Greasy Lake

Bruce played Prove It All Night with '78 guitar intro... Why is that a big deal?

Published 2012-05-18
Karsten S. Andersen
By Karsten S. Andersen

The Bruce world woke up this morning to a sensation. No, Clarence wasn't resurrected from the dead. No, Electric Nebraska wasn't released. No, Bruce didn't reunite Steel Mill. So what happened? Well, Bruce decided to spend a few minutes of the show last night in Barcelona playing a guitar solo as an intro to "Prove It All Night". But why is that a sensation? He usually plays several guitar solos during his shows. Not to mention that Nils Lofgren makes stadiums go wild with his equilibristic guitar playing during songs like "Youngstown" and "Because the Night".

The guitar intro to "Prove It All Night" was first heard at the first show of the Darkness Tour in 1978. In the beginning it was hardly worth mentioning. It was over before it really got started. But during the course of the tour it evolved into a frantic, majestic 3-4 minute guitar exhibition that made audiences drop their jaws wherever the tour went. And thanks to several live radio broadcasts that were turned into classic bootlegs, the song and thereby the solo reached an ever-growing audience of Bruce fans all over the world. The piercing, and yet incredibly melodic solo became the symbol of a tour that by many is regarded as the highlight of Bruce's career... which, to a lot of us, is pretty much the same as saying the highlight of music itself.

The story of the "Prove It All Night" '78 guitar intro is not complete without mentioning the piano part that preceded and accompanied it. Roy Bittan's foreboding piano notes were the perfect expression of how something dangerous and yet both spiritually and physically arousing was about to happen. After a couple of minutes of this, in its own right, more and more accomplished piece of music, he would settle into an inciting groove while Bruce got himself and the Fender Esquire ready. That moment, just before Bruce's first scorching touch of the strings, just before the explosion, was almost as exciting as the guitar solo itself. A solo which was just the first of three raging guitar assaults that the, on the surface, slightly insignificant song would be the launching pad for, before its climactic ending 7-8 minutes later.

The "Prove It All Night" guitar intro was played a few times during the first part of the River Tour in 1980, but until last night it was firmly connected to the Darkness Tour. Last night's resurrection of the solo is an opportunity for several new generations of Bruce fans to get a sense of living in legendary times. To finally be able to stand up to those oldtimers who experienced the Darkness Tour first hand and refute their indulgent shrugs that, better than words could ever do, made it clear that "yeah, Bruce may still be pretty good, but you should have seen him in '78".

Time will tell if the "Prove It All Night" intro is back to stay or if this was a one-off experience. As great as that moment was, no one who heard it can deny that it would need a lot more work to come close to the Winterland or Passaic '78 versions. But maybe this was just Bruce teasing his fans and we'll never hear another attempt, or maybe he'll get serious about bringing it back and once again let it evolve into perfection.

Whatever the case, what happened last night was magic whether you were at Estadi Olimpic or not, and the first night in Barcelona of the 2012 Wrecking Ball Tour has already secured its place in the Bruce history books. Dreams came true, and it was more than nice.

