Just in Time for Summer – Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band – Live at the Cleveland Agora 8/9/78
Springsteen fans worldwide were salivating on Thursday morning as details began to circulate of a Bruce Springsteen benefit concert from that previous night at the historic Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, NJ. The benefit show was an event that had been set up to raise money for the purpose for restoring the 80 year old theater to its original glory. The unexpected part of the night was the last minute bit that revealed that the show, which had previously been announced as a solo performance by Springsteen, would instead feature the entire E. Street Band. When is the last time YOU saw a performance from Bruce and the band in a theater seating just over 1,500? A show that instantly became a night to remember, became even more special as Springsteen led the band through full album performances of Darkness on the Edge of Town, and Born to Run, wrapping up with a four song encore set backed by a horn section that included the rarity So Young and In Love, and wrapped with the very 1978 appropriate Raise Your Hand.
2008 marks the 30th anniversary of Darkness on the Edge of Town. Plans were reportedly underway for a lavish treatment of the album, similar to the box set that was issued for Born to Run, although I've seen some recent rumors that suggest that the alleged release June release date has been bumped. It certainly isn't the first time as Springsteen fans that we've seen something slip off the release schedule, but hopefully the retrospective package will find its way onto the release schedule shortly with a definite date. I think I can speak for the average Bruce fan in making note that the Born to Run package was awesome, and certainly gives plenty to look forward to in what we might expect quality wise from a Darkness package.
The 1978 tour found Bruce and band on fire delivering many legendary performances. Luckily for all of us, there were a good number of those performances that were broadcast live on the radio and captured for posterity. A December show at Winterland was one notable performance, and my personal favorite happened earlier that year in August.
The Cleveland Agora was the scene of the crime on August 9th, 1978 for a Springsteen performance that would become legendary. The concert helped mark the 10th anniversary for local radio station WMMS, and was broadcast nationwide live as it happened on WMMS and a select network of stations including stations in Detroit, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis.
Former WMMS program director John Gorman has a great remembrance of the show:
Though there were many WMMS Tenth Anniversary concerts and events, the one that will always be first and foremost is Bruce Springsteen’s live concert broadcast at the Agora on Wednesday, August 9, 1978. For many Springsteen aficionados that show stands as Bruce and the Band’s all-time best live performance. I concur.
It wasn't long after I arrived in Cleveland in 1989, that someone found out that I was a Springsteen fan and told me about the legendary Agora performance. Bootlegs at that point, were something you found in the "special" record stores, and via mail order. It would take me about 6 years to locate my first copy of the show, via a "limited edition" bootleg called The Teenage Werewolf which had been issued, and very quickly sold out. I traded emails with a Springsteen fan in Atlanta who let me know that he had seen a copy of the bootleg in one of his local record stores. I got in touch with the store, and forked over 75 dollars plus shipping for the 3 disc set. I was stoked beyond belief. Unfortunately, that excitement turned to dismay when the CD set showed up with deep scratches on all of the discs. I was sure that my quest was doomed, but happily, the store had another copy of the bootleg. As scarce as The Teenage Werewolf had become, I couldn't believe my good fortune.
I've gone through several different versions of the show since then, with the Just in Time for Summer set being my favorite copy of them all. I pull out this show at least once a year to fulfill a request from a friend that needs a copy for someone, and often to share it with a newly encountered Springsteen fan that is unaware of the performance. My friend Michael was the most recent recipient of a copy of the Springsteen Agora show, and he asked me "is it a good show?"
After I recovered from the shock of the question that I had just heard, I told him that indeed it was a great show, a legendary show with great performances of Sherry Darling (before it was recorded,) The Promised Land......."actually, it's got great performances of a LOT of songs!" And, not to mention that it is rated as one of the top 50 essential must have "Brucelegs!"
As detailed previously, Springsteen's music (and the love and support of my parents) got me through some troubled times growing up. When I first heard the Agora show in the mid 90s, the unique renditions of so many of the Springsteen classics contained within became the soundtrack that would carry me through the early challenges of trying to make it in the "real world," as I had begun to take those essential steps involved in growing up, including the classic coming of age event, moving out of the parents' house. I had gotten my own apartment, and money was tight, but I had good music to make up for the things I was lacking financially.
Sadly, we said goodbye to longtime E. Street Band keyboard player Danny Federici nearly a month ago in April. This concert, recorded on August, 9th 1978 at the Cleveland Agora is one of the many recorded highlights that really put the spotlight on Federici, and what a great player he was.
Leave a comment, story or two, and enjoy the show! You might be a casual fan, or perhaps you are a diehard - regardless, this is one of the finest Springsteen shows you'll ever hear!
(Edit: As of 12/23/14, you can now buy this show officially from Bruce -- go here for the purchase details!)
Bruce Springsteen & The E. Street Band - Just in Time for Summer
Live at the Cleveland Agora - August 9th, 1978
01 Intro - Denny Sanders of WMMS
02 Intro - Kid Leo of WMMS
03 Summertime Blues
05 Spirit In the Night
06 Darkness On The Edge Of Town
08 The Promised Land
09 Prove It All Night
10 Racing In The Street
11 Thunder Road
01 Intro - Denny Sanders
02 Paradise By The "C"
04 Sherry Darling
05 Not Fade Away > Gloria > She's The One
06 Growin' Up
08 Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
01 Denny Sanders intro > 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
02 Born To Run
03 Because The Night
04 Raise Your Hand > Kid Leo signoff
05 WMMS Station ID by Clarence Clemons
06 WMMS Station ID by Bruce Springsteen
Southside Johnny w/ Bruce Springsteen - I Don't Wanna Go Home (Cleveland Agora 1978)
Note: The above performance is also from the Agora, taken later that month from a special appearance that Bruce made with Southside Johnny. Bruce had performed earlier that night at the Richfield Coliseum (R.I.P.) and sped over to the Agora after the show to join Southside and crew for part of their set, which was in full blaze by the time Springsteen arrived. And it only heated up from that point.