1978-09-19, Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ

Darkness on the Edge of Town Tour
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Broadcast live in the New York area on WNEW-FM. Live feed was also networked to other cities, including Hartford, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. This is one of Bruce's most legendary shows and some say best. It has been immortalized on bootlegs such as Piece de Resistance and Passaic Night.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
chris walton wrote: i was there. 6th row center. ticket cost 8.50 @ jacks in red bank. i was 11. it changed my life. my older brother taped it with small cassette recrder off radio wnew. talked to vin scelsa afterward. im youngest of 10 kids. mom let me off school if i went with sister patty (who is now married to chuck tallent-garys little brother-) anyway we went at like 6 am got about 6 tickets and i said i was going!! even though i only heard "moaning" through my sisters closed doors when they were listening to bruce in the late 70's, i knew i had to be there. since then ive seen maybe 50 plus shows. but none like that tuesday night in passaic!!

arlen schumer wrote: To all those old enough and lucky enough to have first experienced Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live during the Darkness tour, Bruce and the Band (in its longest-running version) have never been better, on a pure music level; sure, there have been larger shows, 'grander' shows, shows with more spectacle (performing in front of a giant flag); but for maximum rock and roll, shows during the Darkness tour can't be beat. And of those shows, the December 15, 1978 performance at the Wintergarden, San Francisco (broadcast on radio and bootlegged on CD as 'Live in the Promised Land') is usually considered the best among fans.

But not by me. I wasn't there, but I've listened to it, and it's always sounded thin to me, with Max's drums especially sounding weak; the show couldn't actually have sounded like that. Nevertheless, Winterland doesn't measure up to what I think is the best show of the Darkness tour: September 19, 1978 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. It too was broadcast and bootlegged on CD ('Piece de Resistance'), and it sounds tremendous: a booming, thunderous performance played to a diamond-hard precision, with every instrument mixed and balanced perfectly. It sounds exactly like the show sounded: when Bruce's guitar rips into the 'Prove it All Night' solo, it sounds like a buzzsaw's berserk drone; when Clarence blows the first note of any solo, the crowd roars like when a baseball player hits a home run. I know, because I was there.

It was only the third time I had ever seen Bruce (my first being his headlining debut at Madison Square Garden on August 21, followed by Springfield, Mass. on 9/13), but it's the closest I've ever been (6th row center). The show was the first of a three night stand, considered a 'homecoming' by the Capitol Theatre's owner, John Scher, following Bruce's summer-long country-wide Darkness tour. He wanted to make it special, and had the Capitol marquee illustrated to mark the event; I was the lucky artist commissioned to do it (I had met Ken Viola, the creator and publisher of the first Bruce magazine, Thunder Road, at the beginning of the summer; he's head of security for Scher, and recommended me for the job). I negotiated a special fee for the illustration: 6 sixth-row seats for myself and my friends. We all saw the show of our lives.

Though the entire Darkness tour was brilliant, and Bruce and the E Streeters have always seemed to play an impossible level tighter for radio broadcasts (1975's 'The Saint, The Incident and the Main Point Shuffle' and Stockholm '88 are my two favorites), this Capitol Theatre show still stands above the rest, because at least 5 songs stand out as definitive live versions of not only the Darkness tour, but of Bruce's career: Promised Land, Prove it All Night, the extended Backstreets with the 'Sad Eyes' interlude, Because the Night, and She's the One (with the 'Not Fade Away' prelude).

Listen to how full the band sounds when it kicks into the main theme of 'Promised Land' after Bruce's harmonica intro; or how Garry's bass parries Clarence's sax in the solo. Max's machine gun drumming at the end of 'Prove it...,' Roy's jazzy piano at the beginning. The seamless transition from 'Not Fade Away' -- with Bruce singing like Elvis on alternate lines--to 'She's the One' and Steven's tasty rhythm guitar licks up front in the mix; Bruce's screaming, wrenching guitar solos on the aforementioned 'Prove it...,' 'Because the Night' and 'Backstreets.'

Ah, 'Backstreets.' While I'm also partial to the version played at Jacksonville, Florida in '77 (with the monumental 'You lied!!!'), once again, Capitol Theatre is my desert island 'Backstreets.' This version of the 'Sad Eyes' interlude sounds the most like spoken-word poetry/performance art to me; you can really hear Bruce's measured breathing suyncopating with Roy's music-box piano. The buildup of 'Little girl we've got to stop' to its crashing crescendo sounds as awesome as it was to behold: the stage going pitch black (Marc Brickman's lighting) on Bruce's final 'Stop!,' the crowd hushed and then exploding a moment later, as the band begins to reassemble, individual spotlights fading in until the white light finale of the 'Backstreets' theme recapitulation, leading to Bruce's closing wordless howls--some of his best ever--over a most orchestral grandeur. Winterland's 'Backstreets' compared to this?

