Sunday, 27 October 2013

#BruceBooks: The Light In Darkness

There are two types of Bruce Springsteen fans who have been rocked by a live E Street Band show. Those who caught the band on the Darkness 78/79 tour, and those who wish they could have.

So legendary are those 115 concerts from May 1978 to January 1979, and so pivotal was the period in Springsteen's music career that books, album re-releases, outtakes and documentaries have all delved into the Darkness-era in recent years.
Photographer and Springsteen-book author Lawrence Kirsh's limited edition book The Light In Darkness is one that puts the fans and the incredible impact of Springsteen's fourth album centre stage.

Recalling details of how they ended up in the audience for one - or several - shows, every stop of the tour is covered through the personal memories of a fan.
With more than 100 stories, common themes run throughout - how they discovered Springsteen, how many didn't appreciate Darkness upon first listen only to later find it an influential favourite, and how seeing the band live changed their life.
These tales are joined by more than 200 fantastic photographs from the shows that provide a glimpse into everything about  the experience of the tour - from the style and intensity to the expressions of everyone in the band. 
Something that could be taken for granted today with the abundance of Springsteen fans' blogs, such as this one, that seek to do the same thing through recaps of a show and photos from a phone snapped from the pit.

In a world dominated by comprehensive online resources easily detailing Springsteen's concerts and shows in minute, visual detail, one of the most impressive things about this book is how it does the same with great images and props from the era.

So when fans recall hearing the '78 version of Prove It All Night or how they felt when Springsteen broke the established conventions and left the stage to join them during Spirit In The Night, anyone who has been to an E Street Show can relate and picture themselves right there at the show more than three decades earlier.

Admittingly while after 50 pages in some of the stories can become tiresome as they repeat the similar tales of discovering Springsteen and seeing their first show. But the impact of the album and the tour itself is never lost. And as the structure uses short stories to follow every concert venue, the book is perfect for casual readers wanting to dip into the legendary shows from time to time, rather than take in the entire tour at once.

Although focussing on the fans, the chronological visit to the tour also creates a picture of how Springsteen and the band developed surrounding the release of Darkness and the troubles they overcame. 

What has been frequently touched on in other biographies about Springsteen's legal battle and the direction he took afterwards are given a new and unique perspective through the eyes of dozens of concert goers instead of a single writer.

It is the details surrounding what has become accepted as a crucial time in E Street history that stands The Light In Darkness out amongst the increasingly heavy shelves of Springsteen books currently out there.
Not only a worthy companion to documentary The Promise: The Making of Darkness On The Edge Of Town, but also an excellent answer to those who constantly question fans lining up for hours outside venues for the best pit position for every concert they can get to.
Part of what makes this book such a fun addition to the expanding collections is how fans share their exclusive part in some of the final shows that the band would play in smaller venues. Offering experiences that many concert-goers today dream of.
As Kirsh said “The book will give readers at least a small perspective of what we experienced in 1978.”

“The connection and bond made between performer and audience during this tour set the stage for all future albums and tours to come.”

Like the album that inspired the stories within, this book is one fans will no doubt return to again and again.

The Light In Darkness is a limited edition book only available from 

But be quick, when I contacted author Lawrence Kirsch for photos to use in this review he informed me there were only 120 copies left. Those 120 remaining books also come with half-price shipping and the author's signature upon request.

All photos from the book:The Light In Darkness ©