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Bruce Springsteen Releases 1981 New Jersey Concert for COVID-19 Relief

The concert was the culmination of a six-night stand that served as an opening party for the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey

UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1981: Bruce Springsteen in concert circa 1981. (Photo by Richard Aaron/IMAGES/Getty Images)

Bruce Springsteen he released a July 9th, 1981 concert he played at New Jersey's Brendan Byrne Arena to benefit the COVID-19 relief effort.

Richard Aaron/Getty Images

The newest chapter in Bruce Springsteen’s monthly live concert download series is a show he played at New Jersey’s Brendan Byrne Arena on July 9th, 1981. The show can be downloaded on MP3 for $9.95 ($12.95 for lossless) and all net proceeds will be given to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

The concert took place at the beginning of the third and final U.S. leg of The River tour when Springsteen and the E Street Band played six consecutive nights at the newly-opened Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (In later years, it would be known as the Continental Airlines Arena and the Izod Center.) Every night was professionally recorded and select songs from the stand appeared five years later on the Live 1975–85 box set, but only “Jersey Girl” from the July 9th show made the cut. The rest of the recording has never been heard anywhere, though audience tapes from the show have circulated.

The concert is noteworthy for a guest appearance by singer Gary U.S. Bonds on “Jolé Blon” and “This Little Girl.” It also boasts an epic “The Detroit Medley” containing snippets of “I Hear a Train,” “Sock It To Me, Baby!” and “Sweet Soul Music,” while Clarence Clemons sings a bit of “Stagger Lee” prior to “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight.)” There’s also a performance of the rarity “Johnny Bye-Bye,” which was released three years later as the b-side to “I’m on Fire.” You can hear a preview of that right here.

Prior to “This Land Is Your Land,” an unruly fan set off a firecracker. This was a recurring issue at arena concerts during this time and the incident understandably enraged Springsteen. “If anybody was around that guy, point him out, and throw his fucking ass out of here,” he said. “If you don’t have the respect for yourself, you ought to at least respect the people that are sitting around you.”

This was Springsteen’s final major New Jersey concert until the Born In The USA tour three years later and he ended the night by thanking everyone in the audience — at least the ones that didn’t throw firecrackers. “We’ve played a lot this year and I just wanna thank you guys for making this really seem like home for us,” he said. “You’ve been the best and I mean it.”

In This Article: Bruce Springsteen


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