Tuesday 25 June 2024

Bruce Springsteen live in Belfast May 2024

I have lived in the United Kingdom for several years, but only in England. I finally visited Scotland in 2004, then Cardiff in 2009 for a U2 concert. So the only part of the UK that I hadn't been to until last month was Northern Ireland. So when Bruce announced his 2024 tour with the two opening dates in Cardiff and Belfast I made my travel arrangements in order to fix this. What's more in between the two concerts I would go to the only major city in England that I had yet to visit: Liverpool.

So, as I have already mentioned in my previous post, after I had attended the opening date in Cardiff, I took a bus to Liverpool and two days later I took a plane from Liverpool to Belfast. The first time I crossed over to the other island: Ireland!

Now there was a major difference with the Cardiff concert. It was not held in a stadium but in an open space (Boucher Playing Fields) with one ticket price for everyone. That meant that after many years I would claim a place in the pit! And even though I missed the first roll call after my arrival, I got a very good number on the next one. Not only that, but I ended up next to my Welsh friend who had also been to the Cardiff concert even though he got his number in the previous roll call. What I realized after this process was this: When the concert is in a stadium, with FOS tickets sold, those lucky enough to secure one will start the roll calls several days before, so someone who arrives on the previous day doesn't have a chance of getting a good number. When there is a concert like this one in Belfast, where everyone can get to the pit, nobody bothers! There were people who arrived on the same day and got a good number. Go figure...


On the day of the concert everything went smoothly during the final roll call and we started getting in the fields. During this process, we heard Bruce and the band begin a soundcheck (mainly "This Hard Land") and we realized that by peering over the fence, we could actually see them! They saw us as well and acknowledged us. 


Then we finally got in, secured our places, Bruce's sister Pam came on stage and took photos of us and finally all we had to do was wait. (The waiting part was made easier by reading the "Bruce" biography by Peter Ames Carlin which I had brought with me).


The band members started coming up on stage one by one with Bruce being the last one. This time the beginning of the concert was more straightforward with "No Surrender". "Lonesome Day" was once again there and this time he didn't just play "Ghosts" he also played the title track from the "Letter To You" album. (He had done a similar thing last year at Hyde Park. He played both songs on the first night, but only "Ghosts" on the second one). The other good news was that "Better Days" seemed to be becoming a regular and the even better ones was that the same thing seemed to be happening with "If I Was A Priest"! But the best news of all was that unlike last year, there seemed to be more changes to the setlist as well as acknowledgment of some requests. In short, the old Bruce was BACK! A look at the pre-written setlist which someone managed to get, revealed that "Pay Me My Money Down" was also planned for the night (and this would have been quite appropriate for a concert in Ireland), but it wasn't to be. I would have normally been gutted by that, I mean I love that song and I would have loved to hear it on Irish soil, but if its absence meant that we would hear "If I Was The Priest" again, then that's fine with me.


And then came the time for the phone calls. Now, each time I go to a Bruce concert, I always call two people in two different countries (You know who you are S & A!). If I manage to get an internet signal (not so easy when you're in the exact same place with thousands of other people) I call them using Viber, in order to add vision to the phone call experience). I usually pick a "fast" song during which I make my phone call. However, when it was time for my second call Bruce had already gone into his "slow" section and I didn't want to delay it any longer. So I picked "Backstreets". A was excited to hear it and started singing along. When the band got to the end of the song with the quiet section that goes "we swore forever friends on the backstreets..." my friend was a bit faster than them and she went ahead and sang "...until the end". Everyone was quiet at that point and as a result everybody heard her. Suddenly I realized that everybody was looking at me and at my phone! "She is singing all the way from Greece!" I told the person beside me. And then I thought "what the ****, everybody heard us now and since technology brings us closer together let's go all the way!" So I turned my phone around in a 360 degree turn around the pit all the while shouting "Everybody, say hello to A from Greece!" You can imagine what happened then. Everybody was cheering and waving at my phone!

The main set ended, once again with "Thunder Road" and then we got to the encore with "Land Of Hope And Dreams". No "Born In The USA" this time, but we got "Glory Days" instead. And of course everything finished as always with the second encore with Bruce saying goodbye to each member of the band individually and then played "I'll See You In My Dreams". It was a great night and I had almost forgotten that during one of the early songs in the set Bruce wasn't able to hit a high note. This happened twice and I started having nightmares about Bono who had to abandon a concert at its beginning because of his voice. However Bruce went and had a drink which was possibly tea at the side of the stage and then he was OK. So I forgot all about it. But then later during the tour he completely lost his voice and had to cancel several dates. How lucky I was, having chosen the first two dates of the tour!

01. No Surrender
02. Lonesome Day
03. Prove It All Night
04. Ghosts
05. Letter To You
06. Better Days
07. The Promised Land
08. Spirit In The Night
09. Hungry Heart
10. Nightshift
11. My City Of Ruins
12. Last Man Standing
13. Backstreets
14. Because The Night
15. If I Was The Priest
16. She's The One
17. Wrecking Ball
18. The Rising
19. Badlands
20. Thunder Road
21. Land Of Hope And Dreams
22. Born To Run
23. Bobby Jean
24. Glory Days
25. Dancing In The Dark
26. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
27. Twist And Shout
Encore 2:
28. I'll See You In My Dreams

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