To this day, I have yet to hear any Darkness show that can hold a candle to this Capitol Theatre show, song for song, note for note. It's perfect. It's Bruce's de facto live album.

mark wrote: iwasnt even born when bruce played this show, but i have this concert on cd. Amd i agree with the comments of the person below Arlen Schumer! I have heard alot of bruce concerts, alot!! And for me on this nite it was the best concert that bruce ever done! From the tingle of roys piano, to maxs drumming to bruces giutar etc it is unstoppable! If anyone asks me why i like bruce so much i play them this concert!And for me on this nite this is the best version of badlands ever!!

Greg Arnold wrote: Arlen, I have a copy of your artwork from this show hanging in my home! Many, many friends comment on it...Bruce with his guitar rising above the Capitol Theatre in lovely, dowtown Passaic, NJ.

I was at the show, and initially somewhat dissappointed. I knew it was going to be broadcast live on WNEW, and I thought I had tickets for the show on the 20th. So I figured I'd fire up the tape deck (and a doobie or 2) listen to the show, and get ready for the next night. My friend who got the tickets shows up at my apartment on the 19th saying "let's go"! So, off we went to Passaic. What a freakin night!

One of the more amazing things about the show was that after they palyed Detroit Medley, th ehouse lights went up, and the side doors to the Capitol opened up, and people started leaving. Then off wen the lights, the doors closed, and they came out for Raise Your Hand.

As great as the show was, I was bummed that I didn't get the chance to tape it. Prayers were answered when my brother gave me the show on cassette for my b'day a month later.

Have Passaic Night on CD now, and my kids love it...

Great concert, great memories.

PS - For whatever its worth, the Passaic theatre is also some friends and I went to see another great horn player...Linda Lovelace in "Deep Throat"!

Ralph from Jersey wrote: Somehow, I did not go to this show. I had been to a few shows on the "Darkness" tour and had been to Madison Square Garden a month earlier in August. I guess when I heard that it was going to be on WNEW-FM, I just decided to stay home and record it. I had been to Capitol a bunch of times and some friends were going, but I needed to get it onto a cassette tape so that I could capture what we knew would be a killer show. It really was a "Piece de Resistance!"

For many years, I have told this story and will now tell it one more time - for the disciples out there who would understand what it means to reach the promised land.

If I was not a the show, where was I? I had just graduated from Rutgers and, as a good Jersey guy, I moved back home with my folks. It was a little edgy being there, but it was cool. I had some space and could go to some clubs like "The Old Straw Hat" in Green Brook to see bands like "Willow Street" and "Joe Bonanno and the Godsons of Soul".

But, that night, I was home. My stereo was set up in the living roon of the house and the show was starting at 8pm. I was ready. I sat down at my Nikko 7075 receiver, put on my headphones and put a six-pack next to me. Right there. Right in the living room. Right next to my folks who kept walking by all night and asking if I was okay, or if I needed anything. I was entrenched in the concert and oblivous to almost everything going on around me. It was truly the poor man's version of the promised land.

While FM radio was cool, for some reason I kept getting static on 102.7 and needed to sit up, take notice and keep hitting the filters on my receiver so that I could get a good recording. As the night went on, all I could do was to make sure that I fine-tuned the radio so that it would be as good as it could be. I succeeded and played that cassette until I somehow bought a clean copy of that show at the New's Year's Eve show at Nassau Coliseum a few years later.

So, what about Ls Piece de Resistance? A true masterpiece. From the opening chords of Badlands, Streets and Spirit, you could tell that Bruce was kicking off his homecoming shows and was ready to rock. The combination of the intro of The Promised Land that ran into a strong Prove It All Night was awesome as Bruce played with the crowd both at the show and in radioland. By the time that he played my favorite concert tune, Kitty's Back, we were just coming out of an epic Meeting Across The River into Jungleland combo - and the Big Man nailed that sax solo. We thought that we had no emotional energy left.

But, the show was only half over...

The Buddy Holly beat of Not Fade Away into She's The One was masterful and we could have listened to Max all night long, but then came everyone's concensus highlight of the night - Backstreets - with the Little Girl You Lied and You've Got To Stop interludes. You could hear a pin drop all the way into that living room in West Orange, NJ. Hiding on the Backstreets...we'd swear forever friends (still my signature line when I send notes to my Bruce friends). Best version ever.

As the show wound UP, the roller coaster of emotions continued when the girls came along - Rosie, Sandy, Wendy. Wow. What a night.

All I can say is that I was almost there - just like hundreds of thousands of others on that night. If you have ever been to any concert of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, you get it. And, you were there, too.

Forever friends, Ralph from Jersey.

Amina wrote: I remember listening to this show live on the radio. I had been a fan for some years but could never get tickets so this was the closest thing to my first live show. I invited a friend over to listen but she couldn't make it so I just stayed next to the radio in my one room apt., transfixed. When he sang Darkness I was right there with him, up on that hill, with everything I've got.


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