Lawrence Kirsch first saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on 1975’s Born to Run tour. “The guy killed us with three-and-a-half hours of jumping off scaffolding and pianos and going into the audience and going totally bezerko,” Kirsch recalls.
He instantly became a fan. So when his cousin offered him a ticket to see the Boss’ first show on the 1978 Darkness on the Edge of Town tour in Buffalo, he made the drive from his Montreal home to see the concert.
“[Springsteen] basically was screaming so loud and with such passion that he said it was going to kill him and us, too,” says Kirsch, who penned For You: Original Stories and Photographs by Bruce Springsteen’s Legendary Fans. “That was an incredible raucous thing, and I then caught another 10 dates on that tour, including the last two in Cleveland, which, of course, are legendary shows.”
After 30 years, Kirsch has just published The Light in Darkness, a collection of fans’ recollections from the Darkness tour. Accompanied by previously unseen amateur photos (including a few shots by Scene's Anastasia Pantsios), the book of anecdotal essays is more loving tribute to the Boss than critical assessment of his life and music. It includes essays on both of his stops in Cleveland: first at the Agora and then at Richfield Coliseum.
“Cleveland is more like Philadelphia or New York than a Midwest city,” says Kirsch. “The themes in Darkness are related to by most Clevelanders and people in Ohio in general so the fans in Cleveland embraced him before other cities. He probably relates to Cleveland more than other cities. That’s just my personal opinion.”
Originally, Kirsch was researching a book on the tour for a Spanish journalist but when that deal didn’t come through, he turned his research into The Light in Darkness.
“The intention is to try to give the average fan who wasn’t there a taste of what that tour was all about,” he says of the book, which is only available online at thelightindarkness.com. “I get as big a kick out of reading the stories as much as any other fan. One thing I can’t stress enough is the unbelievable generosity of these Springsteen fans, who submitted all these amazing stories and photos. It’s a labor of love. There’s an underlying message of honest and faithfulness and loyalty to the band. I’m preaching to the converted so if you’re a Bruce fan, you’re going to like the book.” —Jeff Niesel