Article 1978-11-04 Burlington, VT

Springsteen’s Energy Electrifies Crowd

Four years was a long time to wait for his return to Burlington, but perhaps the line he emphasized from “Rosalita” summed it up best. “I ain’t here on business, I’m only here for fun.” For fun is all everyone in attendance had at a packed Patrick Gymnasium Saturday night as “the Boss”, Bruce Springsteen with his E Street Band totally electrified everyone with their exuberance and manic energy.

Springsteen bounced, prowled, jumped and crooned his way through two sets of his tunes, without a hint of self glorifying pretentiousness. Though he mainly focused on his last two Columbia albums, “Born to Run” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” he also featured three new tunes, “Ties That Bind”, “Independence Day” and “Point Blank”. Springsteen joked that they would hopefully be on an album “by the summer of 1984” in reference to his just ended long time long legal battle with his former manager Mike Appel.

The dispute was a financial hardship for Springsteen who lost touch with his audience and left a gap of several year between album releases. He later thanked the crowd for bearing with the band during those trying times and he showed through his music that he’s back and promises to make up for lost time.

After being hailed as “the new Dylan” and seeing his face splashed on simultaneously across the covers of Time and Newsweek, Springsteen has had a lot to live up to. And he has weathered it well, for his latest album and new songs clearly bring out the pain he has endured without evoking pity, for he knows everyone’s been through the same joys and sadness in love, life and music.

On his new songs and old ones like “Backstreets”, “Racin’ in the Streets” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, Springsteen countered his rock energy with sensitive singing and images of cars, darkness and unfulfilled love. His voice was gruff and from the bottom of his heart, though the words were undermixed all evening in the P.A., drowned out as the organ and guitars became excessively loud at times.

Currently winding up an exhaustive tour which began in the U.S. in May and has since crossed the country and Europe. Springsteen should have been tired but if he was he showed no sign of it. He was determined to bring as many people as possible into the show to share its excitement with them.

To do this he made repeated forays to the edge of and into the crowd, at one time being held aloft by the crowd six rows back as he sang a soulful refrain of “Sprit in the Night” . He prowled the stage from high behind the drummer to atop the piano and several times offered his microphone to the crowd urging them to sing the lines for some of “Thunder Road”, “She’s the One”, and “Rosalita”. The crowd happily consented to anything he offered or asked them.

Springsteen stunned the crowd with his stinging guitar playing and solos something he is not given due credit for, most notably on “Prove it all Night” and “Badlands”. Clarence “Big Man” Clemens was Springsteen’s alter ego on the saxophone, dressed in white as opposed to Bruce’s black. He played with controlled energy all evening proving the perfect counterpart to Bruce’s visual dynamics. He especially shined in his solos on “Sprit in the Night” and “Rosalita” whirling in circles as he blew his heart out. At one time during “Rosalita” Springsteen and Clemens crossed the stage in a mock duel between saxophone and guitar until they met at center stage foreheads and noses pressed together until Bruce broke it off with a kiss urging the crowd to shout louder “so they can hear you in New Jersey”.

Called back for three encores, Springsteen fed everyone a diet of rock and roll. “Born to Run” was first followed by a medley of “Jenny With The Blue Dress On”, “Good Golly Miss Molly” and “C C Rider”. “Dancin Til Quarter to Three” closed the show as Springsteen mockingly implored the crowd “Somebody stop me before I hurt myself”.

His questions of “Had enough yet” or “Ain’t you tired yet?” brought emphatic NO’s from the crowd. After one more chorus he explained “I’m just a prisoner of rock and roll” and with that he jumped atop the P.A. took off his jacket and shirt and danced off stage. He left a lot of drained “prisoners” in the audience all truly glad for the three hour “escape” he had provided.

By Charles Frazier via Burlington Free Press (Special to the Free Press) on November 5, 1978.
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