Have You Heard The News?

Have You Heard The News?


The house lights in the old Stanley Theater went dark…The old Stanley is now the new Benedum…or is the old Benedum? It’s still the same old classic theater and one of the best places to see a show in the country. Either way, what happened next was magic.

You could sense the scurrying about the stage as the band came out and took their places. A lone spotlight hit a skinny punk from New Jersey holding a guitar. Like a preacher, he shouted into the microphone,

“Have You Heard The News?”

Then again,

“Have You Heard The News?”

At that point the stage lit up and Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band launched into “Good Rockin Tonight.” It was an old Elvis song that I had never heard before, which made it better. Nothing against Elvis, but this was the way to hear it the first time. I couldn’t stop my body from moving and at that moment I was transformed.

It was the first day of school, senior year. Forty years ago tonight, August 28, 1978. I told the football coach I couldn’t make practice that day because of a dental appointment. He wasn’t overly upset, probably because I wouldn’t be leading us to the championship from the bench anyway.

The Album “Darkness on the Edge of Town” had come out earlier that summer and Bruce and the band were touring behind it. I had been too young to see him on the “Born To Run” tour. He had only done one show in the area since then, at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe. I wanted to go, but didn’t have a driver’s license or a way to get there. Or, parents that would have let me drive an hour and a half to see a concert, even if I would have been sixteen.

So, this was the first shot I had to see Springsteen. I had all of his albums…there were 4 at the time. Outside of album covers and occasional photos in magazines, I had never really seen him. This was a time before MTV and YouTube. If you came from a home with more than one phone, they were all on the same line. When you picked it up, if you didn’t hear a dial tone, you would hear somebody swear at you and tell you to get “The Hell Off The Phone!”

All I had was what I read. They always said, Bruce Springsteen was mesmerizing in concert. It turns out, they weren’t lying. This guy and his band lived up to the hype.

For three hours, with a short break in between, they blew the roof off of the Stanley. I’ve seen a lot of shows since then, including at least one show with the E-Street Band on every tour since. I still have to put that one on the top of the list by far.

I guess it has something to do with it being the first time seeing something when you don’t know what to expect. A lot of it may also have to do with the fact it is still referred to as the legendary “Darkness” tour. If you’ve seen him since then and not on that tour, I did! Yeah, I know, you’re probably younger than me…shut up!

Sometimes, it seems like I was going to that concert only yesterday and had my whole life still in front of me. Forty years went by in a blink.

“Son of a bitch!”

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