Rocking with Bruce in NZ

One week ago, we were THIS CLOSE to The Boss. In Auckland, NZ.  It was AWESOME!

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Travelling over 7,000 miles from Seattle to NZ to celebrate Thom’s 60th birthday with Bruce, we enjoyed a week on Waiheke Island off the coast of Auckland before the big day.  On Saturday we boarded the ferry to the mainland, picked up our tickets in Auckland and made our way to Mt. Smart Stadium.  Along the way we dropped off a bag at our roadside motel, hastily booked when we discovered the damn ferry didn’t do a late night run to the island and we would no doubt be stranded sleeping on a ferry terminal bench if we didn’t take action.  Those that have been to a Bruce Springsteen concert know that he has great energy and can play.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG. When we saw Bruce in LA and Seattle last year, he played for four hours straight.  Which is awesome if you don’t have a deadline to cross the ocean to your lovely airbnb cottage.  Not daring to leave the concert early, we decided to grab a few hours rest at the “no tell motel” before going back to the island the morning after.  Wise we are.

For this concert, Bruce had two opening acts which was unusual because he usually works alone with no opener.  Arriving just in time to be one of the first 500 in line, we got the coveted pink bracelets and #’s written on our hands.  The NZ stadium crew were very organized, walking in 100 fans at a time in order to avoid chaos.  We got to know some lovely people while we waited in the shade of the trees outside the gates.  Thom was even interviewed for a NZ podcast.  While Thom’s sign didn’t get Bruce’s attention, it did solicit lots of comments from the crowd as did his “Icky Trump” protest shirt.  My hubby-always ready to discuss politics-is not shy about voicing his opinions.  Luckily this crowd was very anti-Trump so many lively discussions ensued when they asked us, “WTF-how did you elect that wanker?”

Finally inside, we were about three rows from the front of the stage.  WOWOWOW!  As many times as Thom has seen Bruce, this was the closest he would get.  Ever.  Fitting for a journey as long as ours.  When interlopers without #’s on their hands tried to cut in front of us, the friends we made standing around us including a NZ policeman, joined voices in protests and summoned security to move them behind us.  One entitled lady thinking she could just cut in front of me was cussed out by Thom and others, with the cop counselling Thom not to touch her to avoid getting kicked out of the concert. Wouldn’t that have been awful?  But, properly restrained but still giving her what for, Thom did not get ejected.  Standing firm, we “policed” our area and made sure we kept up close and personal with Bruce.

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The openings acts, Jet and Marlon Williams, were good but everyone had come to see Bruce and the E Street Band.  Finally the 40,000+ fans got him as he strolled out in his trademark checkered shirt and belted out Darlington County.  Steve Van Zandt was of course his usual crazy self with his head scarf and floral pants.  When Bruce declared it was “ass-shakin time” they turned and let their bums do the talking.  Impressive.  Interesting, the crowd in the stands were seated and fairly quiet unlike the standing mob on the floor where we were.  Bruce eventually ran to the sides and got them engaged but they were definitely more reserved than the US crowds that danced for 4 hours straight last year when we were in LA and Seattle.

Next to us all night was a couple from Italy who had planned their vacation to NZ to see Bruce at Christchurch and Auckland.  Dedicated.  Another woman also interviewed with Thom for the podcast had taken a 36 hour flight from India.  Crazy.  The gentleman in front of me helping with crowd control in our group was from Poland.  Everyone had stories to tell about Bruce and the impact he and his music had on their lives, making it easy to bond quickly with complete strangers.  I will always remember them fondly.

While he sang hit after hit, the moving rendition of “41 Hands” brought tears to my eyes as I saw everyone raising their hands and feeling the heartfelt lyrics so relevant to the tensions we are all feeling today in our world, whether in the US or NZ.  The Boss ended his three hour jam with an acoustic version of Thunder Road.  Brilliant.  The concert of a lifetime.

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Bruce and E Street Band say good-bye to Auckland and the end of their world tour.

 

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Bruce ends the show with Thunder Road.

 

 

 

 

Seattle to New Zealand-our 24 hour odyssey

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The view from our ferry as we leave Auckland for Waiheke Island

You only turn 60 once so off to the South Pacific we went to celebrate Thom’s birthday.  And while New Zealand is a dreamy once-in-a-lifetime trip for sure, seeing Bruce Springsteen play the last concert on his Summer Tour in Auckland will make it even more memorable.  Friday night our trip began heading off halfway round the world to see THE BOSS.

Monday at 1 p.m. our luggage finally caught up with us.  Oh Air Canada!  You are friendly, polite folk but damn it don’t make me start my vacation without a toothbrush.  I joked with the Air Canada dude at the airport when we checked in that it would be a miracle if our bags actually stayed with us through 3 flights from the US to Canada to Sydney to Auckland.  And they didn’t.  Thom says it’s my fault.  I jinxed it.  Oops.  No more joking about luggage.  More prayers and good karma next time.  I’ve already decided to carry-on only to India and Germany next month when I travel for business.  It’s not cool to go to meetings and be a rumpled smelly mess.

