HELSINKI (CAP) - Several members of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band were admitted to the Helsinki University Central Hospital last week, apparently suffering from exhaustion following a concert at Olympic Stadium that lasted anywhere from four to nine hours, according to various reports.
"It was harrowing ... they just started dropping like flies," said Lasse Hamalainen, one of the few audience members to make it through the entirety of the mammoth performance.
Most accounts have keyboardist Roy Bittan, 63, being the first to show signs of fatigue, missing some notes in the piano solo on "Backstreets" around hour five, and then falling unconscious with his head on his keyboard.
"It made sort of a plinky sound," noted Hamalainen.
Others soon followed, including guitarist Nils Lofgren, 61, who collapsed behind the horn section Fender guitar in hand, and bassist Garry W. Tallent, 62, who curled up into a fetal position on one of the stage risers.
Witnesses say that shortly thereafter Max Weinberg's arms froze in an upraised position during "Candy's Room" and the 61-year-old drummer fell over backwards, "sort of like an uprooted Greek statue," said Hamalainen.
All through the carnage Springsteen, 63, continued to rally the crowd, waving his arms, sliding across the stage on his knees and hanging upside down off his microphone stand.
"He never slowed down, except when he tried to crowd surf over the 'pit' in front of the stage and as it turned out most of the crowd had passed out by around hour eight," said Hamalainen.
Luckily for Springsteen, two large men who had managed to stay conscious - identified only as "Aleksi" and "Joonas" - were able to hold him aloft until he could get back to the stage.
Witnesses report that by the 12th encore the entire band was strewn out around the stage in various states of consciousness, from staggeringly dazed (saxophonist Jake Clemons) to full-fledged coma (Steven Van Zandt, looking not unlike his character Silvio Dante in the last episode of The Sopranos).
"When he realized there was no one backing him up anymore, he ran offstage and grabbed his acoustic guitar" - Springsteen's guitar tech had apparently also passed out - "and started doing a solo show," said Hamalainen, who had taken to keep himself awake by pinching himself and burning his arm hairs off with a cigarette lighter.
Having run out of original compositions at this point, Springsteen launched into a medley of Pete Seeger classics, followed by three full songs that most people left described as "inane gibberish."
"But that's probably because we were mostly hallucinating at that point," said Hamalainen.
The show made headlines around the world for its unprecedented length and number of unconscious band members, with Brian Williams of ABC News calling it "one for the ages." This prompted fellow Springsteen fans Jon Stewart and Jimmy Fallon to storm the anchor desk and give him noogies.
Springsteen meanwhile helped local medical teams load his bandmates and unconscious audience members into ambulances and onto makeshift bunk beds to sleep the concert off. According to some accounts, he then resumed the show and it may still be ongoing.
- CAP News Staff