A little gray, fans still love Springsteen


WENT TO SEE Springsteen the other night in D.C., and we had a great time, if you don't count the impromptu performance by Bruce Jr. in Section 402.

Bruce Jr. was the nickname we bestowed on this 30-something guy two rows in front of us who insisted on bellowing along with each song the band played.

Apparently, the guy was under the delusion that we had all plunked down 75 bucks a ticket to hear him sing.

Finally, after a few songs, the people seated next to Bruce Jr. told him to shut up, and he pretty much did, concentrating on one Big Gulp Bud after another until he achieved a state of blissful narcolepsy.

Aside from the incident with Bruce Jr., we had a great time, although I am afraid to look at a bank statement right now.

See, that's the thing about attending a rock concert these days: you have to get a second job on an assembly line to afford it.

In addition to the two tickets, which my wife and I bought for our anniversary, we had to shell out $20 to park the car.

Yes! Twenty bucks!

Look, if you charge someone 20 bucks to park, you might as well be wearing a stocking mask and waving a gun.

Because you're robbing that person, plain and simple.

And the robbery continued when we arrived at the MCI Center and went to a concession stand and ordered a couple of beers, at $5.50 a pop.

So before the Boss even hits the stage -- before he even arrives at his dressing room, probably -- I'm out 181 bucks and thinking about holding up a convenience store.

The great thing about going to a Springsteen concert, though, is that if you're a fat, gray-haired guy like me, you fit right in.

Because the joint is crawling with fat, gray-haired guys.

Everywhere you look there are guys in golf shirts and Sansabelt slacks and tassled loafers without socks lurching to their feet and screaming "Bru-u-u-ce!" into the darkness.

Everywhere you look there are women who look like PTA chairpersons dancing joyously in the aisles, women with perfectly sculpted hair, like the great Lesley Stahl, who whip out cell phones between songs and punch in numbers with manicured fingers and chirp: "Honey, everything OK? Finish your homework?"

Hey, there are people in walkers at a Springsteen concert.

Let's face it: if I went to to a Dave Matthews concert, I'd feel like Walter Matthau, OK?

I'd feel like I should be on the set of "Grumpy Old Men III," sitting on a park bench with a shawl draped across my shoulders.

But Springsteen fans have aged gracefully, it says here, and so has the Boss himself, who, unbelievably, turns 50 in two weeks.

Plus he's not exactly backed up by kids on this reunion tour. I'm sure if you went through the wallets of the guys in the E Street Band, you'd find a few AARP cards, too.

Speaking of the band, it's my duty to inform you that long-time sidekick Clarence Clemons, who was once known as the Big Man, must now be referred to as the Huge Man.

This is because Clarence has well, there's no other way to say it put on a few pounds.

A few dozen pounds, from the looks of it.

I don't exactly know what Clarence has been up to since the E Street Band broke up some years ago. But one thing's for sure: he's nudged his way into a few buffet lines since then.

Oh, the Big Man still plays the sax brilliantly, still makes that thing wail like a wounded animal in the night.

But somebody has to take him aside and say: "Clarence, think about a salad after the show, OK?"

Springsteen, on the other hand, looks trim and fit, although he has some kind of Hair Club for Men thing happening up top, if you catch my drift.

To give you an idea what kind of shape this guy's in, though, at one point in his act, he jumped 5 feet off the ground from a set of risers and bounced up as if it were nothing.

If I tried that, they'd be fitting me for a full-body cast a few minutes later.

All in all, if you don't count the $400 or whatever it cost me, it was a wonderful night. Bruce sang all the songs the people had come to hear: "10th Avenue Freezeout" and "Badlands" and "Hungry Heart" as well as "On the Street," "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road."

At one point, those of us in Section 402 had a bit of a scare when it looked as if Bruce Jr. was coming to life and about to give us an encore.

But we shot him some dirty looks, and he tumbled back into his seat and went back to his Big Gulp Bud instead, probably thinking through the haze in his head: "Nobody appreciates talent anymore."

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