1974-01-26, Chrysler Theatre, Norfolk, VA

The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle Tour
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Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
"HB" Beverly wrote: I almost didn't see this show, as what I thought at the time was a homely looking girl with wire rimmed glasses, who was trying to go out with me called, saying she had been stood up for a date with another guy, and she had a free ticket if I wanted to go with her to see Bruce at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk. I started not to go, because I'd never heard of Bruce at that point. But, she mentioned that Charlie Daniels of then "Ballad of Uneasy Rider" fame was opening the show, and so being a big fan of that song, I thought it'd be OK to go check it out.

Charlie did his thing, and I have to admit, most of the people who attended were there for him, because once his show was over, 3/4 of the audience left! We were seated upstairs in the balcony, so when it emptied out, it was no problem for us to walk right down to front and center, and take out new positions in the ultra comfortable crushed velour reclining seats.

Nothing, and yet everything that I had listened to up to that point in my life, prepared me for what I was about to see, and hear for the first time. The lights dimmed, and Bruce walked out alone, strapped into his D-28 Martin guitar, dressed to kill in his tight jeans, boots, tank-style undershirt, and black leather jacket. Topping it all off was the news boy cap, pulled stylishly to the side. The large hoop ear ring threw me off, as I thought, "He doesn't LOOK gay..." Up til that time, the only guys I'd seen wearing earrings was gay people. So, he was way ahead of his time. Overall though, he threw off a very Elvis-like aura around himself, and I sensed that this wasn't going to be like anything I'd ever seen before.

I don't remember him even acknowledging the crowd, (maybe a hundred or so now), and then he softly counted off, "Ah one-two-three-fo..." and went into "Wild Billy's Circus Story". My first thoughts were, "This is not going to be a rock and roll concert at all." And then Danny and Gary came in with their tuba and accordian parts, and Bruce started weaving his magical tale, which captivated me from that point on. If the rest of the show had sucked, I would have bought the album for just that one song. But I remember thinking, "This guy has got big balls to come out and start a show with a dramatic ballad such as this." I had never seen anyone do something like that, so right away I knew I was seeing something very different.

There could have been two or three songs that followed - I'm not sure, and Bruce was not satisfied with my being seated in the front and center row, and idly just watching the show from my comfortable digs. What followed changed my life forever, and I would literally follow him into the gates of hell if he said that's where I should go with him!

The song was "Kitty's Back", and when it came time to do the solo, Bruce leaped from the edge of the stage, and landed feet first, right on the arms of my reclining chair, and standing over top of me, took his finger and shot it right down between my eyes, and screamed at me, "ROCK, YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!" I felt like I had literally been hit with a lighting bolt! I said "YEAH!!!", and he jumped from there further on into the crowd behind me finishing off his solo, then returning to the stage.

Needless to say, I never sat down for the rest of the night. Nor anyone else for that matter. This happened at a time when cops were known for harrassing people in the audience for smoking pot, etc. On this particular night, I looked around during the show, and saw several uniformed police doing dance choreography, using their nightsticks over their heads to good effect.

Everything else was a blur from that point on, as it all weent by way too fast. I think Bruce closed
with "Rosalita", and when it was all over, I profusely thanked this girl,(Lauri Wingate was her name - are you out there somewhere Lauri?) who had so graciously invited me to come, and see something that would forever change my musical outlook, and the way I perform in my own shows. I went the next day, as soon as I got up, went to the record store and bought both his albums out at that time, and immediately went home, and learned how to play and sing at least eight of the songs from those two albums.

The next time I saw him play was in Johnson City, TN in the spring of '76, and that show was truely magical, but it was a different kind of magic from this show from the E St. Shuffle" tour. For one thing, changing two critical band members cast a new sound on his music. On this night, Bruce was the ultimate, and even the epitome, of a tough street punk, and sweet soul man, with a touch of pure saint on the side. I feel really fortunate to have been there at what was the infancy of his recording career, and have witnessed his powerfully romantic street punk phase, which I really prefer over everything else he's ever done. It was a night which even after spending all this space trying to describe it, was beyond description.


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(1988 or 1988-07 or 1988-07-25)

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