Not Everything Sucks: Springsteen At 70

Athenae and I disagree about the Beatles but we’re in complete agreement about Bruce Springsteen. The Boss turned 70 today but Bruce don’t crack. He looks and, more importantly, sounds great.

It’s time for me to tell my Springsteen fan origin story. I hate hype so I was put off when this happened:

After the media hypefest abated, I heard and liked some of Bruce’s music but didn’t buy any of his albums. In retrospect, that strikes me as odd, especially since I wasn’t fond of either of the dominant musical trends of that era: punk and disco.

In December of 1978, my old friend Russell Cole called and told me he had an extra ticket to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at our favorite venue: San Francisco’s Winterland. The ticket was a mere $7.00 but I’ve always liked free stuff so I accepted with alacrity. Besides, Russ was good company and he drove. Win-win. Thanks for inviting me, man. I’m still grateful after all these years.

I had no idea that I was about to have a life-changing musical experience and learn how to chant BRUUUUUUUUCE. This concert on December 15, 1978 is the stuff of legend and I was lucky enough to be there. I don’t even mind admitting to my dotage. Hey, I still get around without a cane or walker and have more hair than Russ; not much but more.

From the opening chords of Badlands, I was hooked. It made me a Springsteen fan for life much like the kid in the recent movie Blinded By The Light. I guess I should grade it now: 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+ It’s a reminder of how much fun movies can be and how important music is.

The set was broadcast on Jive 95: KSAN-FM and is widely considered one of the greatest rock concerts of all-time. Here’s the set list in all its glory:

First Set:

  1. Badlands
  2. Streets of Fire
  3. Spirit in the Night
  4. Darkness on the Edge of Town
  5. Factory
  6. The Promised Land
  7. Prove It All Night
  8. Racing in the Street
  9. Thunder Road
  10. Jungleland

Second Set:

  1. The Ties That Bind
  2. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
  3. The Fever
  4. Fire
  5. Candy’s Room
  6. Because the Night
  7. Point Blank
  8. Mona / Preacher’s Daughter / She’s The One / I Get Mad
  9. Backstreets
  10. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

Encore:

  1. Born to Run
  2. Detroit Medley
  3. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  4. Raise Your Hand   
  5. Quarter to Three

The show was widely bootlegged. I had it on cassette at some point but lost it in one of my cross-country moves. Thanks to the internet I can give the Boss the last word. Happy Birthday, Bruce. Thanks for all the pleasure you’ve given the world over the years.

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