4/14/2008

Tramps Like Us Relive Glory Days While Dancing in the Dark


I was going to title this piece "Old Farts Attend Rock Concert" , but the hubster said that was just too depressing. Yet all too true ; as we were parking and walking in to this, our first rock concert in nearly 25 years ( not counting a Keane concert we went to about 2 years ago, which was at Nokia Center, which looks like a theater on the inside, and the audience was way too well behaved to feel like an actual rock concert , with folks tamely sitting in their seats applauding - those Brits !) , I couldn't help but notice that 80% of all the folks parking their BMW's, Lexuses and Escalades next to our Scion xb were 40 years old or older. The remaining 20% of attendees were clearly the teen aged children of the other 80%.
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This well - heeled crowd ( not sure if the Boss drew such an upscale group because we are all old now, and making more than we did 25 years ago, or because at nearly $100 a pop for the cheap seats, all his working and middle class fans stayed home that night) chose one of two strategies , in terms of attire, to see Springsteen at AA Center in Dallas this warm spring night. A few, like my dear hubbie, chose to wear something they once owned or wore back in the late 80's, to get into the spirit of things. I tried very hard not to be embarrassed as my spousal unit came out of the bedroom, ready to roll in an acid washed jean jacket, pale jeans, and a surfer t-shirt that had seen better days. (I thought I'd thrown all those outfits out ! He must have found the bound-for-Goodwill-bag, in the back of the closet, and taken back all those clothes of his that had been consigned to leave our home.) Most of us, however, either threw all those golden oldies out, or have , like me, gained a few pounds in the intervening years , and just dressed in our ordinary everyday clothes. Expensive haircuts, shoes, and handbags belied the fact that we were once hippies, full of contempt for The Man, and all those material things that He stood for.
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Going to a rock concert is so exciting, and yet many, I am sure, had doubts they could handle it at midlife - like myself. Sure, I've been to dozens of them in my youth. Once spent an entire day at TexJam, frying myself all day on the field at the Cotton Bowl, painting baby oil on my skin and drinking Southern Comfort while listening to Aerosmith, Van Halen, Blue Oyster Cult, and Hart. Spent the early 80' s at a variety of new wave and punk concerts - Ramones, Gary Numan, the Judys, B-52's, the GoGo's, Eurythmics. Also a big jazz fan, and have been known to frequent smokey dark dives listening to BB King, Muddy Waters, both of the Marsalis' brothers. I've been to several Springsteen concerts, as well, back in college days , when the Boss was young and nubile, before he became all "swole" and buff. The entire week before this particular event, I'd been angsting about it to my co-workers, trying to figure out how late I'd be out, if I'd need a day off from work to recover. (It was on a Sunday night , and I did .) Long gone are the days when one could attend a rock concert, dance in the aisles the entire time, go to an all night diner afterwards to discuss it all with friends, drive to Galveston to watch the sun come up , and still attend classes/work the next day. Those were the days.
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Let it be noted that I had to beg, plead, harass and threaten hubby dear to even buy the tickets to see Springsteen on his stop through Dallas. I finally convinced him to do it as a bday treat for himself. Yet while we were there, hubby leaned over to me, gave me a big hug , and said, "I'm glad you made me do this." Those moments are rare, and I treasured it.
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The Boss was known in the old days for giving awesome value for the money- 3 hour concerts without break were common. Even now, at the age of 58, he sang for over 2 1/2 hours non-stop. Towards the end, he was a little hoarse, but who wouldn't be. Some of the members of the E-street band looked a bit pooped. The review in the Dallas Morning News said, to paraphrase, he showed us once again why he's the Boss. The energy was there, the excitement, the joy of the old familiar tunes mixed with music from his latest album. Nearly all the 15,000 seats in the AA center ( where the Mavs and the Stars play) were sold out, and about 1000 stalwart fans stood the entire time in " the pit". ( Real test of loyalty, considering how enfeebled we all are, how many folks were there in walkers, wheelchairs. God bless us baby boomers......will we still be going to rock concerts when we're 80?) The cutest thing was a play on one of his oldest shticks.......Springsteen always finds some buxom hottie to bring up on stage when he sings "Dancing in the Dark". (That was how Courtney Cox got her start.) But this time, the arms reaching up to him from the front row of the pit belonged to a gaggle of 9 year olds, brought to the concert by their moms. So for his traditional bring-an-audience-member-up-to-dance-with -him manoeuvre, he invited one of the 9 year olds. As she clambered up, so did all her little friends. Suddenly Bruce was like the Pied Piper, leading a conga line of a dozen little girls, laughing and dancing. It was all too cute - I felt myself get a little verklempt. My how rock concerts have changed.
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As the magical evening wound up, all the 40 somethings waved their cell phones in the dark when the Boss sang "Badlands" and "Born to Run" . This being the non-smoking equivalent of waving your lighter, to show approval and solidarity. I was surrounded by frantically dancing folks, who like me, would all need a couple of Advil the next day to recover......except for 2 kids, about the age of my sons, sitting a few seats down. They were boredly playing video games on their cell phones.

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