Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Boot Tracker, Oktober 9th 1980, Cobo Hall, Detroit

Today we've got a special anniversary conversion show submitted by John Urban, who aptly goes under the guise of Converted at Cobo on the forums. I think John captures the exitement of cherry poppin' time quite nicely!

October 9th, 1980 was the night I caught, or rather was caught by my first Bruce Springsteen concert, and though twenty eight years have passed, I still remember that night and its affect on what I would expect from Rock and Roll ever since. That year, I was the sixteen year old neighbor of a very dedicated Bruce fan, and he had loaned me his collection of Bruce's studio albums hoping to hear something other than KISS blaring out of my bedroom window. We used to sit in his basement with those albums; song after song would play and he'd give me the 'oh, and during this song, Bruce would….' so I was familiar with the music, I'd heard legendary tales of his performances and I'd had a taste of the live experience when I taped the Agora 78 rebroadcast on local station, WABX a year prior. I wanted to complete the circle though; I wanted to see him live.

As my junior year in high school began, tickets went on sale for the River Tour. I was in a real bind though; my circle of friends didn't like Bruce's music, I didn't have a driver's license yet to get me there if I had a ticket, and while my neighbor promised me a ticket if one was left, they were eaten up right away, and now with less than a week until the show, I'd given up hope on going. I went to the first dance of the school year, and found my usual place in the corner by the bleachers. Another friend that I'd only just met the summer before found me there and bragged that he had tickets to the concert. Before I could congratulate him in as deep a sarcastic tone as I could muster, he followed with, 'and Mark has an extra ticket if you're interested in going.' I could have passed out.

The day of the show was a beautiful Indian Summer day, and my friend picked me up in his Chevy convertible. With Born To Run blaring from his tape deck, we drove off to meet up with the rest of his friends and then headed down to Cobo Arena. (Many sources credit the name of the venue as Cobo Hall, but that is actually the adjoining convention center.) We passed the time buying our tour shirts and some Pepsi's, chanted 'BROOOOCE' along with the anxious sell-out crowd of 12,000 as each pre-show song faded out, and checked out the instruments on stage; Clarence's saxophone gleamed under the houselights, Roy's grand piano sat there like the long black Cadillac Bruce would be singing about later that night during Cadillac Ranch, and at the center of the stage, like a holy relic on an alter, Bruce's Telecaster.

True to form, the published start time came and went, and the crowd grew even more impatient until at last the pre-show music shut off mid song and simultaneously the houselights went dark. A thunderous roar rose from the audience as flashlights guided band members to their places, and then after a moment, Max's drum roll marked the beginning of Born To Run. They followed with Prove It All Night and then the account of the band's history in Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out before finally slowing down for Darkness on the Edge of Town and Independence Day. A song that had appeared during the Darkness tour, Independence Day was now an upcoming release on The River which was still another five days from the record stores. Bruce played brave that night; twelve of the twenty eight songs came from that album, yet it seemed the audience was still very much into the new music despite the unfamiliarity, not using those songs for bathroom or beer runs.

This show confirmed what until that night had seemed like tales of legend I'd heard from my neighbor: Bruce went into the crowd to dance during Sherry Darlin', he climbed onto the speakers to lean out over the audience during Crush On You, he bantered with Clarence during Fire and dueled with him prior to their 'Bring It Up' shout during Rosalita, and ignoring Roy's finger shaking wave off, Bruce jumped up onto that grand piano for big air on one of his song ending leaps.

The length of the show matched expectations as well. It seemed that Bruce would never leave, extending the Detroit Medley to include what turned out to be the first ever I Hear A Train. As 1980's only Quarter to Three followed, Bruce finally began begging the audience to let him go; late night Kojak re-runs were on, and Bruce never missed an episode. Assured it was an episode he'd already seen, Bruce broke back into the conclusion of that song and sadly, the end of the concert. As Bruce left, my friends and I sat back down in our seats exhausted and soaked with sweat, hoping for but not getting one of those mid tear-down surprise encores we'd heard about. But how it was that we seemed just as physically drained as Bruce looked reveals the connection Bruce has a talent for creating with his audience; he gives and the audience gives right back. Music isn't just played for the ears, it's owned, molded into something visual, then repeated over the course of three and a half hours with sheer determination.

I arrived home about 12:30 am on that school night; aware of the length of his shows from that Agora broadcast, I'd luckily renegotiated my curfew with my parents ahead of time. I went to bed that night cemented as a fan, that Agora tape playing into my ringing ears, feeling lucky that I'd gotten that ticket, and replaying all that I had seen and heard. I fell asleep knowing that I would be preaching to my friends the next day, as much like the prophet that my neighbor had been to me. Bruce claims that he picks out one particular audience member and uses him or her as his inspiration for his shows. I doubt that he could see me in my upper deck, second from the back row seat, but I can let him claim another successful Brucifixion.

"Born to Run"

MP3 File
The original recording of this show was not in the best shape when I received it. Drop outs due to tape flips have been patched, and the playback speed (which ran fast) has been corrected in the files submitted.

Full Show:

Disc 1
, Disc 2, Disc 3.
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a mp3 based CD in a trade. The quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It might have been apt to also comment further on WABX being such a great rock station then, and how rock radio in the intervening years has become anemic. Ironically, WABX ended around that same time.