The Boss is back, but how much longer will Springsteen tour?

Back in the summer of 2023, we set off excitedly for the Murrayfield International rugby stadium in Edinburgh to see the boss a.k.a. Bruce Springsteen for the first time since the Covid pandemic.
It was a beautiful summer evening in Edinburgh and we watch the Sun slip behind the stadium stands as we waited for the band to come on stage.
To be clear, in my humble opinion, Bruce Springsteen and the East Street band is quite simply the best live act on the planet when performing at their best. The last time I had seen the band was at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester in 2015. It poured with rain but the band were at the top of their game. It was simply the finest stadium gig I’ve ever seen. they took requests from the audience including the bizarre request for “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” from a man dressed in a Santa suit.
So, sitting waiting at Murrayfield I was full of expectations. However, despite the glorious evening, the concert failed to live up to my admittedly high expectations. The performance was competent but I had expected more. Only in the last hour did the performance really take off and achieve the heights that I knew they were capable of. The whole concert was infused with a sense of melancholy and being aware of Mr. Springsteen‘s history of depression, one had to wonder if he was suffering in this way. There were no requests, and other fans noted that the setlist was shorter on this tour. It did not change from night to night as was one of the band’s previous trademarks. Of course, some of the reviews were glowing, but something was clearly not quite right. I speculated that maybe age was finally catching up with the Boss.
Only later did we discover that he was suffering from severe peptic ulcer disease and about one-third of this tour had to be cancelled as the disease became progressively worse.
However, 2024 is another year. The band announced that they were back on the road not just to replace the concerts that had been lost, but visiting new venues including the city of Sunderland in the northeast of England. I should confess to a soft spot for this city, having done a lot of work with the University there over the last 25 years. Tickets were purchased and accommodation was found albeit 20 miles down the road!
Come the morning of the show, the weather was dire and the forecast was worse. We set off and drove in torrential rain which did not stop at any point. We arrived in Sunderland, found our pre-booked parking and made our way in the rain to the Stadium of Light. We were in good time, taking our seats 80 minutes before the concert was due to start. Still the rain came down, and the wind blew, and in spite of being under cover, we were very cold and very damp. 7 o’clock, the scheduled start came and went. We watched them brush the water off the stage, I wondered if the concert would even go ahead. It turned out that there were major public transport delays because of the weather and the band finally went on stage 40 minutes late, two hours after arriving in our seats. However, the Boss and the E Street Band were back, the energy levels from the first beat were back to 2015 levels, and if I could just stop shivering, I knew this was going to be a great show. I never stopped shivering, but it was a great show. The Boss was back, the band were on top form and the show must, and did, go on. Bruce Springsteen later said that he looked out at the crowd in the rain and thought these are my people and I have to perform.
However, we were not the only ones shivering in the stands and the next day at the Ivor Novello awards Springsteen’s voice was croaky to say the least. His next stop was supposed to be in the South of France where I’ve no doubt it was much warmer and hopefully dryer. However, his voice was badly affected by an infection acquired in the rain and Medical advice and the band cancelled, the next two weeks of European gigs.
I think I’ve probably been to my last stadium gig. I’m reaching the age where I’m a bit beyond sitting and freezing and shivering for hours on end, even for a band like this. The opportunity to download the whole concert afterwards and listen on my system in the warm and the dry is a great way to relive the performance and remind myself how good the band really are. For the rest of the world, the most serious question has to be is Mr Springsteen reaching the age in his mid 70s when he can no longer keep up the punishing schedule that he sets for himself? If this is my last stadium gig and Mr Springsteen‘s last UK tour it was a marvellous musical achievement, a fabulous memory and one that serves to overcome any disappointment from the Murrayfield concert despite the best efforts of the weather.

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