Friday is Boss’ Day: The Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, Houston, 1996
Back in the old days when you had to stand in line to get concert tickets, it was critical that the person behind the counter knew what he or she was doing. If they punched in the wrong numbers it could mean the difference between the first row and the nosebleeds. This was especially important when I stood in line for tickets to see Bruce Springsteen on The Ghost of Tom Joad Tour.
He was coming to Jones Hall, a great old venue, but it only had 2,500 seats and I knew the tickets would go fast. So I’m fifth in line (thank God they put the tickets on sale on a Wednesday at 10am), praying that I had one of the good ones behind the counter. About two minutes before 10, he pulled the tickets and laid them on the counter. I don’t know how he did it, but it was pure genius. Needless to say, I got great seats.
At the time, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Tom Joad record. I liked it, but it was far from my favorite. Then I saw the show. Springsteen was about as good as it gets on this evening. His acoustic versions of “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” and “Adam Raised A Cain,” were stellar and the Tom Joad material really came alive in concert. “Balboa Park,” “Youngstown,” and “Across the Border” and a haunting version of “Brothers Under the Bridge” were as good as anything he has ever done live.
The material made the night pretty intense, but there was one moment of comic relief. It came inside the tune “Sell It and they Will Come” where he told TV exercise guru/douchebag Tony Little to go “kill yourself.” Classic. This was clearly one of the best Springsteen shows I had ever seen. Very intimate, very musical, and despite most of the material, very uplifting.
I remember telling my wife as we walked out of the venue that sometimes Springsteen comes out and greets the fans after the show. She said “we should stay.” I said “no he won’t come out, plus I have to get up and go to work in the morning.” I think you know the rest of the story.
Here is the setlist:
The Ghost of Tom Joad/Adam Raised a Cain/Straight Time/Highway 29/Darkness on the Edge of Town/Murder Inc./Nebraska/Sell It and they Will Come/Brothers Under the Bridge/Born in the USA/Dry Lightning/Spare Parts/Youngstown/Sinaloa Cowboys/The Line/Balboa Park/Across the Border/Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?/This Hard Land/Streets of Philadelphia/Galveston Bay/The Promised Land/My Best was Never Good Enough