Notes: Setlist from report in Asbury Park Evening Press of 20/4/1970 by Joan Pikula.
STEEL MILL the sole act on he bill. Several other songs were played but the titles were not articulated in Pikula's review. Steve Van Zandt had seemingly made his concert debut with Steel Mill in Richmond in March. In a more significant (but less widely read) article by Joan Pikula that appeared in the Asbury Park Press on 15/4/70 she strongly implies that this 18/4/70 concert was the group's first New Jersey-based gig with Steve Van Zandt in the line-up.
THERE IS NO CIRCULATING AUDIO FROM THIS SHOW
Notes: ONE show, with STEEL MILL the sole act on the bill. This was a replacement concert for a cancellation of the musical “Hair”. The above-mentioned setlist is taken from a circulating soundboard of very good to excellent quality, although end-user quality tends to vary widely due to the fact the material has been in circulation for over 20 years and some circulating copies are many generations downstream. This 6-song, 78-minute segment of audio, long referred to in collector circles as “the West End gig”, would have to rank as the most misidentified, misdated and cannibalized of all Springsteen recordings. To make matters even messier though, the show’s epic 30-minute finale, “Garden State Parkway Blues”, is sometimes edited into separate segments and assigned fictitious titles such as “Mountain Child”, “I Got A Woman” or “Sunlight Soldiers”. Many LP and CD bootlegs (such as “TORN AND FRAYED”, “THE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN STORY VOL 3” and “DEEP DOWN IN THE VAULTS”) contain one, two or several of these tracks – assigned to a wide variety of incorrect dates/venues. However “SUNLIGHT SOLDIERS AT THE WEST END” (Rattlesnake) includes the complete audio and merely messes up the correct date/venue.
This soundboard tape is very deceptive in that drummer Vinnie Lopez’s voice microphone is abnormally dominant in the mix, so much so that it sounds like a co-lead singer (i.e., Robbin Thompson) is interacting with Springsteen throughout the show. However under an extremely close comparison it can be determined that the “co-lead” vocalist is actually drummer and background vocalist Lopez, with his microphone turned way up in the audio mix. Robbin Thompson’s voice is definitely not present.
There are three critical clues during the performance that, when combined, powerfully point to the true location and date of this show. Firstly, Bruce’s dedication to the “West End Fire Department” - this signifies a Long Branch or close proximity location. Secondly, the distinct sound of wooden side bleachers being stomped during the final song – this signifies it’s indoors and it’s a gymnasium (not a theatre or concert hall). Thirdly, Bruce recites the opening line of James Taylor’s song “Sweet Baby James” during “Garden State Parkway Blues” – that places the show no sooner than late March, 1970. Consequently this audio can, to a high degree of probability, be identified as coming from this April 24, 1970 show.