1980-10-17, Kiel Opera House, St. Louis, MO

The River Tour
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Eyewitness accounts

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Wil Fennell wrote: MY FIRST BRUCE CONCERT!!! It's been almost 25 years, but I remember the concert very clearly. My buddy and I were crazed Springsteen fans--the only ones we knew from our home town in Southern Illinois--and we got two tickets for both of St. Louis shows: 10/17 and 10/18. Then we won more tickets from radio station KSHE-95 FM, and we ended up taking some kids with us the second night who'd never heard of Bruce before. Of course, they were converted that night.

The first concert--10/17--was the most impressive performance of any kind that I've ever witnessed. He opened with Born to Run, which blew me away. I just couldn't take it in at first--it was a wall of overwhelming sound!

The pacing of the show was brilliant, and I can still visualize Bruce swaying across the stage in the way that we all know, singing Thunder Road. Lots of blue stage lighting (The River theme), and Bruce moving in and out of the spotlight to add to the drama.

The River had come out just a week before the concert (if I remember correctly), but we had listened to it day and night and already knew all of the songs by heart, and so that 10/17 was a thrill for us.

As you can see from the setlist, it was almost entirely BTR, Darkness, and The River. Those were our favorites at the time. How can I describe it but to say it was a truly magical night in St. Louis!

As so many people have written over the years, Bruce's music is "timeless," and I kept thinking that night that he was bringing the '50s and '60s right into the '80s; plus he was blending rock with blues, R & B, soul, folk, country----all of American music coming together.

Bruce came across as real, human, and totally down to earth. We felt like he was one of us, and the music and the lyrics came from the same places we did. --He brought all of that feeling right into the Kiel Opera House that night---plus fabulous tunes, stories, and a little "showbiz" to boot.

I could write a novel about the show, but I'll just say that my buddy and I felt we'd experienced something just about religious that night, and we went back and played Springsteen LPs, drank beer, and talked about Bruce till morning.

The only downside is that I've never felt that tremendous impact ever again at a concert. I've seen him five times live over the years, and they were all great, but nothing has matched that first show in the way in affected me.

I live in Japan now, and I'm looking forward to the next time I can meet up with Bruce and the E Street Band!


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

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