Roy Bittan - piano; Clarence Clemons - saxophone; Danny Federici - organ; Bruce Springsteen - vocals, guitar; Garry Tallent - bass; Steven Van Zandt - guitar; Max Weinberg - drums
Get comfortable, 'cuz all the stories are true - the E Street Band came to play, and they're not gonna stop until the roof caves in! This is powerful rock 'n' roll revivalism and Springsteen makes the heat rain down upon the assembled Winterland parishioners.
Years before punk deconstructed popular music as a violent protest against the bloated rock 'n' roll dinosaurs staggering from stadium to stadium, Bruce Springsteen was earnestly providing his own alternative to bone-headed riffing and cowbell solos, putting out albums that echoed a simpler time while thoughtfully chronicling the plight of the workin' man on his eternal quest for Saturday Night.
Concentrating on material from their recent release, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Springsteen and his crew lay into the first half of this set with reckless abandon, reserving the early hits and holiday cheer for the second half. As soon as they take the stage, it's all lost love and drag races and full-throttle rock 'n' roll; then factory walls and plaintive piano with dusty, wheezing harmonica. This is the whole history of 20th century America set to music, geared up and rolling down the highway 'till everyone, audience included, is ready to pass out. Then, about an hour after they should be taking their bows, the band launches into "Born to Run" with an emotional fury that would kill a group of weaker constitution. It's like Phil Spector meets Jack Kerouac, hooked up to about a dozen car batteries. Then they play an encore!
In two short weeks the Winterland would shut its doors for good. Fittingly, Bill Graham brought in the Grateful Dead for the official last concert, but for many present at Springsteen's show, the Winterland really closed on December 15th.