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32 years ago, Bruce Springsteen played two nights at the Aud

Here is News Rock Critic Dale Anderson's review of the Springsteen show of Sept. 24, 1984, 32 years ago today: 'The Boss' enjoys working overtime

A few things about Monday night's sold-out Bruce Springsteen concert in Memorial Auditorium that tonight's sell-out crowd ought to know:

  • It really lasted until 12:30 a.m. Midnight found the band just starting to come around for the next installment on the encores. "You must be tired," Springsteen declared after his third postscript. "No-o-o," the crowd roared. "Well, he said, "If you think you're tough enough, then let's continue."
  • Bruce Springsteen at the Aud in 1984. (News file photo)

    Bruce Springsteen at the Aud in 1984. (News file photo)

  • The Boss was in superlative shape, as trim and muscular as if he'd been working construction all summer. He could've danced all night. He could've sung all night, too. At the end, when the band was vamping for all it was worth, he had so much left that he could scream exuberantly: "I'm just a prisoner of rock 'n' roll!"
  • That little guy on guitar where Miami Steve Van Zandt used to be was Nils Lofgren. Lofgren's an illustrious rocker in his own right, a point made more apparent by the easy flash of his soloing and his rubber-legged dancing, not to mention that backward somersault off the trampoline during the introductions.
  • No longer was the E Street Band an all-male preserve. Holding forth on harmonies was new backup singer Patti Scialfa, formerly with fellow Jerseyite Southside Johnny. Although she joined the chorus line dancing across the stage in the final numbers, basically she and Springsteen were more platonic than Mondale and Ferraro. It was saxophonist Clarence Clemons who got the hugs and kisses, not Ms. Scialfa.
  • Despite the way the editorial columnists and the president have been invoking his name, Springsteen didn't quite get political, but when he introduced Clemons as "king of the world and master of the universe," he added: "If there was any justice, he'd be the next president of the United States.
  • There was no chorus of "Happy Birthday" during the 40-minute intermission, though one had been threatened, Instead there were hand-lettered greetings hanging from the balconies. Springsteen acknowledged turning 35 Sunday by noting: "The older you get, the more old times you got. I just got another year's worth the other day. Clarence, he's got more old times than me, but he wears his so well."
  • Audience participation was exactly what's been reported at previous shows this tour. On familiar numbers, Springsteen simply stopped singing and let the crowd put in the words. He took his customary short walk into the front rows. And, yes, he brought a young woman up on stage to boogie with him in "Dancing in the Dark."
  • This was one show where the production didn't upstage the band. The sound was loud, the instruments well-differentiated. For lighting, a grid full of floods and posts sufficed. The stage was a simple tiered affair, with drummer Max Weinberg and keyboardists Roy Bittan and Danny Federici on risers inside a ramp on which Springsteen and Lofgren romped to the great delight of the ticketholders in the rear (or, as the Boss, called it, "the back seat").
  • The first half of the show comprised 15 songs: The anthemic "Born in the U.S.A.," the exuberant "When I'm Out on the Street," the pounding "Tenth Avenue Freezeout," a quartet of tunes from the "Nebraska" album - "Atlantic City, " "Johny 99," "State Trooper" and Mansion on the Hill" with Lofgren picking guitar like a mandolin. Then from the new album, "I'm Goin' Down," Darlington County"(with Lofgren as a grinning sidekick) and "Glory Days," followed by a mixed bag of "Promised Land," "My Hometown," an unfamiliar song called "Trapped," "Badlands" and "Thunder Road.
  • The second half contained 10 numbers mostly new ones: "Hungry Heart," "Dancing in the Dark," "Cadillac Ranch," "Downbound Train," "I'm on Fire," "Cover Me," "Pink Cadillac" (preceded by a sermon on sin and the Garden of Eden), "Bobby Jean," "Racing in the Streets" and Rosalita.
  • For encores it was "Jungleland," "Born to Run" (with a tribute to Elvis Presley: "I guess his music kinda let freedom ring for me." ) and finally a medley of old  rockers. No make that two medleys, one built around "Devil with a Blue Dress On" and the other around "Twist and Shout."
  • The Aud was muggy. Springsteen's black shirt and red headband were drenched within a few minutes. He'd duck back into the runway and douse his head with water, then return and shake it on his startled sidemen.
  • The T-shirts were $12.
  • See you there tonight. Like a lot of other fans, I'm going for two.
  • 24-sept-1984-springsteen-review


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