1980-12-09, The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

The River Tour
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Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
John wrote: Although I missed the first half of this concert, the second half was the best show I've ever seen. I too have tried to explain the emotion in the Spectrum that night. When Bruce got to Hungry Heart we sang the whole thing and later in the show he said it was his turn and played it again. Also Twist and Shout was lie like the Beatles were lit on the Ed Sulivan Show in soft blue

Kevin wrote: I also was at this show. It was the first time I saw Bruce and remember being blown away by his (and the band's)energy. I recall Bruce at the outset saying the band wanted to postpone the show out of respect for John Lennon and Bruce's response that they could not do that because this was a night they had to play. It was very emotional (I remember banners hanging in the Spectrum in Lennon's memory by fans) and I remember Bruce at the end telling us the first song he ever learned to play on guitar was a song he first from the Beatles and they sang Twist and Shout. I remember Bruce and Clarence playing off each other with Santa hats during Santa Claus is Coming to Town...and the Detroit Medley...and Independence Day and all those great River songs.
After this show, I did not go to another concert for several years because I had already seen the ultimate show.
Still the best show I've ever seen all these years later (although I've seen Bruce on several tours since then and they always come close)

don wrote: my very first bruce show. thanks for taking me pete!!!! will never forget it and to this day and 42 shows later its still the best i have ever seen. god bless the philly spectrum as it is due to see its final days. saw bruce there more times than anywhere else and i have always had a love for the old girl.

RPM wrote: 25 Shows and this was the most intense. Bruce was almost desperate in his energy. I recall Bruce deciding to have more fun later in the concert, dancing with a "Rocky" type hat on.

Mike D. wrote: Many times since this show, I've tired to explain the power of this night to my friends and fellow fans.

Their ability to go on with this show, on the heels of John Lennon being shot; and open with a speech that paid full tribute to the importance of John Lennon on Bruce's life (on all of our lives) - he mentioned something to the effect that if it wasn't for John Lennon he wouldn't be where he was,and that sometimes all you can do is go out there and play; then launched right into Born To Run....unexplainable power; if that wasn't enough, he closes with Twist and Shout...it was a fitting and powerful combination of rocking the house down, and making everyone (and I mean everyone) cry.

Maybe the years have taken liberties with the exact sequence of events in my memory, but the importance of that show will never fade. There will never be another show I will see that will match that.

Danny wrote: I concur with Mike D. I was 13 and it was my first Bruce show! I can't explain the electricity and emotion that permeated the Spectrum on that nite. I have never experienced a Bruce show or any show that had generated that type of raw emotion. He and the band I have seen almost a hundred times since and nothing has ever come close to that nite. Born to Run just exploded and the next three plus hours were just amazing. I haven't heard songs like Jungleland or Thunder Road ever performed better.

Scott wrote: I can only echo these comments. Have seen him many times over the years and have many "favorite" shows but this will always be #1. The opening was very powerful and the ending even more so. It seemed like he played all night.

Ray Cascella wrote: I will always remember this show because it was the night after John Lennon was killed. Rather than the normal 1-2-3-4 and into Born to Run, Bruce spoke about how "they say I have to play tonight after such a great loss to music," mentioning Lennon and the influence he had on Bruce and how we must rock on tonight and move forward, as Lennon would of wanted. After a great setlist as usual, a special tribute of Twist and Shout ended the show.

Jack M. wrote: My first Bruce concert. I brought a few guys who weren't big Bruce fans but the concert changed all that. As I remember it, Bruce said at first he didn't want to play; that the first tune he learned on the guitar was a John Lennnon tune. But he didn't know what else to do and then broke into Born to Run. Incredible. Then after he played his encore, the lights came up and everyone started putting their coats on, the band started walking off then turned around, got their instruments and broke into Twist and Shout - obviously the "first tune" Bruce had alluded to earlier. Still the best concert I've ever seen.

Mark wrote: I had seen Bruce a few times before this and many times since - this was easily the best ever. My GF got me tix for my birthday, only problem was she was a huge Beatles fan. She had been crying all day, and when Bruce opened the show with his remarks she burst into tears again. She wasn't alone - I would say half the place was crying. But the band was remarkable that night, pouring all they had into that show. And then the encore of Twist & Shout, with all the lights on, you could clearly see more than half the crowd in tears. Very emotional night.

Bob M wrote: I scalped tix outside and sat 10 rows away on the side. Bruce kept gritting his teeth looking at the rest of the band. Getting them to play at a fevered pace that was unreal. They were looking at each other in amazement. I've been to 38 shows. That was my 5th. The best concert in the history of Bruce & E Street. Miami said that and Max told me that himself. I have a poor recording of it. Hopefully a good one will surface.


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