1981-05-26, Brighton Centre, Brighton, England

The River Tour
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Eyewitness accounts

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Martin J. Brewer wrote: The 25th anniversary of this concert is fast approaching and yet I can recall the excitement and sheer exuberance of the gig as if it happened only yesterday. I was with a great friend, Paul Askew, and we were seated in the balcony for the first half. Bruce nonchalently took to the stage, pulled his guitar over his head and asked "how are ya doin'?" Tickets for this tour had been impossible to come by and the Brighton shows (15 miles from my hometown)were announced at the last minute. Imagine how the Willy Wonka kids felt when they got their hands on the golden ticket and you still can't imagine how we felt to finally get our hands on a ticket for the legendary Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band. The Brighton Conference Centre (as it was then known) only holds about 4,000 people. On Bruce's next tour to England he would play to crowds 20 times that size. Needless to say, every song was a highlight, from "Prove It All Night" to "Rockin' All Over The World." A personal highlight was "Factory" which reminded me of my dad's daily drudgery and never failed to strike a poignant note. The concert was packed with material from "The River" - the album that really brought Bruce to the masses in Europe. (It was not "Born To Run" as current revisionist history suggests). "The River" remains his greatest source of live material in my opinion and this concert rocked hard. It became quite a notorious concert because in the second half the over-enthusiastic crowd standing at the front actually removed the barriers separating us from the very edge of the stage. I can recall Bruce laughing his head off as this happened. My friend and I had moved downstairs for the second half and enjoyed assisting in the joyous mayhem. This sort of thing just doesn't seem to happen anymore and when Bruce implores his audience for silence these days I can't help but feel nostalgic for those more joyously spontaneous days. I was 18 at the time of this show and coming to the end of my high school years. There is no doubt that this concert closed one chapter of my life and yet opened the page on a relationship that has continued right up to the present. On a humerous final note Bruce finished the concert with the pertinent "Rockin' All Over The World". A legendary British rock band called Status Quo had had an enormous hit with this so we thought Bruce had cleverly selected a very familiar track by the long haired denim clad rockers! We all thought this so apologies to John Fogerty after all these years! They say you never forget your first time and although I now live in America and sport a distinguished touch of grey some things from this night remain untouched by time - Paul Askew remains my closest friend, "The River" remains Bruce's greatest recorded achievement and this concert will forever be my favourite show of all-time.

Lance Rooney wrote: Hello Martin and fellow Boss fans out there.

I remember this gig well as it was the first time I'd seen Bruce play live (5 times since then, with 2 gigs at Wembley Arena on the same tour, 1985 at Wembley Stadium on the Born in the USA tour, Hyde Park Calling in July 2012 and most recently 2013 in Rome).

The Brighton gig has to be my favourite one as it was the first time I was to see him live AND i was just four rows from the front, having queued up overnight for tickets in February when it was freezing cold. My most enduring memory was the opening track 'Prove It All Night' when Clarence, standing in darkness at the back of the stage, suddenly came forward, the spot light shone on him and he played his first scintillating sax solo of the night.

I'm now 33 years older, still love Bruce's music, and my daughter, who is 24 years old is also a die-hard fan, and accompanied me to the gigs at Hard Rock Calling and in Rome. We call Bruce 'the King' because he is the greatest singer, songwriter and live performer there has ever been. Where am I going for my 2014 summer holiday? Wherever 'the King' plays in Europe where I haven't visited before!

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




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