Prologue: Blame it on The Boss
29 May 2000
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: E-United Tour
Delta Center, Salt Lake City, Utah
It was a graduation present to me: A Greyhound bus trip to Salt Lake City to see Bruce Springsteen. Getting a ticket in the third row on the floor made it a no brainer.
Down in that area of the arena, there were some die hard Springsteen fans. One guy from New Jersey told me he had been to 49 shows. That's dedication. I mean, the guy's been performing for quite a while now, so he must've been going to his concerts all along.
No. No. Poor, naïve Matt.
He'd been to 49 shows on this single tour!
Bruce and company put on a heckuva show. It seemed mechanical at first, as they ripped through one song after another.
But, sure enough, by the end, Bruce had everybody worked up and feeling alive. From the third row, I could see The Boss was impressed with the crowd's ability to sing along and get roused up. It wasn't a sell out crowd, but it was a happy crowd.
Bruce's "James Brown Routine," as he limped across the stage with his bandmates helping him along, was terrific. Then there was the hellfire and brimstone Southern Baptist preacher spiel. "Do you feel alive tonight? I can't promise you life everlasting, like my competitors, but I can promise you life tonight!"
He was preachin' to the choir!
Toward the end of the show, they let the first two rows charge the stage. Gimme a break! I didn't travel all that way - by bus - to be denied stage access because of one stinkin' row!
When Little Steven pointed at the empty floor space in front of the stage and gave me a "What gives?" look, I heard the call and made my move. Doing a little "fake out" maneuver around the security guard, I ran past him and said, "They want us down there!"
I picked a prime piece of space toward stage right and started thumping on the stage. There was Steven Van Zandt… Patti… all the gang. I waved at 'em.
Bruce went in to the crowd to the right of the stage and sang to a little girl wearing what looked like red earmuffs. He had a grin from ear to ear and a playful demeanor.
Bruce made his way back to the stage and ran himself ragged. I looked up and he seemed a little discombobulated after all the running around.
There I was. Looking up at The Boss standing right in front of me, drenched in sweat. He lowered himself, placed both of his hands in front of me, palms out. BOOM! I high five the man and he takes off, running across the stage, high-fiving the crowd.
We were all riled up and ready to roll.
It was surreal. It was electric. It was lightning in a bottle.
There was some kind of charge in those wet, sweaty hands. I had been baptized in the Ministry of Rock 'n' Roll by the Very Reverend Bruce Springsteen.
It was my idea of a graduation commencement. Three years of grad school, three years of sacrifice. That moment at the Delta Center changed things and got me thinking. What about when U2 tours with their new album?
Little did I know this concert in sleepy little Salt Lake City would become the catalyst for something huge, and a whole new way of looking at life and the world. That spark of inspiration would wind up taking me from the rooftop of MTV in New York City (with U2 performing for a few fans and a flotilla of teenage girls praying to every god in the known universe for a single glimpse of Carson Daly) to Slane Castle outside Dublin, Ireland (with U2 performing for at least 80,000 rabid Bonoholics).
U2. The Irish rock band that taught me to dream out loud.
In high volume.
As Keith Olbermann would say, "UNbelievable."
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