2003-03-28, Western Springs Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand

The Rising Tour
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Appr. 2 hours, 45 minutes.
Bruce's first ever show in New Zealand.
"Born in the USA" is done? solo acoustic..
"Who'll Stop the Rain" is a tour premiere.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
Angelique Pinho wrote: 28 March 2003 - Bruce Springsteen plays Western Springs, Auckland, New Zealand for the first time. And is indescribable.

Remember how long the year used to be until Christmas? And how Christmas Eve was never ending? Felt like those presents were never going to arrive. 25 years is a long time too. 12 hours in the pouring rain is even longer. 2 minutes while the rest of the band files on stage until the reason for the wait actually appears, is an eternity.

Suddenly, he is there, centre stage looking so familiar that you have an urge to say, "Hey man! There you are! What kept you?" A whole song crawls past. He's tweaked it and changed it and you know it but it feels a bit different and you're suddenly not sure. In fact it just takes a bit of getting used to and before the thought "man forget the 25 years, I've been waiting all DAY in the rain" can really take hold, he's counting off the next song.

And it happens. The magic. Suddenly a jean clad, 53-year-old storyteller has grabbed you by the hand you're off.

It doesn't matter how much faith you have that it exists, until your experience the magic in the night it is still only a line from a song. One of the best lines from one of the best songs. But just a line.

Sue has waited 25 years for that magic. Growing up with a love of cars and racing she's been waiting in the rain since 9 am. Waiting for the engines to roar, the flag to go down and the racing to begin. At 5.30 when his voice floats out from the stadium during the sound check it is all a bit much. She's not alone - like the girls melting on the beach, he was so close but so out of reach. But you can't tell the tears from the rain so it is okay. And 3 hours later he speaks the words that change and unite us all forever:
"Long as I remember, the rains been pouring down"

With the closing "who'll stop the rain?" the rain stops. A split second of silence as the crowd realizes what's happening and then with a roar everyone climbs on board - for some a motorbike, some a 69 Chevy with a 396, some a train, some just take his hand and walk along side. And with a warning that there will be no surrender, he takes us on a trip. The damp and cold forgotten, friendships spring up in the darkness as the crowd try on newer songs and admire the fit only to swap them a minute later for the older more comfortable fit of a Promised Land. Not a single one is left on the rack.

For well over an hour, we race with him. For some it is a return trip - the ride as good as the ones before. Doreen and Tara visit roads they have only imagined. For Rex a 25-year dream comes true. For Jose it is a conversion from a guy who liked a few songs to one who has found a reason to believe. And while visiting Mary's place and meeting the people who help tell the story, he kindly lets us have a glimpse of the man behind the storyteller - yeh sure it always works at home man!
Asking his passengers to show a little faith, there's magic in the night is met with a roar of approval and yet of loss. He's stopping the ride already? He's walking away. Man, haven't YOU been listening to US? We might be at the other end of the world but WE BELIEVE! You can't go yet! All day man. IN THE RAIN!

Obviously enjoying the power of driving 25,000 people down that long dusty road, he's back and for the next 45 minutes brings out some old friends. Now, night magic is one thing. Saying the magic formula and have the crowd give the magic back to you is quite another - and clearly it never loses its appeal for this street poet. Abracadabra will never have the power of that "1-2-3-4" that you know is introducing Born To Run and turns 25,000 people from the other end of the world into a single voice. In the space of an image, the driver becomes the passenger and finally listens. He believes. Knows that we were there all this time, listening, and waiting. 10 years down the road, 15 years down the road, 25 years down the road. And thanks to the video screens, the passengers see the storyteller suddenly understand and they sing a little louder. Just to say thank you at last.

This time as he walks away, there is no disappointment - for there is no doubt that we have performed the magic this time. He'll come back out. Whether he intended to or not is no longer the question - when he comes back, it will be different because the passengers have proved themselves. And out he comes. To talk to his passengers. And to listen. Listen to Sue who got to stand next to the stage, - a fitting reward for 25 years of devotion and who had the courage to speak for us all and ask him to come back. Listen to Kirk who was somewhere in the darkness, driven like the rest of us to be there but unable to really explain why. Listen to Annette who thanked them for us - not just for coming but also for being. He may not have heard the individual voices but he at last heard all of us.

For around 3 hours, he took us by the hand, drove us around, told us stories. And wove the magic that is Bruce Springsteen's: of bringing people together as one. Whatever happens now that will never change.

Should he never get back in the driver's seat, it won't matter for the ride will never end. Just close your eyes. And there he is: against the midnight sky - Dancing in the Dark.

Sarah Macmillan wrote: Thank you for helping me to relive the memories of the Magic in the Night!


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