A Young Bruce Springsteen plays Max’s Kansas City, August 10, 1972
More on this early performance from Marc Dolan’s Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock ‘n’ Roll:
In early August of 1972, Bruce Springsteen finally went back in front of a live audience. For six nights that summer, he did two half-hour sets a night at the bottom of a three-artist bill at Max’s Kansas City, at that point still one of Manhattan’s hottest clubs for live music. Give his promising but still currently stalled career, the young singer probably wouldn’t have gotten a gig that impressive if the featured act on the bill (folksinger Dave van Ronk) hasn’t been an old friend of his new mentor John Hammond. Springsteen became casually friendly with Hammond that summer, frequently dropping into his Columbia office without necessarily calling first, much as he had shown up so often during the spring at Pocketful of Tunes.
Springsteen performed solo for these twelve acts. The first night at Max’s, The MC introduced Springsteen as “a very fine young songwriter with special talents.” The singer then took the stage nervously, adjusting the microphone, and gave exactly the sort of ill-at-ease, on-the-money introduction to his first number that was so typical of singer-songwriters during the latter-day coffeehouse era. This is a song about being new in town, he says about “Henry Boy,” a lively piece about a young man trying and mostly failing to make it as a performer in New York City.
Awkward as the young singer’s spoken words are, though, everything changes the second he starts to play. Strumming a guitar, he clearly knows what he’s doing. His skills are even more in evidence when he plays his set-closer, the well-honed “Growin’ Up,” which those awkward words were meant to introduce.”
Thanks to Open Culture for bringing out attention to this video.