the queue chaotic.

This was the exact opposite. Blazing sunshine, all smiles, no frowns.

Cred: Steve Allen

We heard the soundcheck ("My City of Ruins", "Seeds", others) and made it into the pit. This concert was extra exciting because we were joined by Beth and Charlie, aka my 'Bruce parents', who I met in Belfast a few years back (although they are from Philadelphia). Beth reminds me of me – excitable, slightly erratic, a tad chaotic. SO happy to be there.

Beth and Charlie up front

Chris, Adam, me, and Jenny, Greasy Lake and Coup (Courteney Cox) behind

We made signs, faceswapped and took bets on the opening song. 

But we never expected Bruce to whistle his way through "Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" (About that whistling, Bruce…). It was random, and not brilliantly done, but there was something about that that was really quite charming, endearing... here's Springsteen, the guy who gets it right so much, getting the opening song in a big city like London a little bit wrong. I like that.

The pit was rammed – barely jumping room for "Seeds", "Wrecking Ball" and "No Surrender". "Be True" and "I'll Work For Your Love" were DIVINE.

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: Steve Allen

Cred: @ChrisTreloar

Cred: @ChrisTreloar

Other favs of mine were "Tougher Than The Rest" (Bruce congratulated the talent of the London crowd with their sign making. Cardboard boxes won't cut it no more) and "My City of Ruins". Who am I kidding? They're all favourites. But these were special.

Cred: Steve Allen

Now Chris is a strong guy so he lobbed me on his shoulders for DITD. And finally I could see! And more importantly I could see everyone else: thousands of red, sweaty happy faces of radical joy. It's quite something.



Cred: @GreasyLake

The joy.

I wasn't the only one

Then Coup. Coup who'd been carrying around a white plastic shopping bag all day – I'd just assumed it was full of biscuits (we'd eaten loads of his chocolate Foxes earlier). Back on the ground I turned around and there he was on his poor mate's slender shoulders. A shit black wig was hanging lopsided off his head.

Bruce clocked him.

And the rest is easily the best Springsteen/fan dance I've ever seen. Coup nailed the dancing, nailed the vocals and almost broke Bruce's guitar with that strumming. Coup the postman is a local (global) hero.




It was outshone – just – by that "Thunder Road" acoustic finisher, something I think we'll never get bored of. That song does something to me that I will never be able to explain, but I know that if you're reading this you get it.

There's been a lot of chat recently about Bruce's words just before leaving the stage – the normal "we'll be seeing ya" has been swapped for "the E Street Band loves you" prompting some of us to get into a right flap about what this might mean for the band's touring future (especially with "Bobby Jean" so late in the set, too).

But those essential words came. "We'll be seeing ya." And the crowd around me went MENTAL.

We took group pictures, periscoped and walked out of that stadium together in a happy daze.

Coup!

Mari and Chris. Big love.
BRILLIANT PEOPLE


Another helpful summary from Greasy Lake:


These concerts were packed with raw, crazy emotion and happiness. They all are.

To quote Chris, "it's not about where you are, it's who you're with. But it does help where you are."

And that's why we're doing THIS. And why we're doing it together.


I'm heading to a couple more dates this summer, in case I fall behind on blogging (I don't have the best track record) you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...