Land of Hope and Dreams

“To me, the idea of a romantic is someone who sees the reality, lives the reality every day, but knows about the possibilities too. You can’t lose sight of the dreams.” – Bruce Springsteen

Although I’ve been told a follow up is necessary, I’m afraid to describe the experience knowing whatever I write won’t do the night justice. One of my biggest dreams came true, and I can say with conviction that this concert from the front row will be one of the best memories of my life and most likely the pinnacle of all concert experiences.

Over the course of 3 hours, Bruce and the band eased away any stress or pain I arrived with. I was part of a congregation. On paper, last year’s Greensboro show was superior, but the intimacy from our vantage point took this one to a whole new level.

The moments leading up to the memorable night feel destined now. As amazing as my first four Bruce shows were from assigned seating, I knew I needed to experience E Street on the general admission floor. When Bruce announced a Nashville date during the final leg of the Magic tour last summer, Bret and I secured our floor seats unaware of the policy requiring GA ticket holders to arrive several hours in advance to receive a numbered wristband for the pit section lottery.

With Bret in Europe for the Working on a Dream tour, his awesome younger brother Tyler ironically became my partner in crime this past weekend. We had the entire day to make the two hour trip to Greensboro and investigated every touring FAQ forum possible to ensure we’d be ready for the opportunity to be front and center. Wristbands were given out in a specific three hour window before the show’s listed start time, which led us to believe we needed to be there by 4pm to secure a solid low lottery number.

After some fun jet skiing and delicious lakeside lunching in the Charlotte sun, we ended up leaving an hour later than planned, landing us at the venue around 4:45. Regardless of the slight delay, we were feeling good until a little yellow flyer attached with our parking pass provided an unsettling wake-up call — Wristbands distributed until 5pm. With minutes to make it to the complete opposite side of the venue parking lot, we sprinted with Taco Bell and tickets in hand as if our lives depended on it.

The next few minutes were full of doubt and self-loathing. How did I not hear about the 5pm cutoff earlier? Why did we stop for Taco Bell thinking we had plenty of time to kill? Did I lock my car before we started sprinting? Was the car still going to be there when we got out of the show from our less sweet seats? Why wasn’t I in better shape for this pivotal race to the box office? The worries temporarily evaporated when we luckily secured #1235 and #1236 of the 1241 total wristbands.

As we attempted to ease our adrenaline with soft tacos, the tour manager quickly announced that the number was about to be pulled. Silence drew over the 1250 avid fans awaiting direction from the powerful (but slightly inaudible) megaphone. “We have 450 spots available for the pit area tonight” (pause for hoorays) “All 1241 wristband numbers are inside this container. We’ll be pulling a random number out momentarily. The owner of the wristband with the number that gets pulled will be the first person allowed into the pit. From there, the next 449 numbered wristbands will be allowed to enter. If your number is not within the range of 450, you will still be on the floor with great views, just not in the pit.”

Dead silence as a number gets drawn. “Again, the number that I have just drawn will be the first of the 450 winners for the pit area.” Stillness.  “Tonight’s number is #981.” CHEERS ERUPT FROM THE #981-1241 CROWD!  RIGHTEOUS FIST PUMPS ALL AROUND!

At #1235 and #1236, Tyler and I were golden. It was destiny. Had we arrived at 4pm as planned, our numbers would have surely fallen in the range of heartbroken fans. My musical icon came through in the clutch, with the most appropriate timing imaginable. Even if we live in an often disappointing reality, you can’t lose sight of the dreams.

The no camera policy prevented us from documenting the epicness ourselves, but we were literally on the front guard rail by the third song. We could see the sweat flying off of Bruce’s fingers during guitar solos. The cameramen used our section for the “pumped fans” jumbo screen shots. On multiple occasions, Bruce was inches away.

The entire show was outstanding, but my favorite moment came courtesy of “The Promised Land”. At the 3:35 video mark, Bruce was looking directly at us and put his arms out to the front row fans. Typically a wallflower who avoids singing at shows, I’ve never been more into a song as I was singing face-to-face with one of my heroes:

Darkness on the Edge of Town has become the soundtrack to my life these past few years. “The Promised Land” especially hits home, so it was only appropriate that I was throwing fist pumps with the legend during that song of all songs. I momentarily reached that place he was singing about. Of course, instilling hope has always been Bruce’s ultimate goal, especially touring during these specific hard times, and he more than met that mission this past Saturday night.

BEGINNING OF ENCORE – “HARD TIMES”:

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6 Responses to “Land of Hope and Dreams”

  1. Mommie Says:

    I have been anxiously awaiting this post and must admit, I’m speechless!

  2. walthers2 Says:

    i knew you would make it to see bruce… mark, you were born to run

  3. Sanchez Says:

    Damn myself for being in Europe….this is the first moment I have been pissed that I am trapped on this stupid continent.

  4. blumpkin Says:

    One of the best (read funniest) nights of my life also involved Tyler Vukoder as a pivotal player. He’s definitely way more fun to hang with than Bret.

  5. cbgb Says:

    would it be inappropriate at this point to say that bruce does nothing for me? KIDDING! my first bruce experience definitely turned me into a fan…but seriously, this post is awesome. maybe the vukoders are just lucky and you can pull a round two with bret in the upcoming shows…that would truly make 2009 a year to remember.

  6. Mommie Says:

    I’m amazed at how many of Mark’s favs were non Bruce fans until they went to a concert with my handsome boy! Now that you’ve converted these favs to Bruce fans Markie Poo, how bout those awesome Yankees? Any takers?

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