Bruce Springsteen: Why the Edinburgh Murrayfield gig is the greatest I have ever seen
I’ve seen Springsteen play umpteen times over the last four decades, but Tuesday’s gig at Murrayfield Stadium was simply the perfect performance; a stunning, powerful three hour rock ‘n’ roll show that paused not once to draw breath.
Other than counting the band in, he barely spoke to the crowd, but still held them in the palm of his hand. He simply swapped his guitar and the next one of his 29 songs came rolling at you in a gig than spanned three incredible hours but which flew past in the blink of an eye, such was its intensity and pace and emotional impact.
At 73, Springsteen’s movement around the stage may be more measured, but the showman remains the absolute master of his craft. The connection he forges with his audience is astonishing - one wave of the hand and the noise levels soar, one call for hush reduces Murrayfield to absolute silence.
I’ve been going to gigs for some 45 years, and the sheer joy of live music will, I hope, never leave me. My back may ache from standing upright for around four and half hours, my throat may be raw, but those 360 minutes in the company of tens of thousands of people make the temporary pain more than worth it.
Springsteen has shaped the soundtrack to my life. Across lockdown, I had two of his albums, Western Stars and Letter To You, on repeat as working from home became the norm. Had they been vinyl, I’d have worn new grooves in the record given the number of times I went back to track one, side one and listened all over again. Every note, every lyric.
Letter To You was as heartfelt and personal to Springsteen as any of his albums. This tour is his letter to us.
It’s a perfectly crafted. poignant, powerful set which celebrates the joy of life, the adventures it brings, and the ties that bind us together. It also reflects on growing old, and the grievous losses that, inevitably brings. This was a true celebration of the joy of living while never forgetting the pain of losing those closest to him, and by extension, us.
And, like any great storyteller, he pulls it altogether with the most moving, uplifting of finales with Tenth Avenue Freeze Out - the story of the E Street Band - with a tribute to the late Dan Federici and Clarence Clemons. The decades old footage captured their youthful journey living out their dreams on stages across the globe. It gets me every time.
Death, Springsteen concludes, is not the end as we carry our memories in our hearts, but, even as he faces up to his own mortality, his defiant roar of “I’m alive” rang loud and long on a truly remarkable night. If this was a farewell tour – at least, on this scale - it didn’t feel like it. As the man himself once said, the older it gets, the more it means.
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