Bruce Springsteen Hammersmith Odeon London 24th November 1975

Bruce Springsteen Hammersmith Odeon London 24th November 1975
BruceborntorunI’d read the famous report which famously claimed, “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen,” and was originally written by Landau’s in a 1974 edition of the USA magazine “The Real Paper”, and I’d also heard the single “Born to Run” booming out of my radio. I read that Springsteen was finally coming to the UK, and was playing a show in London at Hammersmith Odeon on Tuesday 18th November 1975. Should I go? I wouldn’t usually travel to London to see a guy whose songs I didn’t know. But there seemed to be something special about this guy. The reports I’d read suggested that he was the “new Dylan” with shades of Elvis thrown in for good measure. I talked to my mates. No-one really knew who Springsteen was or fancied going to see him. By then the concert was sold out anyway, but a second concert had been added on the following Monday 24th November 1975. I passed on the first gig, but still kept the idea of going to see him at the second concert alive in my mind. I think I may have read a review of the first show, which was ok. I can’t be sure. Anyway something convinced me that I had to see this guy. That is was going to be something special. So on the Monday morning I decided I would make the 500+ mile round trip to London to try and get into the concert. I didn’t have a ticket, and I knew demand would be high, but hey it wouldn’t do any harm to try. I go the bus to town, bought a day return to London, caught a train to Newcastle, and got on the next train to London. brucetix1As I walked along the street from the tube I could see Hammersmith Odeon. Above the doors the sign proclaimed: “Finally London is ready for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band”. The first thing I noticed was that the posters said that the show didn’t start until 9pm. The time was around 6pm. I’d expected the concert to start at 7.30pm and the late start time worried me. If I did get in, would I make the last train home (which was shortly after midnight). Anyway, I put such concerts to the back of my mind and set about the task of scoring a ticket. I started to talk to the touts outside the venue. “Oh going to be tricky. Yeh, I can get you a ticket but it’ll cost you.” was the answer I got. As the time passed and it got closer to the doors opening around 8pm, I was offered a few tickets. The prices ranged from £20 upwards for a seat, which was a hell of a lot of money at the time, and more that I had with me. Finally one of the tours came up to me. “Are you still looking for a ticket? I have a cheap one here. Its a £1 standing ticket, and you can have it for £10.” That was almost all the money I had, and would leave me just enough for my tube fare back to Kings Cross. So I bought it and entered the venue. There was an air of anticipation in the air. Simon Frith called it “an odd buzz because everyone was expecting something but no one knew what” in Creem (“Casing The Promised Land: Bruce Springsteen at Hammersmith Odeon, Frith, 1975). brucetix2Springsteen and the E Street Band came on stage at 9pm. My ticket allowed me to stand at the back of the stalls, the view wasn’t too bad actually. They started with “Thunder Road”. Bruce had a wooly hat on his head, a casual shirt and a pair of jeans. The first thing that struck me was how tight the band was. The sax player, Clarence Clemons came to the front a lot, recreating the image from the front cover of “Born to Run”. I didn’t know any of the songs, other than “Born to Run” which came quite early in the set, but I’d read enough reviews to recognise some of them, simply by their title. He played some classic covers, including Manfred Mann’s “Pretty Flamingo”. The main set was quite long, fast paced, and very intense throughout. It’s generally recognised that this night was a much better (and longer) performance than the first concert in London the week before, which got quite mixed reviews from the press. Bruce and the band returned for several encores, which just seemed to go and on for ever. During the encores Springsteen took us through his influences, playing classic rock’n’roll by Elvis and Chuck Berry, and the woderful Jackie De Shannon song “When You Walk in the Room”. Bruce and the band were really into the groove by now, and it was hot, tight, stunning. I started to worry about missing the train home. I left at 11.30pm, just as he was finishing. I ran down the road to the tube, jumped on one. I made my train just in time, and it got me back home around 8am, tired, worn out, but with a feeling that I had witnessed something pretty special.
As soon as I had a little money again, I went out and bought “Born to Run” and played it again and again. I was a convert.
Setlist: Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Spirit in the Night, Lost in the Flood, She’s the One, Born to Run; Growin’ Up; It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City; Pretty Flamingo (Manfred Mann cover); Backstreets; Sha La La; Jungleland; Rosalita.
Encore: 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy); Wear My Ring Around Your Neck; For You; When You Walk in the Room; Quarter to Three; Twist and Shout; Carol; Little Queenie

9 responses to this post.

  1. Nice write-up. I caught him much, much later, at a surprise gig at LA’s House of Blues, and watching Mr. S. from 20 feet away was truly awe-inspiring.


  2. Posted by NickV on July 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    The song “Baby, It’s You” wasn’t played…Bruce has never done it at all, actually. You could be confusing it with the other MM cover he did “Sha La La” or possibly (but hopefully not) “She’s the One”.


    • Posted by vintagerock on July 26, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Many thanks Nick I got the setlist from a published source, as my memories of the gig are patchy. I’m sure you are right. I will do a little digging, and will update the setlist. Cheers and thanks again Peter


  3. Posted by George on November 28, 2018 at 8:53 pm

    I was at this gig too. Having been to hundreds of their gigs since, this one turned out to be the best ever. It was epic. It was fun. It was legendary. The band had to carry him off stage to end the show. I blagged one of the cinema posters which were being pulled in the foyer as I was leaving. It filled the ceiling in my bedroom alongside Blue Oyster Cult. Silly me gave it away along with a dozen others when I moved to Hong Kong in ’94. It’s on the wall in a Hard Rock Cafe now!
    The second-best live gig ever was Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Rainbow in ’77 with the appearance of Ronnie Spector the icing on the cake.
    Now, if only I’d heard of the Stone Pony back then …


  4. No way, you were at the legendary Hammersmith show! That’s amazing mate. The best gig I’ve ever been too was Springsteen and the E street at Manchester arena May 1 1999, astonishing, Ive seen him everyone he’s toured with the band since but that first time was something else, it was just pure Rock n roll joy, plus an absolutely devastating electric Youngstown that brought the house down


    • Posted by vintagerock on June 28, 2020 at 5:18 pm

      Yes Trevor I did go to the concert at Hammersmith. It was a tremendous concert and Bruce was unlike anybody I had ever seen before. I was so excited and looking back now I am so pleased I went. A night I will never forget cheers Peter


  5. And now that show is officially released, at last


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