The Never-Ending Bruce Springsteen Show

Jeffrey Goldberg
It’s always nice to know, after umpteen-million Springsteen shows, that you’ve managed to attend the longest one in history. Last night, here in Madrid, Springsteen played for three hours and forty-eight minutes without a break, leading one expert to label this one the longest show in a multi-decade run of extremely long shows. And extremely thrilling. This one, before 60,000 people at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu (which is apparently also the site of some sort of regularly-scheduled sporting event), was one of the best — people say (they actually do) that Springsteen loves playing Spain — even before the country got punched in the face by the burst housing bubble, which naturally caused the Tribune of the Underwater Mortgage Holder and other Associated Victims of Very Large Banks to, of course, express, repeatedly, his solidarity — and it seemed as if he would never leave the stage (he finally did, at 1:30 a.m., just after the closing of the Metro, alas.) He put on a full-blast revival show, but leaned heavily on the new album, about which I’ll write more later this week, to coincide with the release of an Atlantc piece that might interest Goldblog readers.

Two quick observations, the first courtesy of my colleague Ron Brownstein, who was at the show as well (we were in the well-populated American pundit section of the stadium), who noted, as the crowd sang back to Bruce whole sections of “The River,” that 60,000 people who don’t speak English as a first language were nevertheless singing a 32-year-old American song in a Spanish soccer stadium, and isn’t that, when you think about it, unbelievable? It was — especially considering that “The River” was not a hit at the time, and is quite a depressing song. “Born in the U.S.A.” is also a depressing song, unless you’re not listening to the words, and 60,000 people also sang back this as well to Bruce — a whole stadium of people we sometimes think of as a bit anti-American screaming “Born in the U.S.A.”

The second observation: Southside Johnny, in his current incarnation, looks a lot like Eric Alterman. We met him backstage (Johnny, not Alterman) and I swear I thought it was Alterman at first. We also met Danny DeVito, who does not look like Eric Alterman. More on all of this later.

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