Bruce Springsteen and Halloween Night (and Rochester wishlist)

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 “Twilight Zone” 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!

9 comments on “Bruce Springsteen and Halloween Night (and Rochester wishlist)

  1. Shawn Poole says:

    Nice, fun roundup. FYI, “Out of Limits” actually is a surf version of the theme from “The Twilight Zone,” not “The Outer Limits.” (Not sure how The Marketts’ instrumental ever came to be called “Out of Limits” instead of something associated with “The Twilight Zone,” especially since apparently it WAS titled “Outer Limits” at first but had to be changed after “The Outer Limits” television show’s producers complained. Maybe the complaint was that it sounded nothing like their show’s theme music?!) Another note for anyone who might not know already: the songwriting co-credit to Robert Jones and Gene Vincent on “A Night With The Jersey Devil” is due to Springsteen’s interpolation of lines from the Gene Vincent classic “Baby Blue” in the final (fade-out) verse.

    This is worth noting, too, thanks to a recent post on BTX:

    The post contains discussion of and a link for an mp3 excerpt from Bruce’s October 18, 1976 show at McDonough Arena, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. This was probably the only night in Springsteen history that Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” (popularized as the theme music for the film THE EXORCIST) got incorporated into the musical bed for the storytelling section of “Growin’ Up.” Since Georgetown University was the setting for both THE EXORCIST book and film (and with Halloween right around the corner,) it was especially fitting for Bruce to come up with a demonic-possession-themed storyline for “Growin’ Up.”

    The sound on the mp3 excerpt is not great by any means, but you still can make out the basic plot, yet another variation on Bruce’s car troubles. In this version, Springsteen’s ’57 Chevy gets possessed, of course. Bruce tries to solve the problem using a crucifix. “The hood ornament started spinnin’ around on that cross! The gas tank flew open and spit gas on my face! The cross was jammed into the radiator, and all of a sudden I said, ‘Who are you? ! You ain’t my ’57 Chevy; who are you?!'” Hearing Bruce’s voicing of his possessed Chevy’s reply has to be done first-hand (or should that be first-ear?) It’s hilarious, and pre-dates Stephen King’s Christine by almost a decade.


    Happy Halloween.

  2. Counting down the hours here in Rochester. This city is buzzin’ with the arrival of the Boss and Band. Actually, if I’m not mistaken, Bruce came through Rochester in the early 70’s and played at the U of R auditorium for the college kids. Small slice of history….
    Happy Halloween Bruce!!! That’ll be me way up in the rafters having a great time.

  3. segmation says:

    I just can’t get Born in the U.S.A out of my head this Halloween!

  4. […] Bruce Springsteen and Halloween Night (and Rochester wishlist) – […]

  5. Great show!!! Monster Mash was the request – and granted. All my favorites and then some. There is NO ONE who can give a show like The Boss and his E Street Band.

  6. Wow sounds awesome! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. pajarigirls says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! Reading your post reminded me of the December ’99 concert in Fargo… Jon Landau and Chuck Plotkin tossed candy canes into the crowd- wearing elf costumes- while the E-Street band performed Santa Claus is Comin to Town. My daughter and I are counting the days to her first Bruce concert and my fifth 🙂

  8. boabbyjane says:

    Saw the boss in Manchester earlier this year. He was amazing live it was a real pleasure to have been at that concert. I have written a blog post about my experience at the concert. It would have been great to have seen him at Halloween-what a great time it would have been!

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