Digging Deeper Into The Springsteen Archives: Bruce At The Brendan Byrne Arena 1984
First Friday. Two words that could quickly get the attention of generations of Catholic school kids.
First Friday modern era—words that are music to the ears of Bruce Springsteen fans all over the world. Cause that’s the day that the vault gets opened and the latest in the series of the Springsteen Archive Series gets rolled out.
Today’s release is noteworthy on a couple of levels.
Personally, it’s on my Top 10 list of all-time favorite Bruce Springsteen shows. In fact, it’s probably in the Top 5.
August 20, 1984, was a Monday night and the final night of Bruce and the E Street Band’s historic 10 night sold out (duh) run of shows at the Brendan Byrne Arena at the Meadowlands. Springsteen would later eclipse those totals in that building in 1992 (11 shows) and 1999 (15 shows).
One of the things that makes this release noteworthy is that it’s the first time that 2 shows from the same run of shows have been released. The closing night now joins the opening night, August 5, 1984, which was the 5th archive release—that one came our way in May 2015.
Back in the day, the bootleg of this show was called “The Last Great Show.” Not so sure how that holds up, but as noted, this is one of the greatest shows that I’ve ever seen.
I was the night guy at WPST at that point and had to angle to get a Monday night off. I was able to make 3 of the 10 show stand, including the show the night before.
In retrospect, thankfully, there was no internet, no cell phones and no way of knowing what/who the special guests would be that night.
The only “bad” thing about the iconic “Born In The U.S.A. Tour” was the fact that Stevie Van Zandt was now out as a solo artist. In the summer of 1984, there was no bigger band or tour. Or no hotter ticket for that matter.
The setlist included a healthy dose of the two-month-old Born In The U.S.A. album, and also three stand out tracks from Nebraska, including a jaw-dropping version of “Highway Patrolman.”
The entire setlist is down below, via Brucebase.
On the heels of a titanic version of “Jungleland,” there he was resplendent in bandana—the return of Little Steven Van Zandt. Back home and on stage with the E Street Band! It was insane. And the version of “Two Hearts” that followed told you everything that you needed to know (tour premiere to boot). The surprises weren’t done by a long shot, here came the legendary Miami Horns and here came the first ever performance of the Dobie Gray classic “Drift Away.” I could have cried. I may have cried. A true moment for the ages. The version of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” from this show has long been available on the live boxed set released in 1986, so the feeling was that it was only a matter of time until this full show was made available.
As far as the Horns went, Bruce returned the favor two nights later on an off night of the tour, jamming with La Bamba & The Hubcaps at the Stone Pony. Yep, in the midst of the most massive rock & roll tour of the year, he always was able to bring it all back home. It was that kind of summer.
Those shows at the Meadowlands and the shows the following month at the Spectrum were among the very best I’ve ever been lucky enough to see.
Buy the show right here.
How fortunate we are to be able to re-live the magic in such pristine quality.
Is it Sunday morning yet??
Here is the full set ist, 8/20/84
BORN IN THE U.S.A. / OUT IN THE STREET / SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT / ATLANTIC CITY / JOHNNY 99 / HIGHWAY PATROLMAN / I'M GOIN' DOWN / DARLINGTON COUNTY / GLORY DAYS / THE PROMISED LAND / MY HOMETOWN / DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN / BADLANDS / THUNDER ROAD / HUNGRY HEART / DANCING IN THE DARK / CADILLAC RANCH / TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT (with The Miami Horns) / NO SURRENDER / COVER ME / PROVE IT ALL NIGHT / PINK CADILLAC / GROWIN' UP / BOBBY JEAN / BACKSTREETS / ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHT) / JUNGLELAND / TWO HEARTS (with Steven Van Zandt) / DRIFT AWAY (with Steven Van Zandt and The Miami Horns) / BORN TO RUN / DETROIT MEDLEY - TRAVELIN' BAND (with The Miami Horns) / TWIST AND SHOUT - DO YOU LOVE ME (with The Miami Horns)