1980-10-03, Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, MI

The River Tour
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Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
Mike B wrote: Six of us drove from Michigan State in a Vega station wagon. So excited when we arrived at Crisler that we bought tickets from the first scalper we met (and paid a premium for not waiting). Seats were spread out, so we sort of moved around during the show and got whatever we could. Highlight of the show was Bruce and Seger on Thunder Road - especially for Detroit boys. After the show a local roadie we knew from high school got us a bass drum cover as a souvenier. We waited by the tour bus and got everyone to sign it, including Max we drew a drum set under his name. Last to come out was Bruce who shook hands but then ran onto the bus past my buddy who was holding the drum cover. My good friend Kyle jumped on the front of the bus and with all the crowd yelling for Bruce to come out, the doors swung open and Bruce appeared. He signed "Prove it all Night" and Kyle went running off into the night with the souvenier over his head. That was one of those moments!

iko wrote: Besides this being a great show (including the impromptu appearance of Bob Seeger and Bruce singing encores from notes because he had already played all the rehearsed material), I will remember this show for another unusual occurence. I was living in Hamtramck, MI, at the time and got tickets as soon as they went on sale. Given the smallish venue, it sold out quickly and the word around Detroit was that tickets for this show were either gone, gone, gone, or astronomically priced. Given that Ann Arbor is almost an hour's drive from Detroit, few people that did not have tickets bothered to come out to the show. When we arrived at the arena shortly after the scheduled start time (the band was just coming on stage), there were a number of scalpers standing around outside trying to outdo each other just to get rid of handfuls of unsold tickets for just a couple of bucks each. I suppose I should have bought one to keep as a souvenier, but my head was elsewhere at the time....

TM wrote: It was a little different because The River had not actually come out yet. so some of the songs were unfamiliar. He did forget the words and I think at one point pulled out a sheet with the words on it. And of course when Seger came on it was awesome. All in all a great night was had by all.

MJB wrote: Okay, so we're nearly 25 years removed from this one, but not all history is recorded at the moment, don't you know.

Anyway, a few things stand out from this one. The first is that Springsteen chose to open his River tour in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on the surface hardly a hotbed of fan fervor for the East Coast icon. But since so many Easterners go to school at the University of Michigan, there was no shortage of enthusiasm for the show, reflected primarily in the long (long!) line of fans that waited for days to buy tickets.

Come showtime, Crisler Arena was filled with long-time Springsteen devotees, as well as some acolytes who were being introduced to the Great Man by friendly sherpa guides.
It was a good mix -- and a helluva way for Springsteen to mount a frontal assault on the Midwest market.

Then The Man came out...and he promptly forgot the words to Born to Run. Really. But nobody cared, since they were all singing along.

It was a full show, featuring plenty from the new album and older chestnuts, although not so much from the first two albums. (There was the obligatory Rosie encore.) Springsteen took the crowd up and then back down, only to surge up again.

The second-set starter, Point Blank (i think) was dramatic and poignant, and the Detroit Medley (of course!) encore really tore it up.

Then came the surprise. Bob Seger was in the crowd, and Springsteen brought him out for a song. Nobody cared that it was a second version of Thunder Road. Seeing the two stars on stage together was enough. They could have sung Happy Birthday and raised the roof.

In the end, it was a triumphant night for Springsteen. He had started his tour in a new place and succeeded on a grand scale.


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