Remember I said the first 300 people in line at a Springsteen show get the best floor seats? Well, say hello to #276!!!! One wristband gets you onto the floor, the second gets you into "the pit," an area in front of a barricade just for you and 299 of your fellow Bruceaholics.
I was about six people deep in the crowd, dead center. I saw it all: everybody in the band and how they interacted, the sweat that flew off Bruce every time he flung up his hand, the guitar work, the veins in his neck, the way he managed the crowd. Incredible.
It was fabulous. Completely worth it. Insanely time-consuming. Spoiled me for any other show, especially another Bruce show. I doubt I can ever go see him again, because Tuesday's show was so great. I felt it was a once-in-a-lifetime deal.
People tend to compare music with religion, something I've studiously avoided. Bruce doesn't make it easy, with his overt religious imagery and the devotion he inspires. Still, I've always held that music is more of an addiction (there, Mom & Dad, don't you feel better?) and this exercise would only confirm that. No matter the time, effort, expense, difficulty, I was going to get a good spot at this show.
I worked a half-day and zoomed south on I-65 on this gorgeous last-gasp-of-autumn day, seeing the trees in all their ragged glory. I got to Birmingham about 2:40 p.m. and, amazingly, was number 276 in line. (The people at the very front of the line showed up on Sunday). The "line" is run by diehard fans/volunteers (Do they have jobs? How do they finance this lifestyle? These are among the many unanswered questions) and is amazingly civilized.
However, it reeks of machismo. Everyone (at least most folks in the 260s and 270s) were trying to one-up one another in terms of Bruce attendance and devotion. [We're all standing outside the arena for 4+ hours in order to be at the guy's feet. I think we all start on the same plane of obsession.] I took to calling No. 274 "Know-It-All Jay" because he was jabbering on about all the times he'd seen Springsteen, the set list for the night, blah blah blah. Of course, he was the first person to complain about standing for hours on end. I felt like saying, "This isn't the Bataan Death March. Feel free to fall out of line if you can't bear it."