This benefit show for a modest 300-capacity Philadelphia venue, originally broadcast by local radio, finds Springsteen on the cusp of greatness. The release of Born To Run was still six months away, but the epic surge of the E Street Band on the live stage is clearly making itself known.
There remains a bit of tweaking to be done on a few songs (Thunder Road is billed as Wings For Wheels, its female protagonist called Angelina as opposed to the more familiar Mary), though the sheer energy of She’s The One and Jungleland astonishes in its power and momentum. Springsteen’s charismatic hold over stadium crowds is a given these days, so it’s particularly revealing to hear him work a more intimate gathering: part preacher, part poet.
As always with The Boss, there’s room for a well-chosen cover or two, and an initially reserved reading of Bob Dylan’s I Want You benefits from Roy Bittan’s delicate piano lines and Suki Lahav’s soothing violin, building to a crescendo of cinematic proportions. Springsteen rarely disappoints in concert but, 36 years on, this gig stands as one of his most thrilling performances.