Joy and I had a lovely little mix-up on Valentine’s Day, like “The Gift of the Magi” except with no downside (I always did feel so bad about Jim’s watch): we each surprised the other with a pair of tickets to the April 24 Bruce Springsteen concert.

Laughs and hugs exchanged, and extra tickets sold, we eagerly looked forward to the show, and it did not let us down. Bruce started out strong and ended stronger. I swear, he looked younger and more energetic at the end of the three hours than he did at the start. I was exhausted, and I’m almost 20 years younger than he is. And, I might add, a good 30 years younger than a lot of the people in the crowd. Joy was a little concerned that someone might have a coronary. No one did, at least not in our section. They danced and sang along and looked very happy. I knew we had a great crowd to share the concert with when he sang “Badlands” early on and everyone sang along. Not just on the chorus–on the verses.

On the down side, there was such a bottleneck getting into the arena that the show had to start 45 minutes late. I don’t know how many entrances there are into the arena but it’s about 25% of the necessary ones. A more significant problem was that, as we discovered, the HP Pavilion in San Jose is a rotten place for a rock concert. The sound was so muddy I couldn’t make out half the instruments. I knew there was a violin in that mix, because I could see the violinist playing, but I couldn’t hear her until Bruce introduced the band and each got a moment’s solo. Today when I told a friend I’d been to the show, she said, “I saw him there a couple of years ago!” and within three seconds we had shared the opinion that the sound was abominable. About the best thing that can be said about the arena is that its seats are super-comfortable.

Never mind. Springsteen said the mission of the band was to make us wake up the next morning saying, “What the f— happened to me? I feel different!” and they accomplished it.

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