The River was the album in which the world saw Bruce Springsteen grow up. At age 31, Springsteen released an LP that spoke to and connected with “everyone-USA.” The River was built upon real life topics: marriage, children, manual labor and the future of the country. Recently, Springsteen once again treated Los Angeles to that entire album at the same exact Los Angeles venue 35 years later.
In the first of a three-night stand—and the last and final shows ever at the Los Angeles Sports Arena—Springsteen introduced the evening by saying, “By the time I got to The River, I had taken notice of the things that bond people to their lives. I figured I could make a record big enough to contain those things, maybe I would get a little closer to the answers I was looking for and the home I was trying to find.”
Walking out to full-on house lights and a steady chorus of “Bruuuuuuuuuuce” chants, Springsteen and his eight-member band jumped straight into “Meet Me In The City Tonight,” an unreleased track originally written between 1979 and 1980, and unsurprisingly just as good as classic Springsteen of that era. The River followed, in order. From “Sherry Darling,” the second album track, Springsteen worked the crowd from the front of the stage as well as a walkway toward the middle of the floor, allowing fans in the wings of the arena, as well as the back, to get closer to The Boss.
After performing the entire 1980 double album—20 songs—Springsteen and his E-Street Band were just getting warmed up. Three simple words, “That’s The River,” were said at the conclusion of the classic album. And as if Springsteen and the boys had just walked on stage, the music and energy continued as Los Angeles was treated to a dozen more songs in 85 minutes—the length of most artists’ full concerts.
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band do it with class—there was no real encore. The band never left the stage; Springsteen simply said, “Alright, let’s go,” and the house lights lit up and the band kicked into some of the greatest songs ever written: “Born To Run,” “Rosalita,” “Dancing In The Dark” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.”
But it was one song that really seemed to hit home with the Los Angeles crowd earlier that evening: “Wrecking Ball.” Not only did the song soar musically, but it had a special connection with the venue itself. Springsteen introduced the song by saying, “These are the last shows at the L.A. Sports Arena, they are going to knock this beautiful place down.” It was a moment that made the Angelinos in attendance realize how special these shows really were.
Text and photos by Kevin Estrada
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