Early on at the Wembley concert came this rare gem: Save My Love, an out-take from the Darkness sessions in the 70s which was only finally released a few years back. It’s an easy contender for the sweetest moment of any of the shows I saw. The recording of the song had never stood out for me before until I heard its beauty in the flesh. Its selection was completely spontaneous – as Michael Hann put it in his review of the night, “it is apparent early in the show that something unusual is in store for the evening, because after only three songs, Springsteen is prowling the front rows of the audience, harvesting signs for requests”.
And it also captured something else that Hann mentions, which sums things up perfectly:
The eternal miracle of Springsteen is that he never appears to be faking it […]
Check the sincerity and variety of his expressions as he delivers the first three lines of the song. That’s what Hann means.
Another thing to note about Springsteen shows. The general standing area on the pitch is always segregated: a Golden Circle, or ‘pit’, is cordoned off with barriers for the first two thousand fans or so at the very front of the stage. You receive a wristband so you can exit and enter that area at will without losing your place. The main advantage of this system, though, is that to secure entry you really need to arrive three hours at the very latest before the gates open (which itself is another two hours before the concert starts). That ensures you will be surrounded by loyal fans who will pay the band the respect they deserve, bouncing to every party song, miming silently to the slow ballads. It is worth the queuing simply to avoid the general chit-chatter of the drunk casual fans further back, nevermind the heightened intimacy of being so close to the action. You can see the utter focus and devotion of those in the pit towards the end of this clip. I appreciated it most when I took seats for a change with my family in Dublin last summer. The advantage was that, when the encore arrived and everyone around me finally sprung to life, it was liberating to eventually be able to stand up and participate, and the final songs were consequently even sweeter. But most of the concert was spent watching a panoramic view of the pitch, on which only the front few rows were constantly enraptured with what was happening. To be anywhere else in a Springsteen show now is to be out of place.