At the Raleigh show, on Thursday, April 24, I met a bunch of very cool people, including three women who became my tour family. I am pretty sure that I will be friends with them for the rest of my life.
I actually first had contact with them online, through the by-the-seat-of-my-pants pre-tour “marketing” that I was trying to do for this website.
Liz found me through the Facebook group, “Calling All Bruce Springsteen Fans,” where I had posted about my journey and blogging plans. She emailed me privately to ask if she and her friend could catch a ride with me from Raleigh to Atlanta. They were coming from Israel for some shows. Of course, I said yes. I figured even if I didn’t like them very much, it would only be a 5 hour drive and nice to have some company and someone to split the gas costs with.
Brit responded to my post on The Promised Land that invited fans to get in touch if they were willing to let me interview them. She came to this blog and filled out the contact form in the upper right. (A few people did, actually, and let me tell you that made me SO HAPPY.)
So…it turned out that Liz and Maya got to Raleigh the day before the show. I ended up having dinner with them. From the start, we liked each other. Well, I liked them. I am assuming they liked me. We had burgers in downtown Raleigh at Chuck’s. [Short aside: if you go to Raleigh and you like burgers, eat here!]
The next day, I headed off to the arena to get my wristband but got sidetracked getting something to eat and seeing some waitresses I’d met (see this post for more on that synchronicity). So, I got there a little late and got my wristband, meeting Jackie the security lady in the process. She was very cool.
By the time I got my wristband, it was about 3. Brit and I had been texting and planning to meet, and so we did, in the parking lot. I interviewed her (such as it was) and photographed her.
More about the interview coming soon in a separate post. But we connected and had a good time talking, and by the time the lottery came around, although we were not together in line, I was texting with Brit as well as Liz and Maya.
The short story is that none of us made it into the pit, but we got in at the front of the rest of the GA section and I ended up with one spot on the second rail (at the “ramp stage” behind the pit section). Bruce can come down off the stage, around the side of the pit and up on that ramp when and if he feels like it. Although there was some jockeying for position, overall, everyone was sharing and talking, and we had a fine time meeting the people around us before the show started. I was beginning to see that this happened before every show – and then the lights come up and everyone usually scatters, with or without a goodbye.
Raleigh was a great night. The show was good. Nothing spectacular, but Bruce was in his usual high energy form and we all were excited that he came to the back a bunch of times, and I even got to touch his leg a few times. Having him sing right above us was pretty spectacular and that night was the closest I had come to him yet. However, I don’t have any good pics of him from that show. I just hadn’t gotten the hang of shooting his fast action with the iPhone yet, plus when he came by, I just wanted to LOOK at him and soak him up. Not try to take pics.
It was also a sweet night because his daughter, Jess, was graduating from Duke and she and her friends were in the audience. Patti was with the band that night (I think it was the first show I’d seen her at this tour) and Bruce dedicated Growing Up to Jess, invited her friends to sing with him (what song was that?) and he danced with Jess on Dancing in the Dark. (Which of course bummed out all the women in the front who had hoped he would pick them for that special dance.)
Anyway…I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but at the end of the last encore (Thunder Road), the four of us didn’t scatter. Brit, Liz and Maya told me they had decided that the we should get wristbands as a group for the rest of shows we would all be at on this tour and see the shows together. I was kind of surprised, because although friends had suggested that I would meet friends and travel with other fans on tour, I’m something of a loner and I didn’t really think it would happen. But I said that sounded good to me!
We left the floor and walked out together. It was like we’d been friends for years, even though we’d all just met and really didn’t know each other at all. Something about sharing this very specific love for Bruce and his music, and also something about the four of us and our personalities, made us just gel. It is something that often happened when I was younger, seeing Dead shows, or traveling. But now that I’m 50, it hasn’t happened in a loooong time.
By the time we got outside, I was exhausted. The three of them (young whippersnappers) wanted to go around to the back of the arena and see if they could catch sight of Bruce leaving the venue. I said my goodbyes, with plans to pick up Liz and Maya the next morning for the journey to Atlanta and to meet Brit and her husband, Chris, in Atlanta in two days for the next show. I told them I didn’t think they’d see him, but as I waved goodbye and turned toward my car, I thought to myself, “Oh, I bet they DO find him!” It turned out they did, and he waved at them as he got into a car and was whisked away. It felt like a shining omen for the rest of the adventure.