Overall the flights didn’t suck too badly and we got to catch up on our movie watching.  I finally got to see Bridget Jones’ Baby which had me laughing out loud on the plane. I noticed the gal next to me also watched it and was laughing too so I didn’t feel so bad.  I also finally had time to check out Jane The Virgin and it was quite funny as well.  Thom took a different path and watched all the dark, violent shows I would never watch with him.  The airplane food was not good as expected but when you are captive for 18+ hours, you get hungry so even the mystery meat sandwich goes down with some free hooch, though I did take the barf bag with me as I exited the plane because you just never know when what goes down comes back up.

Auckland's landmark reminds me of our Space Needle
Auckland’s landmark reminds me of our Space Needle

After spending quality time with baggage customer service to track down our missing bags that decided they liked Australia and didn’t want to make the next flight to NZ, we hopped onto the bus to Auckland to get our ferry to Waiheke Island.  As we neared our destination and were the only passengers left on the bus, our driver asked us, “Did you vote for Trump?”  Spontaneously without hesitation I yelled, “OH. HELL.NO.”  He laughed and asked us how on earth did Americans elect this “nut”.  Thom tried to explain to him about the uninformed, racist, disengaged voters who supported Trump but basically we apologized for the embarrassment of our country to the world.  Well, that didn’t take long!  We’re on vacation running away from the political chaos  at home and we are asked to justify it.  Temporary insanity and suspension of all things right and good by millions of people but not the majority of citizens?  Yep, pretty much.

Thom celebrating his birthday relaxing in a beanbag on the beach
Thom celebrating his birthday relaxing in a beanbag on the beach

The luggage finally arrived at our arbnb beach cottage after multiple calls to the airline.  We refreshed and made ourselves  presentable to walk, yes walk, to the winery next door.  Conveniently, we are staying on Waiheke Island or the “Isle of Wine” as it is now called because, on this tiny rock outcropping an hour by boat from Auckland with 8,000 residents, there are 20 wineries.  So much wine, so little time.  Cheers!

Hangin’ with Bruce…Truly The Boss!

“This will be the best 4 seconds of my life.”  Really???  My husband made this pronouncement this morning in advance of the upcoming meet and greet with Bruce.  What about…hmmm…the birth of your children, marrying me, etc.?  “Okay, the fourth best 4 seconds of my life.”  Better.  “What AM I going to wear?”  Oh, Thom, settle down.  Bruce is just a normal guy.  “No.  He.  Is.  Not.  He is THE BOSS.”  Okay, I get it and so the day began.

Social media is powerful and Thom and I are wired almost every hour of the day so we found out quickly that Bruce Springsteen was going to make Seattle one of the few stops on his book tour to promote his new autobiography, Born to Run. WOW.  At exactly 10 a.m. several weeks ago, we both were logged in to Elliott Bay Book Company with fingers poised and pounced on tickets (cost of the book) to get a ticket to meet Bruce, get a photo and a pre-signed book.  Sold out in several minutes, tickets were later going for up to $600 on StubHub and wannabes were circling the lines today to meet Bruce begging to buy tickets or be the “plus one” for a ticket holder to meet Bruce.  No way!

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Thom making friends in line

I have to say that Elliott Bay Book Company had a big challenge and they did an awesome job communicating the rules often and in advance of the big event, as well as being staffed well, organized and friendly on the big day.  We arrived at 10 a.m., 2 hours prior to the start time of the event and promptly got into a line with hundreds of others already lined up.  We promptly fell into conversation with a lovely couple, Ollie and Fletcher, who had come up from Northern California and Tacoma.  Fletcher told us stories of her dad’s love for Bruce and how, though her car had just been stolen and she was busy finishing up her degree, they had made time for this experience. Their dream is for Ollie to retire from her job and stay home to raise the kids they hope to have.  They were lovely and I hope their dreams come true.

Finally, as the line moved forward, we got our blue wristbands and hands stamped in the bookstore and moved to another line, the “blue” line.  By this time, we were two hours in and nature called. so off I ran to the nearest coffee shop while Thom held our place in line and made new friends, some old rockers who knew every Bruce song.  Making it back in time to continue our journey towards Bruce, Thom was still in an altered state, so excited to meet his rock hero.  We debated what to say in our 4 seconds with Bruce.   Thom settled on thanking him for writing the songs that made up the soundtrack of his life-from the heart and meaningful.

As we gained entry to the bookstore and out of the rain that had started, we saw signs proclaiming “180 more steps to Bruce” and so forth and posters where you could share your favorite song, where you were from, your favorite Seattle sight/restaurant, etc. to keep you engaged while inching closer to The Boss.  They even provided a “Spruce for Bruce” mirror to make sure you were still looking good for your photo opp.  Great job, Elliott Bay, you pulled off a wonderful experience for everyone.

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The bookstore staff quickly checked belongings and took your camera/phone from you so you were unencumbered and they could take the picture.  Bruce was warm and friendly just like I thought he would be.  Instead of a heartfelt comment, I chose to be honest but made him laugh with a sincere compliment, “You are TOO CUTE!” and then followed with a plea to keep the pressure on Trump.  Seriously, HRC needs all the help she can get.  He chuckled and hugged me tight and then we were done.  It was truly a great 4 seconds.  Afterward, we hopped over to EDM to get his new album that is the musical companion to his book that features 5 previously unreleased songs called, Chapter and Verse.

Bruce, it was great meeting you.  You are a spectacular talent and inspiration to generations of fans, including me.  Thom loves you too.  Well done.