With the news that the Rochester show has been postponed to Wednesday brings the first Halloween night show for Bruce since 1992.
History and past performances tell us that this is one of Bruce’s favorite holidays. Now that Halloween festivities at his house are no longer an annual event – a victim of “catastrophic success” and too many visitors in his neighborhood, as he wrote on his website a few years ago, here’s hoping he has something up his sleeve for the fans in Rochester instead.
Bruce has had four prior special performances for Halloween:
1. October 31, 1980 – Los Angeles Sports Arena
Bruce is carried on stage in a coffin and starts the show with a cover of “Jumpin'” Gene Simmons’ “Haunted House.” Youtube (audio) link is here. This performance was previously discussed on this site as one of Bruce’s best one-time-only covers. Lesser known about this show is that Bruce also did a special cover this night to start the show’s second set: the instrumental “Out of Limits” (a takeoff on the “Outer Limits” television show theme), originally done by the Marketts in 1964.
2. October 31, 1984 – Los Angeles Sports Arena
The show starts with a skit about “midnight in Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory,” and how “they were trying to awaken the monster. They tried all sorts of scientific methods, such as the mystery of electricity…then they tried to awaken his sexual perceptions…and then they performed an attack on his auditorial system (as “Louie Louie” is blasted)…but nothing seemed to work.”
“But then they tried Professor Frankenstein’s foolproof monster-wake-up, and then out of the darkness came a mystery man” – and Bruce is presented a guitar, leaps out of the coffin, and starts playing “High School Confidential.”
(A further description of the night’s proceedings can be found in Dave Marsh’s Glory Days).
3. October 31, 1992 – Target Center, Minneapolis
A special keyboard introduction by Roy leads into a rare “Spirit in the Night” opener.
Bonus – October 30, 2007 – Los Angeles Sports Arena
No special song this time, but back at the Sports Arena (this time, the night before Halloween), Bruce is again carried on stage in a coffin. Steve presents him a guitar and he asks “Is there anybody alive out there?” as he starts the standard “Radio Nowhere” opener. Video of these events was originally shown on Bruce’s website and can be found on Youtube here.
Note: there was also a Halloween show during the Born to Run tour in 1975 but there is no known tape and no known details about anything “special” for the holiday.
Special Songs for Rochester?
What might Bruce break out on Wednesday night? There are many possible choices, and not just the ones discussed above:
5. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”. Yes, it’s obvious. Yes, it’s cliched. But that didn’t stop Bruce from playing this rarity in Paris this past July 4, either.
4. Wages of Sin.” This Nebraska era-outtake may only have a tenuous connection to Halloween – one particular lyric about “the devil snapping at my heels” (a line that was also used in “My Father’s House”) – but the general mood of the song and the verse about the narrator trying to make it home through the woods before darkness falls are plenty spooky on their own. Never before performed live, this song resides on the famous Disc 2 of Tracks, well known to be a favorite of Steve Van Zandt. The past three tours have included the live premieres of “Ricky Wants a Man of Her Own,” “Restless Nights,” and “Living on the Edge of the World,” all from that same Disc 2, so perhaps this one’s not totally out of the question.
3. “Monster Mash.” Novelty songs have their place, and that the crowd will know it certainly helps its chances. The band (in particular, the backup singers) should have no problem with this. A possibility for the encore, particularly if there’s a sign requesting it.
2. “Werewolves of London.” Part of what has made Hurricane Sandy so big of a storm is the high tides associated with the full moon. Technically, the full moon is today but that’s close enough for some howling on Wednesday night. Even without the connection to the storm, this classic by Bruce’s friend Warren Zevon would perfect for the occasion.
1. “A Night with the Jersey Devil.” Notable as the first time Bruce released original material on his website, this composition was made available on Halloween 2008 as an MP3 download with an accompanying video. Halloween night in Rochester seems as likely a time as any for the live debut of this composition, which gave writing credits to “Bruce Springsteen / Robert Jones / Gene Vincent.” Check out the official video here and keep your fingers crossed for Wednesday!