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1978 (2003):

Bruce Springsteen – Winterland Night

Although I had long been a Springsteen fan, it was years before I got to see him live. I didn’t start going to gigs regularly until the nineties and by then, he had broken off contact with the E Street Band and seemed somehow less essential. Hence, it wasn’t until the E Street Band reunion tour in 1999 that I finally got to see the Springsteen live experience.

I was hypnotised.

I already had the Live box set from the eighties, but this was no longer enough. I started collecting bootleg CDs from the seventies and eighties. I did a lot of reading on the internet so that I had a good idea which shows I was looking for but mostly I wanted a cross section of shows from different eras. A show from 75, a Darkness era show, something from The River tour.

Along the way I stumbled across Winterland Night. It’s a document of a fantastic gig in San Francisco in December 1978. It’s one of those legendary shows with a fantastic setlist and a band on top form and I’ve probably listened to it as much as any of his official albums. Smack in the middle of Disc 2 is probably my favourite two song sequence anywhere in my CD collection. Live, Candy’s Room is far more ferocious than on the record, with a Steve Van Zandt guitar solo that would snap your head off and spit you out. This segues perfectly into ‘Because The Night’, a fantastic song that Bruce could afford to give away to Patti Smith. In total, it’s around ten minutes of heaven.

Cut forward to 2003. By now my Springsteen appreciation is such that it doesn’t seem outlandish to journey to the States to see a show. Or two. The tour in support of ‘The Rising’ had ten dates at Giants Stadium and by the time the last dates were announced, it was possible for a laggard fan from the UK to get tickets with little bother.

I got the coach over to the Stadium for the ninth show and collected my ticket immediately. I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to the show until I had that ticket in my hand. When I got into the stadium I realised that I had what would politely be called a nosebleed seat. Bruce and the band were a mile away but it didn’t matter. I could see the big screens and soak up the atmosphere.

Fourth track in – Candy’s Room. Five tracks later, Because The Night.

It’s obviously not the same as the 1978 disc. The band are not as young any more, but the energy that comes from the stage is extraordinary. Fifty year olds shouldn’t be able to make music this loud and this physical and with this much vitality. Bruce holds the attention of the entire stadium. That night, I’m far away from home, but there isn’t anywhere I would rather be.

(Extra – Laura Barton says it far more eloquently than me)

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