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September 11, 2014

Black and White Photographs of Bruce Springsteen Performing at Madison Square Garden in August, 1978

This would be Springsteen’s first headlining appearance at the Garden, a sold-out three night run on the Darkness On The Edge of Town Tour in the summer of 1978.

Unlike most artists who visit the Garden stage as an opener, Springsteen’s refusal to open for other artists (after disastrous experiences doing so) meant he’d only been there once before, as an opener for Chicago in 1973, before he’d put his policy into effect.

All three nights were triumphant, high-energy affairs with now-classic Darkness-era setlists, following a similar pattern: open with a golden oldie (say, “Summertime Blues,” “Good Rockin’ Tonight” or “High School Confidential”), and then slam into “Badlands” from the new record. Other highlights included steamy versions of “She’s The One,” complete with now-traditional intros of “Not Fade Away” into “Gloria” (which is the definition of “pure sex”), and stunning performances of “Backstreets” and “Racing In The Street.”

As befit the victorious atmosphere surrounding the shows, old friends and family were in attendance, most notably mom Adele coming out onstage during a raucous ten-minute version of “Quarter To Three” to tell her son (after already insisting, “That’s all there is, New York, there ain’t no more!”) that he had to play another encore: “This is my mother,” Bruce announces, as the Garden applauds. “But Ma, I’m tired — but Ma, I can’t — I should have never flown you from California! Ah, shit!” He took the E Street Band through one more verse and sax solo before declaring, “I’M JUST A PRISONER…of rock and roll!” and bringing the thing to a joyous close.



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