Born in Nambour, blown away by New Jersey's finest
Everything rock should be ... Bruce Springsteen. Photo: Supplied
You've just seen the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, house-rocking, earth-quaking, booty-shaking, Viagra-taking, love-making - Legendary E Street Band!
With that I was out on the streets outside Chicago's Wrigley Field, freezing cold from the constant rain and exhausted to the point of near-collapse.
My knees wobbling like an ageing outfielder the Waveland Avenue bootlegger I approached was taken back by my enthusiasm for his $10 shirt. "Anything dry" was my mantra, then it was "anywhere with alcohol".
Bruce Springsteen on stage in November 2008. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP
This was my third Bruce Springsteen show in just over a week. Like the last two this concert clocked over to four hours long before the E Streeters - joined on stage at different points by Eddie Vedder and Tom Morello - finally called it quits.
This tour around the US to see the Boss play Major League Baseball parks wasn't supposed to be so physically taxing - bleeding from my heels, knees buckling from standing for eight hours straight, voice gone from screaming adoration at the band and eyes bloodshot from spilling joyous tears.
I mean these guys are as old as my parents. I can keep up with a bunch of ageing New Jersey rockers at 31!
But, no I couldn't. Not physically, not emotionally, not booty shakingly.
This is the legendary E Street Band and nobody can keep up with them. Nobody can come close. Mark my words - they're the best there is.
It was 10 years ago that I first saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live. Having blown too much of my too-limited university funds on Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan tickets I made a last minute decision to head back out to Boondall to catch the band's concert. The Rising tour was the band's first shows in Australia in nearly 20 years.
I knew Springsteen, I thought. I grew up with Born in the USA as a three-year-old screaming "Born in Nambour!" while rocking back recklessly on a dining room chair.
I had a rack of albums, an appreciation for his work and enjoyed watching the odd live DVD.
But I didn't know Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Because I'd never seen them live.
To say I was taken aback by what I saw that night is the biggest understatement I could make.
Right from the moment the band tore into Edwin Starr's War the bar was set for every rock band I would ever see. And it would never be bettered.
Right from the moment Clarence Clemons punched the air in pacifistic solidarity.
Right from the moment Bruce spat out the words "war is something that I despise" like I'd always dreamed Joe Strummer would have at an anti-racism protest.
Right from the moment Steven Van Zandt sneered at the crowd like Silvio Dante.
It was everything I'd ever wanted from rock'n'roll - powerful and joyous but at times during the night subtle and truthful. But also a whole lot more.
The sound was perfect (yes, this was Boondall) but it was the conviction of Springsteen and his band which floored me. He sang every song like he believed every note. Much of the show was a choreographed routine as a result of heavy touring since the band's 1999 reunion. But it looked and felt spontaneous - bubbling with an energy you get out of hot young band's trying to prove themselves in a little rock club, not a '70s rock band still touring the world's stadiums and arenas.
The best bits of everything that I'd ever learnt and loved about rock'n'roll - from the Everly Brothers and Beatles records my parents would play as a kid to the hard rock and punk records I'd obsessed over as a teen - was ground down to its essence and displayed on the stage in front of me.
Pure, untainted rock'n'roll, with a healthy side of Jersey swagger.
I'd never heard anyone sing like that: when Bruce took to the piano solo to sing the most gut-wrenching take of My City of Ruins the entire crowd sat in awed silence.
I'd never seen a performer have so much fun: as Bruce performed his knee slides across the stage, dryly complaining about his old age.
I'd never felt so moved: by an artist valiantly railing against the sending of American and Australian troops to Iraq.
I'd never felt so embarrassed for a band: when Bruce and E-Streeters waddled around the stage in a conga line during Out in the Street (they didn't care, they were having fun, which is the coolest of cool).
And I'd never wanted a concert to keep going into the early morning: after the final strains of the last encore Dancing in the Dark played.
When I drove home that night with Born To Run blaring in my bomby old Falcon I was so full of adrenaline I missed the exit and ended up halfway to the Gold Coast, having headed over the Gateway Bridge.
The toll booth operator let me turn around for free. I'm sure he could sense there was something terribly wrong with me and I needed to get off the road sooner rather than later.
That's why I flew halfway around the world to see Bruce and the band last summer in Chicago and Philadelphia. Not just because the band were playing two concerts in the baseball ground I consider to be my favourite place on earth.
With Clarence Clemons having passed, I realised the time would come when I wouldn't see this band which means so much to me ever again.
Having seen the band perform Born to Run start to finish at the United Centre four years ago I knew Bruce was never going to disappoint. I got to stand in the spot where Babe Ruth (mythically) pointed towards in the 1932 World Series. And then I got to see the Bambino of rock'n'roll hit shot after shot out of the Wrigleyville bandbox for four hours straight.
That's why I'm lining up early at Boondall on Thursday to see Bruce again, then see him again on Saturday night in Brisbane and again on Wednesday night in Sydney.
The band's Wrecking Ball material sounds even better live (the song Wrecking Ball itself a nightly highlight). The band have lost non of their vigour even with the passing of Danny Federici and Clarence Clemons - the tribute to Clemons being the most show-stoppingly beautiful moment I've seen on stage (just wait until you hear the heart-wrenching sound of thousands of fans screaming "Clarence" during the tribute).
Sure Bruce is all those things rock critics are bred to hate - earnest, sincere, at times bombastic and occasionally corny. But having read through this far you know I'm well-versed in all those traits.
I've not seen every rock performer that has ever mattered. I'll never see every underground rocker who never got paid their dues.
But I can say this with the upmost sincerity: Bruce Springsteen is the greatest performer I've ever seen and if you pass up a chance to see him live, your life will be poorer for it.