Regular followers of So Much Great Music will recall my recent tale of the triumphant Bruce Springsteen @ UBS Arena concert, and the months-long internalized debate over whether to see him at all that preceded it. Much of that mental wrangling – which basically boiled down to ‘whether to simply retain the memories of Bruce at the peak of his powers, or to leap at the opportunity to see him for, let’s face it, what could be the last go-round’ – was done with my long-time friend Filip (aka Verner), a fellow life-long devotee.

At one point in our email exchanges, Filip summarized the conflict, and his anguished conclusion to it, writing:  “His age, his age, his age…I can’t bring myself to go see him now. Broadway solo introspection and chatting with Obama is exactly what he should be doing now.” I generally agreed.

However, when presented with an opportunity from my friend Rosey – with whom I had seen my first Bruce concert, and for what would be his 100th – I plunged back in, and my phenomenal evening at that revelatory show (as detailed here) seemed sufficient to push Filip as well. “Your experience and how you described it convinced me to abandon my doubts and fears and to go for it! Just got to take one moment into my hands,” he wrote, closing with a lyrical reference any Springsteen fan worth his salt would appreciate.

Two days later, Filip, a resident of Riga, Latvia, followed up with this brief missive: “May 30, Edinburgh.”

Here then, is the note I was thrilled to receive from Filip just following that Edinburgh show, which I’m happy to present here as another guest post to SMGM.

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Thank you, Billy, for encouraging me to go see Bruce! Thank you!

I could end my email right here, because there is nothing that I can further write that you don’t already know and don’t already feel.

The man is a GOD.

Okay, right at the issue – he obviously knows his limits and maintains his self-respect. No running, just walking. No jumping on pianos, no sliding across the stage. No crowd surfing.

He made me (almost) shed passionate tears anyway!

3 hours, almost exact, 29 songs.

The only one that stumped me when he started to play it was ‘Johnny 99,’ for me surprising to be in the set. 5 from Born to Run, 5 from Darkness, 5 from Born in the USA.

Not the standard tour promoting a new album, as he did just ‘Nightshift’ from his latest (but the t-shirt I bought was the yellow-on-black car image one for “Only the Strong Survive“).

‘Death to my Hometown’ was cool because it sounded like a Scottish folk song, so perfect for Edinburgh.

Close to 70,000 in the Murrayfield Rugby Stadium. Gotta admit, 80% must have been our generation. But my son Aleksis (age 23 and not a Bruce fan per se) really appreciated what he saw and heard – at the end again asking me “How old is Bruce, really?” Aleksis remarked to me that Bruce did not let up for the whole 3 hours; thank you, son, for that recognition! Aleksis also pointed out to me that it was very cool that unlike all other megastars Bruce did not use any special effects or crazy lighting or stage tricks – as Aleksis said, Bruce let his rock songs and his incredible band do the show “without any bullshit.”

During the concert in Amsterdam which was previous to Edinburgh, there are clips on social media of Bruce tripping and falling when walking up some stairs back to the stage from the audience. In my show, after the last song with the band taking its bows, one of the E Street guys (now I am not sure who) ran down to the audience and then exaggeratedly kept tripping while coming up the steps back to center stage. Bruce shouted “Looks familiar” and he and the whole band were cracking up. Bruce, always humble and with good humor!

The Rising is the album that I brainwashed my kids with. It came out when they were all small and helpless having to listen to whatever CD I chose. I ALWAYS played it in the car when driving them someplace. Although none are Bruce fans, all 3 know ‘Empty Sky’ perfectly, because that’s the one I would sing to them while trying to put them to bed at night. It was great to hear ‘The Rising’ live!

Bruce spoke to the audience much less than he used to, but intuitively I get it. His set is driving, driving all through the night! Plus, he probably can’t tell any stories anymore that everyone hasn’t already heard.

His tale of George (from Bruce’s original band The Castiles), and also the monologue about death before ‘I’ll See You in my Dreams,’ and elsewhere his remarks about mortality also made sense to me given his and my stage of life. It is Bruce being honest and speaking truth as always. We all remember far back when Mary’s dress swayed, but we all are now losing close ones every year as time marches on.

Bruce’s energy, devotion, strength, dedication, and love for his fans is unmatched!! The E Street Band, just one whole organism!

I will never forget this concert!

Filip, Aleksis, and Bruce in Edinburgh

Filip’s caption: “Aleksis with me at the Bruce concert in Edinburgh. It was incredible! I was just as thrilled by this concert as I was by his concerts that I went to 20 years ago, and by his concerts that I went to 40 years ago!”

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In retrospect the choice, for both of us, was painfully obvious. As another friend, Messiah, wrote to me: “Savor it while you can – there will never be another Bruce.”

Let’s close with the title track from Filip’s favorite brainwashing album, The Rising. No high quality videos to be found from Edinburgh as yet, so we’ll use a 2002 clip from another European destination, Barcelona, Spain. The energy from both the stage and the audience is astounding. And it sure is great to see Clarence up there.