Los Angeles, CA, The Roxy (USA) 17-Oct-1975 (early show)
1/1 Thunder road
1/2 10th avenue freeze-out
1/3 Spirit in the night
1/4 Pretty Flamingo
2/1 She’s the one
2/2 Born to run
2/3 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)
3/1 Kitty’s back
4/1 Rosalita (Come out tonight)
4/2 Goin’ back
4/3 Detroit Medley
“Springsteen’s first step towards superstardom can be precisely dated to the period 13th August – 27th October 1975. Between 13th and 17th August Springsteen played a five-night, ten-show stand at the Bottom Line. (The early show on the 15th being the source of the first ever Springsteen bootleg.) These shows heralded the release on 25 August of Born To Run, which garnered levels of critical acclaim and commercial success far beyond those achieved by his first two albums. The four-night, six-show stand at the Roxy (16-19 October) served to highlight Springsteen’s new-found prominence, culminating on 27 October with both Time and Newsweek hitting the news-stands with his image on the front cover.
The single show on the first night was used by Columbia to promote Springsteen’s career by reserving a significant number of seats for music journalists and celebrities, including Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty. Bob Harris, presenter of BBC TV’s Old Grey Whistle Test, noted the presence of David Bowie and George Harrison sitting with folded arms and talking through the first song, seemingly determined to be unimpressed. By the third song they were “hooting and hollering along” and by the time the band got to Pretty Flamingo the whole crowd had been won over. “Bruce left that gig a superstar,” concluded Harris. Springsteen had a different take on the show. He was apparently unaware of Columbia’s arrangement and only gradually became aware of the unusual nature of the proceedings by noticing a lack of the usual level of audience enthusiasm.
This scenario provided the title for the first bootleg of the next night’s early show, which was broadcast on KWEST-FM. After a rousing version of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, a clearly satisfied Springsteen prefaces Spirit In The Night by gleefully exclaiming, “Yeah…man…Ain’t nobody here from Billboard tonight.” Following Ain’t Nobody Here From Billboard Tonight (HAR) came further vinyl issues The Roxy (Impossible Records), Harley in Heat (no label) and Flat Top And Pin Drop (SODD).
Clinton Heylin, in his bootleg history The Great White Wonders: A History Of Rock Bootlegs, wrote of this performance that the “Roxy show certainly had a lot more chops to it than the relatively tame ‘wall of sound’ beneath which Springsteen buried Born To Run.” I would argue that the title track in particular benefits from the production, which is why live recordings of it have been disappointing. Unable to reproduce the sound of the album version, live renditions have seemed muddy and indistinct. Here, the quality of the stereo sound overcomes this problem somewhat, separating the instruments and allowing, for example, the twangy guitar to be easily discernible. The audience can be heard quite loudly at times but in a relatively small venue this is never intrusive and adds to the atmosphere of the show.”