I only really started listening to “The Boss” when the Wrecking Ball album was released a very close friend of mine was a big fan and we tried to get tickets for Bruce’s infamous 2012 gig but alas we were not fortunate…Unfortunately, Nigel has passed and never got his chance to see him.
When he was announced for a couple of BST gigs in Hyde Park I had to get some tickets and through ticket companies going bankrupt and arguments with the bank, I managed to get there and had my friend’s wife and daughter accompany me. The sun is shining and many of us are enjoying a picnic outside the gates before the non-priority entrance time of 2 pm.
As we enter the Stadium everyone from security to the guys at the bar and the punters seem in a happy mood and it lifts the spirits…I even manage to smuggle some Rum which may have helped, Although to be fair to BST the prices, although expensive aren’t extortionate and are typical of London pub prices.
Frank Turner is a lot like Ginger Wildheart, a successful underground artist and legendary British Songwriter but more leaning toward folk with some punk, and a great back catalogue, seems a perfect act for the day. We find a spot and wait for Frank Turner &The Sleeping Souls.
At 3 they walk onto the huge stage. And Frank starts with the great, acoustic-led I knew Prufrock before he was famous and this gets everyone swaying in the chill atmosphere, then into The Next Storm when people start dancing and waving their hands…When Frank addresses the audience you feel his nervousness and he is so humbled you want him to win the “Bruuuuuuuce” audience over….He doesn’t rush through his set and plays Haven’t Been Doing So Well, from his latest album FTHC, which he acknowledges his battles with Depression then onto my 2 favourite songs of his, Get Better and Be More Kind. He finishes on a high note with the lively and uplifting Four Little Words. Judging from the crowd’s response I could tell that Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls went down really well and am sure they got a few more hits on Spotify, and hopefully some good old-fashioned merch and cd sales from new fans.
When The Chicks were announced I’d never heard of them, so quick Google and now I understand, previously The Dixie Chicks. Country music is not usually my thing but I like a bit of Folk so nice to be able to catch something different. I watched their Glastonbury performance so I could see what I had to look forward to…Didn’t offend, didn’t excite but they were having fun and so seemed the Glasto crowd…. They were due on at 5 and was looking forward to them as Frank Turner got everyone in the mood for a bit of dancing and with a couple of swigs of Rum, happy days….Well that didn’t last long, after a couple of songs it seemed as if any fun had been sucked out of the stadium, the only person on stage that seemed to be having fun was the Violin player. They looked like they were doing their gig by numbers and just taking the paycheck. Didn’t seem to me that anyone was particularly enjoying their performance, I’m sure they were, maybe in Gold or Diamond Circle.Gave it a couple more songs and thought Nah food time…Alas so, it seemed to have half the audience the queues were huge for any sort of refreshments….Maybe I should have stuck around but didn’t like the music too much, they didn’t seem to care, but as I say I’m sure people that enjoy them had a good time and that’s what matters.
Temperature still hot, and the audience has swelled massively, unlike my rum which must have disintegrated in the sun…Everyone shouting “Bruuuuuuuce” which I didn’t know was a thing until Frank Turner had mentioned it earlier in the day, a negative term of endearment like Primus Sucks..Love it.. Bruce came on stage around 7 and pretty much got on with it and it was like watching a local band of mates playing their songs and enjoying themselves and hoping all the people in the room were too. I won’t go through the setlist as A: I wanted to enjoy the show and songs and B: I didn’t know half of the songs…Or so I thought, song after song after song I seemed to know…Even the ones I didn’t know it seemed as if I had been listening to them for years (if that makes sense). ‘Letter To You’ was a particular highlight for me, as that’s my favourite album, and love that song…’ Wrecking Ball’ was played, and ‘Nightshift’ by Commodores worked well, in fact, I didn’t realise it was a cover (bad music “fan” ) whoops Finishing with ‘Thunder Road’. By this point, I had nipped to the loo and spent the last part of the gig further back and watched the encores..’ Born in the USA’ ,’ Born to Run’, and ‘Glory Days’ were all kept until the end.Why not go out with your biggest hits. He could get away without playing any of them and still, everyone there wouldn’t mind, I’m sure.
His interaction with his band and Audience alike is great to witness. You can see that the band get on and gel really well and I think they could bounce off each other for 6 hours, nevermind the 3 we get tonight. The way he mingles to the front rows and welcomes them like friends is also touching..You get a sense of his appreciation of his fans and tell that he loves what he’s doing.
I often see people complaining about gig prices and Ticketmaster etc for Stadium and Arena gigs and I totally understand it..But for £119 quid it was worth every penny, same as when I saw Pearl Jam last year at the same venue…. If people want to spend £400 for a “Diamond” seat, if they have the money, good luck to them, not something I’d personally want to do. Gone are the days of paying £20 for a stadium gig (remember that was 30-40 years ago) but if you see the right artist at the right venue, £120 is worth every penny.. I’m glad I went and am thrilled I got to spend it with the people I did. I am sure if Nigel was watching he would’ve enjoyed himself and think he would have managed to stay awake through it all, which for Bruce would be the biggest form of flattery. Cheers Bruce, I hope to see you again one day X X
Author: Gordon Lancaster