I’m in my freshman year of college, and am a hard-core British, classic rock fan, cranking my Zenith with my best friend from high school regularly in our dorm room.  Beatles, Stones, The Who, Zeppelin, Floyd, et al.  I think I’m VERY cool because I know who Jeff Beck and Robin Trower are.  *strut*

I think Bruce is a pussy in 1979, and adding to the fun is my new suitemate’s love of the Boss’ new album, “Born To Run.”  He plays it constantly across the bathroom doors, and worse, when he knows we’re tired of listening to it over and over and over, he plays it with headphones on and can’t help himself, yes, he breaks out into song.  Howard can’t sing.

So, Springsteen comes to Champaign, and Howard, who I still talk to all the time to this day, gets us tickets.  In the days leading to the concert, my teasing could not be more relentless and fun.

Springsteen was, in 1979, so unknown that 2/3 of the Assembly Hall at U of Illinois is curtained off.  He’s sold about 6-7000 tickets. 

4 hours of show later, concluding with a better version of the Devil With The Blue Dress Medley than I can find online, I’m suddenly a convert.  This show ROCKED.  There wasn’t a person in the audience, even those who shouldn’t have been, up dancing and laughing in the seats and aisles.  It was a religious experience for me, and for the next six times he was in the neighborhood, I made sure I was there.  Including taking dear old Mom to a Soldier Field show around 1985.  She stood in line for me, God bless her.  I think she had fun, though she was admittedly (and properly) a little worn out by the end.

It was, in its genre, the best show I have seen to this date. The first one in ’79, I mean.  The one I saw with Mom was great, and all I could say was, “Mom, you should’ve seen him in 1979.”

Each show became progressively but distinctly a little more polished and choreographed, to my disappointment, but every one of ’em was pretty darned good.  The first one?  Truly magnificent.  Dare I say, “genius?”  Maybe.

The best I could do on YouTube was these, and I tried to pick the skinny, unknown Bruce era.  Some too early, some too late…very few just right.