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  • Writer's picturePete Chianca

The 10 most significant Springsteen concerts ever, according to readers

Updated: May 18

Fifty years ago, Bruce Springsteen’s future manager Jon Landau watched Bruce open for Bonnie Raitt at the Harvard Square Theatre. Given that Landau’s much-ballyhooed Real Paper column declaring that he'd seen "rock 'n' roll future" has largely been proven right over the subsequent five decades — even if he didn't get to Bruce until the 18th paragraph (what's up with that?) — it’s safe to say that performance was one of the most significant in Springsteen’s storied concert career.

But maybe not the MOST important.

At least not according to the hundreds of Springsteen fans who responded to our poll last week asking for the Boss’s most significant concert ever. Our options included some single shows — like that fateful night in Cambridge — some multi-night stands, and even the several-month stint of “Springsteen on Broadway.” And while Harvard Square made the top 10, it wasn’t the one readers say did the most to cement Springsteen’s live legacy.

So what did? See below for the top 10 most significant Springsteen shows (several of which were, maybe unsurprisingly, among the legendary shows broadcast on radio in 1978), as chosen by Blogness on the Edge of Town readers — and what they had to say about them:

"The Broadway concerts are the perfect concerts where Bruce is in full retrospective mode. Reflecting on his career and his own life. He also just released his biography and together they would make a perfect goodbye to his fans. And this got me scared he was saying goodbye. Luckily these concerts were definitely not the end. But the concerts gave a good and maybe emotional overview of his career till now." — Hans, The Netherlands

Buy "Springsteen on Broadway"

9. Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio, Aug. 9, 1978 

“Three hours plus. Broadcast by WMMS. Intro by Kid Leo. Best version of ‘Growing Up’ ever.” — Dan M., USA

Buy the Agora concert

8. Harvard Square Theatre, Cambridge, Mass., May 9, 1974 ("Rock and roll future") 

“Superheroes need origin stories.” — Steve O., Arlington, Mass.

“If the stars don't align that night does he ever get discovered?” — Dominic, Virginia

Note: Video from the early show that night, when Landau was still chowing down on a Bartley Burger at Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage, probably.

7. The Main Point, Bryn Mawr, Penn., Feb. 5, 1975

“The bootleg was amazing … hearing the bootleg of that show has influenced me and so many of my friends.” — Toronto, Canada

6. East Berlin, July 19, 1988

“Had a part in bringing down the Berlin Wall. I’d call that important for a lot of people. The others were just important for Bruce.” — Dave, St. Louis, Mo.

“As a history teacher, I often showed part of this concert when teaching about the end of the Cold War.” — David C., USA

5. "No Nukes" concerts, Madison Square Garden, Sept. 21-22, 1979

“No Nukes established the fact that Bruce was the best live performer of the 1970s, the E Street Band was a stellar musical unit, and a bright future was ahead for the 1980s.” — Paul H.,  Weybridge, UK

"After the quick 1978 Darkness tour, this was the next opportunity for the public who heard how great those shows were to actually see it again in person. I think it launched the modern Springsteen live concert experience." — Forrest S., New York

Buy the No Nukes concert

4. Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, Calif., Dec. 15-16, 1978

“I know the bootleg of that show converted most of my friends to Bruce fans.” — Mike, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Buy the Winterland concerts: Dec. 15, Dec. 16

3. The Bottom Line, NYC, Aug. 13-17, 1975

“The Bottom Line shows solidified Bruce and the E Street Band's reputation as a live band. The ‘Born to Run’ material resonated which helped the record sell. Amazing shows.” — Steve, Boston, Mass.

“Broadcast over the radio live, at a time when that sort of thing was a rarity. Established Bruce as a tour de force.” — Bob M., North Carolina

“Although most of those could be considered, it truly was The Bottom Line gigs that caught the attention and led to the Time and Newsweek covers.” — Chris R., Brooklyn, NY

2. Hammersmith Odeon, London, Nov. 18, 1975

“Put him on the map globally.” — Kyle, Framingham, Mass.

“Opened the world up to Bruce Springsteen.” — Lincoln

"My favourite is Hammersmith Odeon 1975 because Bruce was young, raw, serious and passionate. Every word he wrote and sang was something I could relate to, even though I'm English and from the other side of the world.” — Joy, Sheffield, England, UK

Buy the Hammersmith Odeon show

1. Capitol Theatre, Passaic, N.J., Sept. 19-20, 1978

“The Capitol shows were the peak of the live era of Darkness. That era fuels the best of the live shows still and showcases Bruce’s best guitar playing.” — John, Chicago, Ill.

“I believe that the 9/19/78 concert at the Capitol Theatre may have been the best show that he's ever done. I've been listening to the recording of it since ’83 and it never gets old.” — Anonymous

“Confirmed the greatness was going to continue.” — Pete, Oxfordshire, England

Buy the Capitol Theatre shows: Sept. 19, Sept. 20, Sept. 21

Most mentioned “Other” shows: 

Slane Castle, Slane, Ireland, June 1, 1985

“The start of worldwide Springsteen fever.” — Bill D., Belfast, Northern Ireland

A Night for the Vietnam Veteran, Los Angeles, Calif., Aug. 20, 1981

“I think it was an important turning point in how he approached his music and career in general. A powerful show.” — Jonathan, USA

Agree? Disagree? Got your own take? Let us know in the comments!



May 18

7/8/78, Phoenix, must be included. Why else would they release Rosalita and Prove It All Night as videos? That show was epic!


May 18

How can any list like this be ‘wrong’? It can’t, well done Sir Peter. I will quibble here and say that The Reunion Tour 1999-2000 would fit this list very well. Those last 2-3 nights morphed into a single show, beautifully edited and mixed, is an outstanding century closing representation of Bruce’s greatness as a performer.


May 17

I think the Christic Institute shows should be on this list, in terms of significance and performance. At the time they were of huge significance - presenting new material, reworked old material, appearing solo, with an uncertain future ahead without the E Street Band - pivotal shows. It started much of what follows - other band stuff, Joad, D&D - and then in turn influencing the return of the band in 99.

Marcus Feder
Marcus Feder
May 17
Replying to

Yes, agreed! Amazing to witness in person

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