Cardiff 2008

Kat.: In English Utw.: 09.09.2008 Paweł Rost (transl. Maciej Księżycki) E-mail

This adventure began a couple of months ago, when my dear wife told me (that mysterious smile on her face) that tickets for a Springsteen show in Cardiff, Wales, were at a quite reasonable price (₤55), and that they were still available, and that my brother-in-law lived in Bristol, and…

But I, being sedate like some old man, killed her enthusiasm. I said that the show was „only three weeks before our wedding, and there were more important expenses for us, and even though it was so tempting we had to give up the whole idea”.

I think it was the moment I should have become a little more suspicious, for my dear Kalina withdrew so quickly (this does not happen to her too often – she has a personality and does not usually give up without a struggle). Anyway, a few weeks later I forgot about the idea, but then I saw she was a little uncomfortable. She looked very uneasy – you know, like a child who was told a secret and obliged to keep it for itself whatever may be. It does not say a word, and yet it is obvious that there is something in the air… So, I could see there was something about to happen. Finally she gave up! I got my birthday present in February, I guess (you have to know that my birthday is June 27 – I am a decent Cancer).

Basically, a smile occured on my face, however I did not behave quite fair later (because „our plans were different”). So, rather than blow with joy like a helium baloon, I began to explain my reaction confusedly – I said I was happy, but we should have rather thought of our wedding day, and the tickets were so expensive, and it was the busiest time at my work… In other words, I deserved a good kick in the ass.

Months passed by, and the thing reappeared in those moments when I looked at a calendar in my office. I had written the word BRISTOL between the dates of June 12 and 17, and marked it in red so that nobody had any doubt that I would be missing at that time – no matter what.

Finally, I am in Bristol, sitting with my brother-in-law while there is a break  during Poland vs Austria soccer game (no comments here), drinking Guinness and trying to make a smart plan for Saturday. The plan was simple – to get up early in the morning on Saturday, and to go to Cardiff  to get at the stadium before 9am, and then nothing else would matter. We did as we had planned. We were at the stadium at 9.30 and we immediately approached a first person (a group of about 100 people stood there, or should I say „nomadized”) and he – without a word - pointed at a guy with a green t-shirt on. When we came to him, he said with an American accent that our numbers were 222 and 223. He handed us a red marker and wrote our are names down in his notebook. And we sat down by the gate. The crowd grew larger every minute. By 11.00 there was at least 400 people waiting. And what kind of people they were! No youngsters at all, mainly people of Bruce’s age, and some were even much older. People this age don’t go to concerts in Poland, let alone getting up at 9 in the morning and sitting on concrete just to have a good place.

Bartek and I still remebered our struggle to get to PIT during Metallica’s show in Chorzow where the only thing that counted was your strength. It was so different in Cardiff. People just sat and had a picnic. They drank wine, make drinks and treated one another. Two toillett booths were located close to the group, and a food stand too – high life. Someone from the security comes close from time to time and talks to the guy who distributed numbers. Suddenly, when the crowd grew quite large, it was decided that a line should be formed. The security man gives the guy a megaphone and he, in turn, asks everyone to stand up and move away from the gate. He informs us that he will call everyone out by their numbers and thus it will be honest – people who came earlier will have better places. And it struck me – everyone obeyed and stood up and moved back civilly, and  then waited peacefully to be called out. Then everyone took their places at one of 8 gates. No mutiny, no struggle,  people are kind to one another, introduce themselves while standing in line, and make arrangements – who is going to town and who is staying in line. And then serenity again – wine, hamburgers and the atmosphere of a picnic.

By that moment a long line was formed by those who came too late and did not have their numbers. They were dealt with by the security, because the guy who had organized us had to go and move his car to a different lot (his parking fee became invalid). It all took place at about 11.00. At about 13.00 came the security and handed us wristbands. At that moment a crowd of about 800 people gathered at the place. After we were given the wristbands, we might be quite sure that we would eventually get to the PIT, so most of us went out to town.

We, too, wanted to go to town, however we learned from our neighbors that the line should remain formed and it was up to us whether to go or not, but after our return from town we would have had to take place at the end of the line. After all, those who stood there all day deserved our respect. But there was not a problem when we wanted to go for a beer and were absent for about an hour. We just checked in when we came back and then went to lie down by the gate in the sun. That is how we spent all day.

