Today: Bruce Springsteen played Roxy LA in 1978

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“…all them bootleggers out there in radio-land, roll your tapes!”
– Bruce Springsteen (Roxy, 1978)

One of the best concerts in the history of rock took place at the Roxy 7 July in 1978.

Some of you may already be familiar with one of the many bootlegs from this show, but for those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure. I would strongly recommend you to seek it out, they are fairly easy to find on the web.

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When I first got a copy of “Roxy Night” I played it constantly for four days. In the house, on my discman (google it, young folks) and in the car, I couldn’t get enough. It was and still is the best bootleg I have ever heard.

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It’s a radio broadcast of a show Bruce Springsteen did at the Roxy Theater in Los Angeles in July of 1978, 8 songs from this concert were used on Bruce’s official Live 1975-85 album, albeit in an edited form (and too extensive editing in a song or two, a 5 and a half minute long “Sad Eyes” interlude was cut out of the version of this performance included on the Live 1975-85 release). Once a person hears the unedited version of “Backstreets,” they realize how much that is missing in the released/edited version. This show must be heard in its unedited entirety.

Full Concert at The Roxy 1978:

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I have more than 300 hundred Bruce Springsteen shows/bootlegs on CD/Vinyl or Hard-disk (and I’ve heard a lot more!) and this is one of my all time favorite shows.

roxy78 crowd

It’s from the so called Darkness Tour. The atmosphere is electric throughout due to the intimacy of the venue (The Roxy only held 500 people) and the fact that those who did get in are really big fans (he apologizes at the start of the concert to those poor unfortunates who had queued up all day in the heat and were still unable to get in).

Roxy 7 vinyl

The performance is incredible, and though it is true that there are bootlegs from later on in the tour that collectors often prefer because the songs from the Darkness on the edge of town album are more full, more fleshed out (such as the radio broadcast of the Winterlands show in San Francisco from 15-12-78 or the Passaic shows), but they don’t have the electric energy that runs through this set, it is a perfect Bruce Springsteen concert.

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 Set List:


Heartbreak Hotel:

From Brucebase:

“FM broadcast. Remarkable setlist includes the premieres of “Point Blank”, “Rave On” and “Heartbreak Hotel”. Another live debut “Independence Day” is performed solo on piano for only time on the tour. “Point Blank” features different lyrics to later versions and is played slightly differently. Also includes the first known tour performances of both “Twist And Shout” and “Raise Your Hand”.

Originally broadcast on KMET FM Radio. “Point Blank” and “Thunder Road” have been edited where the original broadcast had problems. Probably one of the best shows Bruce will ever do.

Available on many unofficial LPs and on CDs ‘Roxy Night’ (Crystal Cat), ‘Hands Towards The Sky’ (Lobster Records) and most recently on CDR ‘No Private Party’ (Ev2). This show was one of the main source concerts for the official Live 1975-85 box set, which includes no less than eight recordings from this show (“Spirit In The Night”, “Paradise By The ‘C’”, “Adam Raised A Cain”, “Growin’ Up” [with a few cuts in the middle-part “lawyer” story], “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”, a heavily edited “Backstreets” with the “Sad Eyes” sequence removed and part of the third verse switched with another show, “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” and “Raise Your Hand”). Another performance recorded that night, “For You”, was later released as a B-side/bonus track on 7”/12” vinyl worldwide, and on CD in Japan only (Live Collection EP). In addition, a short live excerpt from this show (Bruce’s speech given after “Badlands” about a photo recently taken of him) was officially – and exclusively – released on a promotion-only 7” flexidisc issued to subscribers of Austrian pop magazine “Rennbahn Express” in June 1981. Thanks to Lost in the flood for the update.”

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Dave March (“Bruce Springsteen Raises Cain” – Rolling Stone Magazine):

“…he comes on with a performance that deserves to be preserved: when a guitar has to be sent backstage for repairs, he calls a brief conference, and the band suddenly steps forward and sings, of all things, “Heartbreak Hotel,” with Bruce as the very incarnation of his hero. There’s an encore performance of “Independence Day,” another of those songs that didn’t make Darkness, this one the most moving ballad version of the “Adam Raised a Cain” story I have ever heard. During “Quarter to Three,” three hours into the set, Bruce climbs to the balcony and sings a chorus there before he leaps ten feet down to the piano, by some miracle uninjured. The houselights go up, and the kids are on their feet, chanting-no one is going home. And even when the announcement comes that the band has left the building, no one moves. “Br-u-ce, Bru-ce” the chant goes on and on, and suddenly the curtain is raised, and there they are (Max Weinberg fresh from the shower). They roll into “Twist and Shout” and finally, nearly four hours after it all began, the show is over.

Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn is at a loss for words. “How do I come back and review this show,” he says despairingly, “after I just said that the Forum was one of the best events ever in Los Angeles? Who’s gonna believe me?” Maybe, I can only suggest, that is everybody else’s problem.”

The quality on these bootlegs are on level with official releases, just incredible all through.

I believe that these 1978 broadcasts were instrumental in Springsteens carreer, people would hear what a fantastic live artist he was (over and over again, in fact). They were promotions for his concerts and he didn’t release any live albums officially, in that sense this was an important part in establishing him as a great live act. After this tour he went on to bigger arenas on the River tour.

As an avid Springsteen follower, I have attended quite a few concerts, but I wish that I could have experienced one of those legendary 1978 shows live. Now my only option is bootlegs. And what fantastic bootlegs there are out there in cyberspace.

 Of the many versions of this concert, I think the one to get is:
No Private Party (Ev2)


Let’s hope that Springsteen will start doing an “archives” series, like the Rolling Stones and The Who are doing, then the big public will finally see what those  years were like.

The songs are great and Bruce’s talk between the songs are very entertaining, little stories or anecdotes about his life at home or with the band.

“Hey! Hey! Alright…seen my picture in the papers yesterday, I was on the front page…that was a funny picture, I looked like I was catching flies, y’know…I had my mouth wide-open, like, i don’t know, heyyyy, I always take those kind of shots..anyway!”

Intro to a great Racing in the Street:
“This is a song….It’s funny ’cause like I go out – I go out with my girlfriends,ya’ know, I take ’em out in my car. And we drive around and anytime the car breaks down, they say ‘Well hey, ya’ know, wait I’m buzzing…they say ‘You’re the guy, you write the songs about the cars all the time, you fix the car!’ And me like, when I go under the hood, it’s…Alice lost in wonderland. Hey uh, where’s this go? Where’s, ya’ know, it’s like…I don’t know anything about that stuff, but I think I understand the spiritual and religious significance of the 396, so…. So I write these songs, anyway and it’s like, this is for everybody driving around, listening to this in their car… This is Racing In The Street…”

Racing in the street:

My favorite song in the concert is Backstreets, with the Sad Eyes interlude (not the song he later released). This was sadly edited out on the released version on Live 1975-1985, so you need to get one of the many “boots”.

Here are the “lyrics”/talk:

“I remember you….baby, I remember you….standing on the corner….of Richmond Avenue….and I remember I´d….I remember back then I´d…..I´d drive all night….I swore I´d drive all night…..just to buy you some shoes….and to taste, and to taste your tender charms….to have you hold me in your arms….to have you hold me in your arms….and for just one look…..for just one look….from your sad eyes….you had such pretty sad eyes, you had such pretty….sad eyes…I remember they….cried all night, they cried all night, we let ´em cry till they´re all cried out, they cry all night…baby, they´d cry all night….and I held you….and only me and you knew….that, baby, only me and you knew….the way they could lie….the way they could lie….they could tell such pretty lies….they could tell such pretty lies….and now you´re back….and now you´re back…..well, little girl, I´m back too ….and I’ve been out and I’ve seen some things….yeah, I’ve been out, I´ve been seeing some things….I’ve been out and I’ve seen some things….and baby, I’ve learned a thing or two about me and you….and all I wanna know is why….all I wanna know´s why….all I wanna know´s why….why…baby, I wanna know why….baby, just….I want you….I want you….to look into my face…..just look…..into my face….just look….into my face….look into my face….look into my face….look into my face….and tell me why….I wanna know why….you lie….you lie….you lie…and we´ll go….hiding on the backstreets….”

Backstreets (unedited):

It is rightfully seen as a contender for best show ever. There is an anger, an eagerness and an urgency in the performance that, I believe, are seldom replicated later.

– Hallgeir

Sources: Several liner notes, Rolling Stone Magazine,,, Post on the Pstereo website (it is sadly ended)

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