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Bruce Springsteen turns 56 on Friday [Sept 23]. It has been a long, successful slog over 34 years since he started in 1971. He's been through the mill - fought and won a lawsuit to free himself from an early recording contract, married and divorced a celebrity-wannabe wife, changed his band in mid-career and reunited with them again and stayed true to his beliefs that music can transform and save lives.
By 1978, Bruce Springsteen had succeeded in America with two very strong albums behind him. On the last of this three night stand at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey, which was two days away from his 29th birthday, it was clear he had not only arrived but he wasn't following in anyone's footsteps, drawing his own map and legend. He never did fall victim to fashion, in fact he offered a genuine lo-fi, Americana album with Nebraska in 1982.
To celebrate his birthday, we offer this special show from the Darkness Tour. Highlights of this show include the final performance of Kitty's Back which he wouldn't play again until many years later. Also the trilogy of Racing In The Street, where Bruce flubs a line and chuckles in apology, a quiet moment to treasure; Thunder Road now a concert classic; and a rare performance of Meeting Across The River, a song about hope where a young man is desperate to convince himself he must choose a crooked path. At the show, this song was dedicated to Jon Landau. The rock critic who is best remembered as the man who pushed a struggling Springsteen into the limelight. Meeting Across The River has a similar theme of friendship.
His voice and his conviction is the attraction of this show. When Springsteen released his official live album, the four-LP Live 1975-1985 set, the bulk of the songs were chosen from his '80s concerts where the sound quality was much better but a bit of self-consciousness had already settled in. When he sings Born To Run here, you can't help but recognise your own aspirations as a young adult in the song - that we all are desperate to make our mark in our own way. To be young and to be our own self not forever standing in our father's shadow.
All the classic songs from Born To Run and Darkness On The Edge Of Town appear on this 1978 show together with rare covers of High School Confidential, Sweet Little Sixteen and an early celebration of Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Fire and Because The Night, songs Springsteen gave away to The Pointer Sisters and Patti Smith, are also performed, which stretched this show to an almost marathon three hours.
The cover picture captures the moment on stage when Bruce receives his "present", a giant gift box and out popped a lingerie-clad nubile.
This concert originally appeared on the Scorpio label as The Bosses [sic] Birthday Party but the version on offer is the new Godfather release  which is a remaster with some reduction in hiss. This show has never appeared in a complete form, there's a cut on the second to last song, 10th Avenue Freeze Out and still missing is the last song, Quarter To Three. It's still a near-excellent soundboard recording with a full bottom, nice stereo and clear vocals and instruments.
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