I came for you, for you, I came for you


by Steve Duin for the Oregonian

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bruce takes requests.

For the first two hours of Friday night's reunion with the E Street Band at the Rose Garden, an intrepid fan held up an over sized Oregon license plate reading "JNG LND," begging Springsteen to take one more stab at romance and disappear with the faithful down Flamingo Lane.

After opening his encore with "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," Bruce pulled the sign from the crowd, turned to the band and held it aloft, informing pianist Roy Bittan there'd been a change of plans and warning Clarence Clemons to warm up the saxophone.

And with that we were off again, the midnight gang assembled, rendezvousing 'neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light.

Springsteen and the band lit up Portland with a show that featured one of his classic greetings from Asbury Park, "For You," and convinced just about everyone in the house he came all this way especially for them, and for them only.

Danny Federici didn't make the trip, and Bruce's wife, Patti Scialfa, was back in New Jersey. "We have the three teenagers now, so the fort must be guarded," Springsteen said. "Just as I was leaving, the pot cookies were coming out of the oven. Sent a few over here, it looks like."

But guitarists Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren were in their glory, drummer Max Weinberg was at his locomotive best, and Clemons had just enough energy to drag that sax to center stage and bring out the best of "Jungleland," "Radio Nowhere," and "Badlands."

That's saying something, given the sense of theater at the Rose Garden. Springsteen was an hour late reaching the stage, but once he arrived, every song felt original, every line heartfelt, every musical bridge a tribute to the band's ability to change direction on the run.

Like "Jungleland," "For You," Springsteen acknowledged, was an answer to a special request from the crowd. For three girls from Lake Oswego, so was the scene that played out backstage after the concert.

In her college application essay, my daughter, Lauren, wrote about last summer's raid, with several friends and cousins, on Springsteen's Jersey compound in hopes of meeting the guy whose music she's grown up with.

Because the group ran into Bruce's black poodle and a security guard, but not the rock star, I sent the essay to Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager, and asked if there was any chance Lauren could meet Bruce in Portland.

Amazingly, there was. As the dust settled and the echoes died on "American Land," Jerry Fox Jr., the head of security, met a group of 30 of us and led us downstairs to Bruce's dressing room.

He was standing in the hall, still full of energy, catching up with old friends, greeting new ones, in no hurry to say goodbye to anyone. When Lauren and her two friends, Rachael and Leila, clustered around him for a photograph, he gathered them in again after the flash went off and requested a second take.

And when the girls mentioned Lake Oswego -- where Bruce was married to his first wife, Julianne Phillips, a model and actress in the 1980s and 1990s -- the name of the town sent Bruce lurching into an old vaudeville routine, intoning, "Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch . . ."

He was so gracious. He spent five minutes with the girls, talking about Lauren's essay, his dogs and his No Trespassing signs. And when Lauren mentioned one song he didn't play, her lone regret of the evening, Bruce said, "When you come to the next concert, just let someone know the black-poodle girl is coming and she wants to hear 'Thunder Road.' "

I suspect my daughter, like thousands of others who spent the night with Bruce, is listening to it now.


Kristen said...

Steve Duin lives down the street from us. His daughter Lauren brought our cat back to us when she escaped from the house once.

Bruce! Fists! ...

Maryann said...

I'm surprised Steve didn't mention the fists in his article...

Had such good times with you two this weekend. xoxoxoxo/armguitar/xoxoxox

Kristen said...