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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Never mind the Springsteen curfew, pull the plug on professional fans

So Bruce Springsteen finally got to finish his Hyde Park Calling gig - in Dublin.

Arriving on stage at the RDS Arena carrying a gigantic switch, he pretended to turn the power back on before announcing "Before we were so rudely interrupted..."

Then he launched into the last minute of Twist and Shout, the song he was playing with Paul McCartney when the plug was pulled on the Hard Rock Calling show.

During another marathon gig (which ended within the stipulated time, I notice) the Boss also held up a sign proclaiming: "Only the Boss says when to pull the plug".

And at the end of the set a bogus policeman brought proceedings to a close.

A nice touch - but it wasn't the curfew that threatened to ruin the Hyde Park gig for many.

It was the fans. Or rather the loud-mouthed morons masquerading as fans, but who had no interest whatsoever in seeing or hearing Springsteen sing.

Yes, you. You know who you are.

You with the jug of Pimms; you with the VIP Experience Pass; you with the iPad.

The combination of a ludicrously low decibel limit set by the authorities and the self-important bellowing of festival socialites at times drowned Bruce out.

Some areas of Hyde Park became no-go zones for genuine fans as the booze flowed and the conversations got louder and louder.

So while Springsteen was sharing poignant memories of the late Clarence Clemons with his saxman nephew, I was hearing about Sebastian's sales figures.

(We'll call him Sebastian. I didn't quite catch his name. But he was in earnest conversation with a similarly slick adman, perhaps a banker. Certainly something sounding similar).

While The Boss was introducing Empty Sky, I was hearing about Sharon's sex life as she bared all to a stranger she'd met, and would probably bare all again later.

Some sad people pay to listen to that sort of thing, don't they?

As Bruce explained how Thunder Road was the first song he'd ever played on UK soil, I was listening to four burly, boozed-up middle-age muppets talking about a mate's stag do.

And so it went.

Six times I moved to different areas of the crowd; six times I ended up with inconsiderate idiots more interested in the sound of their own voices than what was happening onstage.

They'd paid £65 for the privilege and they were going to be heard.

It was only when I arrived at the left-hand side of the stage that I found myself in the good company of fans who sang along with all the barnstormers, listened intently to the more reflective songs, cheered and danced to the music.

The sightline was rubbish, a sort of sideways glance at the video screen. But I didn't care, I could hear Bruce Springsteen at Hard Rock Calling.

Which had been the plan, really.

The problem with gigs like this is that they've become big occasions to be seen at, much in the same way that Ladies Day at Ascot has little to do with horse racing.

Well-heeled professionals pay over the odds for tickets, with little or no interest in the artists appearing at the event. They're there just for the bragging rights in the office.

Strangely, it's not a problem encountered at that heavy metal mecca, Download.

Maybe it's because the music's bloody loud; maybe it's because the fans are more committed; perhaps it's a class thing. Download is downmarket.

Whatever, let's stop complaining about the curfew confusion. Let's pull the plug on the 'professional' fans who couldn't give a toss.

Sebastian, Sharon, Stags, do us all a favour. Shut the proverbial up.

(By the way, you can read my review of the gig at

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