Bruce Springteen 1980-1981 World Tour "The River" T
Bruce Springteen 1980-1981 World Tour "The River" T
Original 1980-1981 Bruce Springsteen world tour shirt. Pristine condition with one small fleck of paint near hem (see picture). Back lists original E Street band.
Tagged a M (Hanes T Shirt). Pit to pit is 16" flat, Collar to Hem is 25" Flat.
The first leg of the tour took place in arenas in the United States, comprising 46 shows beginning on October 3, 1980 in Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Michigan and lasting through the very end of the year. After a three-week holiday break, a second leg continued with 26 shows through early March in Canada and the U.S.
The third leg of the tour, during April through June 1981 (and pushed back three weeks from the original schedule, due to Springsteen's exhaustion from the first two legs), represented Springsteen's first real foray into Western Europe, and his first appearances at all there since his very short venture there following the release of Born to Run in 1975. In total 34 shows were played, including six nights at London's Wembley Arena. Ten countries were visited: West Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom.
The final leg was billed as a "homecoming tour", visiting U.S. cities that had been special in Springsteen's career for multiple night stands, beginning with six nights that opened his native New Jersey's Meadowlands Arena. After 34 shows in just 10 cities, this leg concluded on September 13 and 14 at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum.
For the only time in his career, Springsteen opened some concerts with his signature song, "Born to Run". At the very first Ann Arbor show, he famously was struck dumb and forgot the words to it; the audience's singing them helped him regain his bearings. In that show's encore, local hero Bob Seger appeared to duet with Springsteen on "Thunder Road".
Springsteen's performances on this tour were similar in nature to tours before, but extended in length. Thirty-song sets were often seen and shows ran up to four hours; it was during this tour that Springsteen's reputation for marathon performances really took hold.
The emotional tempor of the concerts was assessed differently depending upon the goer, with some having a party and others reporting that after a string of depressing songs they felt like slitting their wrists. Certainly The River had material to illustrate both viewpoints — on it Springsteen had acknowledged that "life had paradoxes, a lot of them, and you've got to live with them" — and the tour followed in kind. A key difference now was that where before Springsteen had relied upon old 1960s R&B and pop numbers for his concerts' uptempo, lighter moments, he now had written them himself: "Out in the Street" and "I'm a Rocker" and "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)" and other River numbers would serve this role in this tour and in tours for years to come.
A couple of Springsteen concert traditions began during the tour. Near the end of the frat-rocker "Sherry Darling", Springsteen pulled a young female out of the front rows and danced with her on stage; this practice would become famous when he did it in the subsequent Born in the U.S.A. Tour during "Dancing in the Dark". And when playing his new (and first) Top 10 hit "Hungry Heart", Springsteen let the audience sing the first verse and chorus, a ritual that would be solidified on subsequent tours as well.
Two shows were noted at the time for their confluence with historical events. A November 5, 1980 show at Arizona State University followed the day after Ronald Reagan's electoral college landslide in the United States Presidential election. In a rare move for the time, Springsteen pronounced, "I don't know what you guys think about what happened last night, but I think it's pretty frightening", after which he and the band launched into a particularly fiery rendition of "Badlands". The performance of the song, but not the preceding remark, was included in the Live/1975-85 box set, and the performance was later included in full on a video release of the show in 2015. About a month later, on December 9, Springsteen went ahead with a scheduled concert at The Spectrum in Philadelphia the day after John Lennon was murdered, despite initial objections from sideman Steven Van Zandt. "It's a hard world that asks you to live with a lot of things that are unlivable", Springsteen announced before starting the show, "And it's hard to come out here and play tonight, but there's nothing else to do." He opened with an especially frenzied "Born to Run" and closed with a rendition of The Beatles' version of "Twist and Shout".
The most famous of the shows on the tour is probably the New Year's Eve 1980 one at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, New York. With a set list 38 songs strong, it is one of the longest Springsteen shows of all time.
Springsteen in concert on The River Tour. Drammenshallen, Drammen, Norway. 5 May 1981.
The first European show in Hamburg, Germany started out stiffly, but in time language and cultural barriers were broken and the European leg of the tour was considered a great success in building a Springsteen following there. It concluded with two epic shows at Birmingham, England's NEC Arena, one of which featured The Who's Pete Townshend joining the encores.
Moreover, his time in these foreign countries exposed Springsteen to the world outside America, including talking to people who considered America a beacon of self-interest and greed, and gave him alternative views of societies and issues. He began to read books on American history, deepening his heretofore admittedly shallow political consciousness.
By the time the final leg of the tour took place back in the U.S., he was doing a benefit show for Vietnam Veterans of America in Los Angeles (which raised $100,000) and often singing a heartfelt acoustic version of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land", presaging his much greater political involvement later in the 1980s. His on-stage stories and raps became longer and emotional, and he began asking for quiet before some of his more serious songs. He added the dour death-of-Elvis "Bye Bye Johnny" (later retitled "Johnny Bye Bye") and obscure Jimmy Cliff descent "Trapped" to his repertoire.
The July 1981 Meadowlands shows, while lauded for opening the arena (New Jersey's first), were marred by their proximity to the American Fourth of July and the firecrackers that were set off in the crowd during every show of the stand. Springsteen hated them (and had once been hit in the face with one), and angrily denounced the fans doing it.