He's a Springsteen superfan - Omaha.com
Published Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 12:01 am / Updated at 7:12 am
He's a Springsteen superfan
The Songs
A vast catalog of songs. A desire to vary his set lists. A willingness to take audience requests.

Those factors add a lot of variety and unpredictability to Bruce Springsteen's concerts. But based on recent shows, here's a clue to songs Omaha concert-goers might hear Thursday:

Almost certain:

» Badlands
» Born to Run
» Dancing in the Dark
» Death to My Hometown
» My City of Ruins
» Shackled and Drawn
» Spirit in the Night
» Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
» Waitin' on a Sunny Day
» We Take Care of Our Own
» Wrecking Ball

50-50 chance (or better):
» Land of Hope and Dreams
» Hungry Heart
» Because the Night
» The Rising
» Darlington County
» Out in the Street
» Working on the Highway

Few (if any) of these crowd-pleasers are likely to make the setlist:
» Backstreets
» Bobby Jean
» Glory Days
» Jungleland
» No Surrender
» Pink Cadillac
» Prove It All Night
» Racing in the Street
» The Promised Land
» The River

Springsteen by the numbers:*
83 – Total number of different songs played
26 – Average number of songs per night
11 – Songs played at every show
48 – Songs played at only one show

*Based on setlists for Springsteen's first eight shows on current tour leg (Oct. 19 to Nov. 3)

— Paul Goodsell, World-Herald staff writer

David Parsow isn't a roadie, A backup singer or a guitar tuner.

But he's heading out on tour with Bruce Springsteen.

Parsow, a fan for more than three decades, will catch the rock superstar in concert three times in five days: Omaha on Thursday, Kansas City on Saturday and Denver on Monday.

Springsteen fans are known for hitting multiple concerts on the same tour, and for them, these are the glory days.

“He keeps me young,'' said the 57-year-old Parsow, who lives in Omaha.

Other singers and bands, from Bob Dylan and Wilco to Madonna and Jimmy Buffett, also are known for having fans who hit a string of shows.

It's a chance for fans to connect with a favorite artist one more time, commune with other disciples and hear even more of the music they love.

Adam Tyma, assistant professor of communications at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said those are the same reasons people watch a “Twilight” movie a half-dozen times, gaze at the same Renoir painting over and over or visit the Omaha Community Playhouse every year for “A Christmas Carol.”

Fans — whether their passion is art or hunky vampires — can draw something new with each experience, Tyma said. Maybe it's a detail they never noticed in a painting or movie dialogue that strikes them a new way.

Live performances, such as plays and concerts, provide even more chances to catch something new.

At Springsteen concerts, that means hearing a song he usually doesn't play in concert or hearing a different version of it.

Springsteen has a catalog of more than 200 songs and is known for varying his set lists from show to show. Of the roughly 25 songs he plays per concert on this tour, perhaps a dozen can be different from one night to the next.

That's a big part of the draw for Parsow, president of Parsow's Fine Clothing and Sportswear.

He has caught Springsteen in concert 55 times, the first one at the Omaha Music Hall in 1978.

He'll never forget Springsteen and the E Street Band breaking into “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” The rocker's energy and powerful vocals pulled Parsow in from the start.

“He empties the tank,'' Parsow said. “He leaves nothing at the end of his shows.”

He attended eight Springsteen concerts on that 1978 tour in such cities as St. Louis, Chicago and Cleveland.

Parsow remembers Springsteen jumping down from tall speakers, then racing across the stage and sliding on his knees, as the late Clarence Clemons wailed on the saxophone.

Springsteen's songs pull Parsow back to certain memories and periods in his life.

One of Parsow's favorite songs is “Human Touch,” a soulful tune about longing.

At concerts, Parsow has heard different versions of Springsteen songs over the years, such as acoustic renditions of the popular “Thunder Road.” He caught Springsteen three times in 1984: Ames, Iowa; Lincoln and Kansas City. He saw him multiple times in 1988, 1992 and 1999, the year he rocked with Springsteen eight times including four at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

Parsow has even toured Europe with Springsteen.

In 2008, he caught Springteen's concert in Omaha, then followed him to Dallas and Houston, before hitting shows in Belgium and Paris for a total of nine shows.

Parsow has his logistics set for his three-concert run that starts Thursday at Omaha's CenturyLink Center.

He'll work at his clothing store Saturday, and leave at 5:30 p.m. for the drive to the evening concert at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

He'll spend Saturday night in Kansas City, then head back to Omaha on Sunday morning and work on Monday. He'll leave his store in time to catch a 5:50 p.m. flight to Denver for that night's concert at the Pepsi Center.

Following Springsteen on tour can get a little pricey. Tickets can hit $100-plus, and you're paying hotel and other travel costs.

But for fans like Parsow, it's all worth it.

“It's like a vacation,'' he said.

John Wees, another big fan, will hit the Omaha show with his wife, Judy, and 13-year-old son Jackson. All three will head south two days later for the Kansas City concert.

Wees first listened to Springsteen as an Omaha Gross High School student in 1975. Springsteen released “Born to Run” that year, and Wees remembers his older brother cranking the album's powerful title track over 5-foot-tall speakers in the family's basement.

Wees thought it was good rock and roll, like Led Zeppelin and the Beatles. But it didn't blow him away.

That would happen during the next decade, with such Springsteen albums as “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “The River” and “Nebraska.” Wees said Springsteen grew as a songwriter and storyteller on those albums.

“That's when I became a monster Bruce fan,” said the 52-year-old Wees.

Wees hopes that catching Springsteen twice on this tour will increase the chances he'll hear “Racing in the Street.” It's one of Wees' favorites, and one Springsteen rarely plays in concert.

Springsteen concerts are packed with baby boomers like Wees.

But younger fans also rack up multiple shows.

Matt Whipkey, a 31-year-old Omaha musician, caught Springsteen at Chicago's Wrigley Field in September and will attend Thursday's CenturyLink show.

Over the years, he's hit eight Springsteen shows, and learned a lot from the Boss.

Springsteen is a master at pacing his concerts, said Whipkey, a guitarist and singer who leads the Whipkey Three. Springsteen will toss in a fast song if he senses fans want to get up on their feet or a slower song if they need a break.

“I don't think anybody reads a crowd better than he does,'' Whipkey said.

World-Herald staff writer Paul Goodsell contributed to this report.

Contact the writer:

402-444-1122, michael.oconnor@owh.com

Contact the writer: Michael O'Connor

michael.oconnor@owh.com    |   402-444-1122    |  

Michael is a general assignment reporter for the Living section, covering a mix of topics including human interest stories.

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