Thursday, October 28, 2010

30 Years Ago Tonight...

I saw my first Bruce Springsteen concert. Below are my thoughts from that night, reprinted from an earlier post.

The fall of 1980 was my first quarter at U.C. Berkeley, and those first few months were among the most memorable of my life. First time away from home, first time thrown into the chaos of dorm life, first time having to manage life with not one, but two roommates. As anyone who’s lived in a university dormitory can attest, the science of matching roommates with like interests and habits is an inexact one, at best. But that first year, in my “triple” at Deutsch Hall, they did a pretty good job. One of my roommates was from South Korea, and while he didn’t socialize with us much, he kept the same hours as the rest of us – something that is absolutely essential to peaceful co-existence. Rob Danin, my other roommate, and I got along great. In another lucky break, we shared similar tastes in music – also an essential component of successful dorm life. I haven’t kept in touch with Rob since college, but he has gone on to have a nice little career for himself in foreign relations, and now happens to be the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. In fact, I'm proud to say that I got a better grade than Rob did in a course we took together, on Jewish History of the 20th Century. But he's the one with the Ph.D., so I suppose it's not nice of me to point that out.

Rob was a huge Springsteen fan, and while I wasn’t quite there yet, I owned all of his albums and enjoyed them a great deal. Having subscribed to Rolling Stone for four years, I knew that Springsteen’s live shows were legendary, and when it was announced that he was heading to Oakland, getting there was a must. Cool guy that he was, Rob agreed to buy tickets for me. In those days, the only way to get them was to “sleep” overnight at the Arena where the tickets would go on sale in the morning, and luckily Rob and a group of his friends from Southern California were willing to make the vigil.

This was the era of marathon shows, and 28 October 1980 was no exception: On the night of the lone Ronald Reagan-Jimmy Carter debate, Bruce Springsteen sang 32 songs, played for more than three hours, and covered nearly every song from The River. I remember being blown away by the first part of the show, which focused on past works, and then falling hard for the River material, after having been skeptical about the double album on the first few listens. I remember Rob’s friends going absolutely crazy when he sang “Wreck on the Highway,” and I remember the utter joy of those last few moments when the lights came on and “Detroit Medley” began.

Needless to say, it was a great show.

Set list:

Good Rockin’ Tonight/Badlands/10th Avenue Freeze-Out/For You/Darkness On the Edge of Town/Factory/Independence Day/Jackson Cage/Two Hearts/The Promised Land/Out In The Street/Racing In the Street/The River/Prove It All Night/Thunder Road/Cadillac Ranch/Fire/Hungry Heart/I Wanna Marry You/The Ties That Bind/Wreck On the Highway/Stolen Car/Point Blank/Crush On You/Ramrod/You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)/Drive All Night/Rosalita/I’m A Rocker/Jungleland/Born to Run/Detroit Medley

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