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john driscoll writes: This live song more than any other defines the bruce live experience. I, like many others first heard it on a bootleg Cd. But it also defines my frustration with the bruce ethos. Why did he not include it on the live compilation released in 1986. 30 years! while we got Glory Days and Hungry Heart (pick your own) on an all too regular basis. It also reminds me (sorry) of how his writing has declined since The Rising. He still cuts it live (last saw him at hyde park) but I dunno, that 78 tour..... can it ever be bettered? Maybe it can't....maybe it shouldn't?!
Joe Schmoe writes: Anyone who wants to play that, "Yeah, but you shoulda seen them in..." can just kiss my ass because they're not a real Bruce & E Street fan, anyway. They're just a jerk, and would be no matter whom they saw way back in...whenever. I have been fortunate to have seen Bruce and E Street live since 1976 and I do not have a favorite show. Each show has been a gift to admire, replay, and to rejuvenate my soul. Each show has been unique, each with its own highlights. I don't know how he had that much energy when he was 30 and doing "Quarter to Three" at the MUSE concerts...so I sure as hell don't know how he's 63 and still kicking ass every night for 3 hours with a band that just gets better.
But I'm glad he does.
CCC writes: I was there, I was part of boss' history, I was part of a dream.
And I cried.
John K writes: Agreed! Cleveland Agora '78 show...I've listened to that show and that song so many times since that night I recorded it off WMMS on an 8 track tape in my buddies living room. Classic stuff... and this tour, to me, is as close as it gets.
the iLSTER writes: dont forget that Steve played the closing solo ..
and maybe you can help - did it ever happen before ?
Dave Simpson writes: Played in Manchester on Friday as an audience request. One of many highlights in an awesome show. Though I think the reworking of City of Ruins into a Clarence tribute was the most magical part of a magical night.
Michael Dick writes: I was there in Manchester on Friday (June 22, 2012) as well and it took me about 30 seconds to realise what Bruce was playing. After that, it was just magical. But I would add that My City of Ruins was a tribute to Danny Federici as much as to the Big Man. Remember, "if you're here and we're here, they're here".
Crazy Janey writes: I agree with Joe Schmoe 1,000%. Bruce man has so much material, not everybody will love everything... and what makes one person go over the moon with happiness, might make the one next to you say...why is he playing this??? No matter. ANY Bruce show is gift. He tries to please the entire audience...casual fans and die-hards alike, with a little of this, and a little of that. No easy feat!!! Case in point...I did see the '78 intro in 1980 on the River Tour. I can admire the talent, but it's not my thing. However, if he plays it sometime during the next 4 shows I am BLESSSED to have tickets for, and everyone is going nusts with joy...that's great!! I have a good friend who is a major DIE HARD, and Dancing in the Dark is her all time favorite... whatever floats your Springsteen boat :) I go nuts when I hear people say "He hasn't written anything worthwhile since __________" That's just ridiculous. Perhaps you didn't like a certain CD, and that's fine. But I live in a large circle of Bruce fanatics, have seen many, many shows since 1980, and can tell you that EVERY album has touched someone. In my personal, humble opinion...NOTHING is more amazing, fun, spiritual, and inspiring then a Bruce concert.
Mike Zabaroff writes: Agree with every word. Bruce didn't come to the UK in '78 so we missed out on that tour but his shows now have lost none of the magic. My only gripe is that he does outdoor/stadium shows 99.9% of the time. I realise that the number of people who want to see him makes smaller venues a logistical nightmare but I long for those shows.
But you know, I'm just thankful that he is still out there as strong as ever. I've been a fan since 1975 and the excitement has never left!
Obimick writes: I agree with most on herebut will never agree that 1 Springsteen gig is the best. they all have there own qualities thats why we all still keep coming back! for that special night. ive loved every album the man has done! some better than others obviuosly but live there is no difference he is amazing his shows are amazing i went to both sunderland and manchester and got point blank and murder inc amonst others of course in sunderland and in manchester got prove it all night with the 78 intro and cadillac ranch amonst others! I also went hyde park and blimey got Take em as they come and I saw her standing there! so a perfect example that no Bruce Springsteen show is the best! I love this man and his band!
Trev Lees writes: Been a fan for years , never saw 78 , yea got the bootlegs and YES it's bloody amazing , hackles goosebumps every time ! It's what Buce does , lucky to see him several times. I don't count either. Went to both Bercy shows in Paris this year , amazing back to back DIFFERENT concerts, 2nd night nailed it for me , one of the best that I have been to . I loved the TOL Tour , but he'll I've n joyed every tour I've seen . At 63 just how long will he keep going ? I have gr8 memories of Bruce & the ESB , love his music , hoping for more in 2013 ! One life we Bruce fans sure live it !!
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