At about 5 p.m. came the security and that meant it was time to get up and clean up our places. At 5.30 they opend the gates and the civility was over at that moment. Everybody tried to run as fast as possible to be the first one at the stage. As usual, I don’t remember how I entered the stadium, which way I was running. Anyway, suddenly I found myself in a place of my best dreams – where the podium meets the stage. Bartek came at the same place in just a second, and then I understood this old Polish saying „I can do bigger things with my brother-in-law” gets another meaning. Smile

Beside us stood very kind Spaniards and an American guy – the same who gave us our numbers. When finally everyone had their places, the civility ruturned. It was so nice, that even when someone standing just at the stage needed to go out for a while to get something to drink, nobody made any fuss to let him take his previous place.

Crazy with happiness, at about 5.40 I noticed that it was still 2 hours before the show would begin – well, as for Bruce’s standard it might as well be 3 hours. I was not so wrong. Anyway, I had some time to look around a little. Some pieces of paper were stuck to the podium. There were lyrics written on them - „Girls In Their Summer Clothes”, „Mary’s Places”, and „Living In The Future”. I was sure these songs would be played. Later on, the roadies stuck another two pieces of paper – it was „I’m On Fire” and „Working On The Highway” – and my face was smiling ear to ear seeing these songs. As it proved to be, not all of these song were played during the show.

Time passed so slowly, my legs began to ache like hell, and then finally Kevin showed up. Some actions started. The roadies stuck another pieces of paper to the stage. Then the lighting guys showed up to a great applause from the audience and started climbing up the ramp. 30 minutes left and…

The show began!

And what a beginning it was! I didn’t think it would start this way. When last December Mariusz and I decided to play this song on air (Mariusz works for one of the best Polish radio stations – Channel 3) I said to our listeners I had experienced in my life that „from small things big things one day come”. I didn’t think that it would come back to me like an echo.

Bruce was walking on the stage, smiling ear to ear, tanned and smelling nice (unfortunately I cannot tell what perfume that was – I am no expert at all). Then we got „10th Ave...”, and „Radio”… And I was in ectasy. When he got on the podium and came close to us, his sweatdrops fell on our faces when he waved his hands (I am telling this to give you an idea how close we were – and not to raise any prayers to his blessed sweatdrops).

I can’t name all songs played one after another – you have stastistics for this. Yet I remember when the Spanish fans and us screamed to „Atlanic City”, when we jumped to „Because the Night”, when Nils’s solo in this song made us stop jumping and stand stone-like – it was so incredible. And  then „Darlington County” – Boss sitting on the podium close to us, with his back leaning on fans hands. He sang one verse in that position keeping the mike back towards the audience once in a while, so that people could scream a little bit. I remember that I felt like in a trance when Bruce sang „Working On A Highway” standing just in fron of us, proceding this song with a shower from his mouth (he just spat on us Smile ). There was also „The River” and „Badlands” sang together. But for me the time suddenly stopped when Bruce showed us a piece of cardboard with a single word on it – JUNGLELAND.

The first notes made me stand still, I closed my eyes and felt just like long ago, back when I lied in bed in my room at the attic in Puszczykowo. It was so close (it was hot summer) and I listened to „Born To Run” record and dreamed of hearing Jungleland played live at a show. I was then 17 or so and this dream seemed so unreal back then. But we know, that dreams may come true…

The show basically was over for me when I heard the last notes of my favorite tune (favorite since I was a teenager). The Spanish fans, Bartek and I went crazy when they played „Rosalita”, and then „American Land”, but nothing seemed so important any more. Bartek tried to fight for drumsticks that Max threw out towards us, but he lost the fight with the Spaniards. They, in turn, let us take a picture of the setlit they had been given by a camera oparator (it seemed taht they knew her quite well).

About a quarter later we were already driving home in our car. Later we had whisky on the rocks and great memories with my brother-in-law – until 4am. A day like that would be remebered long, maybe forever.

And this all would not have happened if not for Kalina! Can you imagine better luck? Thank you, wife!!!


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