40s-plus groove with Bruce

The Baltimore Sun

Bummed out because you're getting older?

Tired of looking in the mirror and seeing gray hair, wrinkles and all the other fun stuff that comes with aging?

Instead of reaching for the Grecian Formula or shelling out big bucks for Botox, do what I do: Go to a Bruce Springsteen concert.

Believe me, you'll fit right in.

In fact, if you're only in your 40s, you'll feel like a teenager compared to the rest of the crowd.

Are you kidding? They probably card you at the beer stands if you're only in your 40s.

The point is, going to see The Boss will be better for you than any antidepressant on the market.

Because you'll see so many people older than you - me, for instance, the 55-year-old guy swilling a Heineken up in the nosebleed section and attempting, however pathetically, to rock out - that by the end of the night, you'll feel like you belong on the cover of GQ or Cosmopolitan.

That's how it was again the other night at the Verizon Center in D.C., at the first of Springsteen's two sold-out gigs on his current tour to promote Magic, his new album.

Oh, sure, there were lots of young people there, because Springsteen and his E Street Band still put on the best show in rock.

But the crowd was overwhelmingly middle-aged, the kind of people who were still whining about not finding a parking space when the lights dimmed for show time.

Which is to say, it was my kind of crowd.

Lots of guys in relaxed-fit chinos and jeans, lots of women who look like they just came from Pilates class or chaperoning their kid's high school dance.

The kind of crowd that, if Springsteen were still playing his legendary 3 1/2 - and 4-hour concerts, would be yawning and looking at their watches and thinking: When's he going to wrap it up? I've got to get to bed.

Springsteen's shows on this current tour last a little more than two hours. This seems just about right for this current audience, too, which still loves to rock out, as long as things don't get too crazy and they can be home by 11.

Of course, The Boss himself is 58, although you'd never know it when he's on stage.

He brings the energy of a 25-year-old to his shows, and sings with so much passion you think his throat is going to explode.

One of the eternal mysteries is how he still has a voice after a show, never mind how he can still do back-to-back gigs as he did in D.C.

Oh, he didn't slide across the stage on his knees this time, as he did a few years ago when I saw him at the Jersey Meadowlands.

But he jumps around and swivels and struts, and still rocks hard. If I did what he did, the paramedics would be taking me away on a neckboard after five minutes. And I'd be on painkillers for a month.

As it was, I needed some kind of medication to get through the show the other night. Thirty-five years ago, I was going to concerts buzzed on beer and wine and other substances which we will not get into here.

For this Springsteen concert, I showed up with a cold, sniffing Afrin nasal spray and buzzed on Dayquil, which is not exactly the kind of buzz you're looking for in this situation.

You talk about pathetic.

You can bet when Springsteen first started touring back in the '70s and doing all those great, long shows, there weren't a whole lot of middle-aged people in the audience whining about head colds.

Or where to park the Ford Pinto, either.

Nevertheless, attending a Springsteen concert is still a joy for us middle-aged fans, and if you were there at the Verizon Center Sunday and Monday nights and saw all of us on our feet, whooping and screaming and dancing, you would know that.

When it was over, I stood up to leave and there, across the aisle, was another middle-aged guy, Tim Russert of Meet the Press fame.

Russert was smiling and shaking his head, in the manner of someone who is somewhat dazed and can't believe what he's just seen.

I am not a shy person - plus I was still buzzed on Dayquil - so I walked up to him and asked: "What did you think of the show?"

"Awesome," said Russert, still shaking his head. "Awesome."

Yeah, I told him, I thought so, too.

Then we both had to get going, as it was fast approaching bedtime.



recent columns by Kevin Cowherd at baltimoresun.com/cowherd

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