It’s Springsteen time again
140,000 Irish music fans can’t be wrong. As Bruce Springsteen limbers up for his five-date Irish tour this month, fanboy Jim Carroll looks at his enduring appeal
Springsteen and the men and women of The E Street Band will be playing shows in Limerick, Cork, Belfast and Kilkenny, where they’ll end their current European tour with a two-night run in Nowlan Park. Photograph: Matt Kent/Getty Images
Hey, what’s that sound? Can you hear it? There it is again. What is it? Bruuuuuuuuuuuce! That’s the sound of 140,000 music fans yelling – well, yodelling – in delight at the fact that Bruce Springsteen is coming to town again. Over the past decade, a gig by Springsteen with one of his many bands has become an annual must-see for Irish music fans. He comes, he plays his heart out and the audience go away thrilled to bits and feeling a little better about themselves and their lives.
This year, Springsteen and the men and women of The E Street Band will be playing shows in Limerick, Cork, Belfast and Kilkenny, where they’ll end their current European tour with a two-night run in Nowlan Park. In a summer when sold-out shows are far from the norm and big acts are having trouble shifting tickets for their gigs here, the fact that a man who hasn’t had a bona-fide hit in decades has sold 140,000 tickets – and could easily shift tens of thousands more – is quite something
He’s played Belfast before, but it will be his first visits to the other cities on the itinerary. The fact that Springsteen’s hitting new ’hoods freshens things up because it won’t be just another night in Dublin 4 at the RDS, no matter how special they’ve been of late. There are giddy expectations already of what lies ahead in the coming fortnight. Anything could – and probably will – happen on this trip around the highways and byways. Bruce Springsteen is playing in your house, your house. All together now : Bruuuuuuuuuuuce!
Before we go any further, here’s the declaration of interest: I’m one of the faithful. I’m a Springsteen fan of long standing who can bore you to tears talking about how albums such as Nebraska and Darkness On the Edge of Town changed my life. I’m the fan who got the bug listening to The River, dissecting the lyric sheet and having his imagination fired up by what he read.
Even though I’ve developed a loathing in recent years for the open-air shows that now punctuate the summer – Irish fields should really only be used for cows and hurling – I’ll make an exception every time for Springsteen. Because, when all is said and done, there’s no show like a Bruce show.
But even the most hardcore fans will admit to being a little taken aback by the strident fondness for Springsteen exhibited by Irish music fans in recent times. He’s always had a strong bond with his fanbase here, one that has existed since his first Irish appearance at Slane Castle in 1985 on the Born In the USA tour. That was the show that demonstrated that Springsteen was on his way to superstar status in Europe as well as America, the show where the intensity of the crowd as they pushed towards the stage rattled even the singer.