Springsteen and the band returned to the stage around midnight and opened with Chuck Berry’s classic song “Little Queenie.” When listening to the recording, one can hear a very loose and uneasy rock and roll band that had definitely been shaken up. However, the band was in a free spirited mood laughing and playing like they had just been paroled. Springsteen was screaming “Are you loose?” The band was not sloppy, but there was a definite madhouse party edge to the rhythm section of the band. One can only imagine what goes on behind the scenes with a rock and roll band that has three hours to kill while a police force is investigating a bomb threat.
After the raucous opening of Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie,” Springsteen probably sensed it was time to slow things down a bit, let the band catch their breath, and focus on the performance at hand. One of the great legendary Springsteen stories served as the introduction to the “E Street Shuffle,” song performance. Bruce spoke about how all the bands from Long Island, New York were coming down to the shore and taking all the work away from the club bands of New Jersey. It was one of those classic stories that presented Clarence Clemons as the savior of the E street band and their secret weapon.
One of the greatest highlights of nineteen seventies Springsteen shows were the storytelling sections that simply mesmerized his audiences. The story Springsteen told that night fueled an all time performance of the “E Street Shuffle.” The band then segued into “Spirit in the Night,” from the first Bruce Springsteen album entitled Greetings From Asbury Park.
The Bruce Springsteen Clarence Clemons relationship on stage has always been the dynamic that has been praised as the heart and soul of the Springsteen concert experience. However, when listening to early Springsteen shows like the one in Milwaukee, one can hear that the true relationship that powered the energy of the E Street Band was the bond between Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt.
The Milwaukee show recording presented Steven Van Zandt’s backing vocals loud and clear in the mix. It’s very evident from the recording, the level of feverous energy that Steven Van Zandt brought to the show. Steven Van Zandt was on fire during the Milwaukee show and one can hear how Steven Van Zandt’s vocal phrasings and guitar riffs inspired Springsteen to perform on a level few rock stars ever reach in their careers. The interaction between Steven Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen is perhaps the most important reason for fans of Bruce Springsteen to seek out the Milwaukee show. It is simply a fascinating listen to the heart of a band that would develop into one of the greatest musical acts of all time
The rest of the Milwaukee show featured a mix of cover songs and soon to be Bruce Springsteen classics. The band played on fire the entire night to a crowd that would be sharing memories of a night when they got blown away by a band that had been actually threatened, to be blown away.
Bruce Springsteen Milwaukee Bomb Show Setlist
- Little Queenie
- E Street Shuffle
- Sha La La
- Kitty’s Back
- Detroit Mitch Ryder Medley
- Quarter To Three