Not a bad list.
The first truly great Springsteen show I saw -- and by that I mean great in comparison to other Springsteen shows, not in comparison to mere mortals -- was August 11, 2003 in Philadelphia. There’s a lot I’ll always remember about that show: the ultra-rare From Small Things and Pretty Flamingo, Bruce’s off-the-charts playfulness during a full-moon-augmented Ramrod, my first Incident on 57th Street… Another: thinking, five or six times during the show (or was it 8 or 9?) Holy crap, Roy is fantastic tonight. I mean, he's fantastic every night, but that night ... wow. Most people, I think, remember Bruce & Steve hamming it up during Ramrod. I remember Roy stealing the show.
All of which is to explain why I couldn’t resist listing a few of my favorite Roy Bittan performances:
Prove It All Night, Passaic, NJ, 9.19.78
It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City, Philadelphia, 8.11.03:
Incident on 57th Street deserves a spot in any best-of-Roy-Bittan list, if only because the first few notes from Roy announcing the song are just about the best thing you can possibly hear at a concert. Here it is from Madison Square Garden, 6.22.00:
Stand On It:
Here’s Backstreets, from the penultimate show of last year’s tour, in Baltimore. You can, without any trouble, find better video of Backstreets -- but this is the best performance of the song I’ve ever seen in person (4th row, dead center, no less), so it’s the one I’m going with:
(Also, a special note to concert attendees: the quiet part beginning about 5 and a half minutes in isn’t the time to yell and scream and shout things. It’s the time to shut the hell up and give him space to do something unusual. Bruce Springsteen concerts don’t lack opportunities for audience participation. Pick your spots, ‘k?)
Some people don’t like Drive All Night. Those people are to be regarded with deep suspicion:And, of course, there's always Racing in the Street. Do yourself a favor: Buy the new Hyde Park DVD and you'll see why.
(Total Eclipse of the Heart didn't quite make the cut.)