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August 12, 2009

Why Bruce Springsteen? Why 1st Mariner Arena? Why now? Here's the backstory.

bruce springsteenIt's a concert that was six years in the making.

That's how long Frank Remesch, the general manager of 1st Mariner Arena, has been fighting to get Bruce Springsteen to play here. He came close a couple times, but Bruuuce always ended up playing Verizon Center or another arena.

Recently, when promoters and booking agents were plotting Springsteen's 31-date tour, there was a vague possibility The Boss might come to 1st Mariner.

But Remesch didn't tell anyone -- not even the 1st Mariner staff. He didn't want to get anybody's hopes up, and he thought if he told someone, that might jinx it.

"It's bad luck," Remesch said. "It's like baseball when you don't walk on the foul line."

Springsteen has played around the region in the past. He performed at Painters Mill in Owings Mills in 1975. And he played at Towson University (back when it was Towson State) in 1977.

But believe it or not, Springsteen has never headlined 1st Mariner Arena. He and the rest of the E Street Band opened for Chicago in June 1973, but according to Remesch and a thorough search of the Baltimore Sun archives, Springsteen has never headlined the arena.

In fact, Springsteen hasn't performed in the city since the Chicago show in 1973 ...

"I've been trying to get him for so long," Remesch said. "He's an icon and he's never played the arena."

As of yesterday, Remesch still hadn't told anybody else at the arena about booking the Springsteen gig. He was planning on holding a big press conference and announcing it to the whole city. Then yesterday, when Remesch was on vacation, Springsteen's camp beat him to the punch.

Though Remesch is a little disappointed he didn't get to break the news, he's still pumped about the show. He puts Springsteen right up there with the Rolling Stones, who, coincidentally, played 1st Mariner in 2006. After 36 years, the Boss is finally coming back to Baltimore.

"That's the one I was going for," Remesch said. "That's the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. Now what do I do? How many big boys are left out there?"

(AP photo)

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 9:29 AM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Local music


He hasn't performed in the city since 1973, but I don't think he ever performed in the city before 1973, either. That was his one and only time.

I'm happy to see bigger name acts performing at First Mariner. It is unfortunate there aren't more. Baltimore needs to do something to attract more artists to the city. Pleasssssse do something! I'm tired of having to travel to DC and Philly for good shows!!!!

You would think that since he has a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack, that he would visit more often.

Ha! I wonder if he pays alimony.

BaltBabs, I would love to see bigger acts come through Baltimore as well, but i think we need a newer, nicer venue to get them. First Mariner is such a dump. I admit I'm not a huge concertgoer, but Verizon and the Wachovia Center are leaps and bounds better than First Mariner from what I can tell from sitting in the seats. I would imagine it's the same for the techinical and behind-the-scenes features too.

Wasn't there talk of building a stadium on the West Side, just beyond MLK? In this economic enviornment, I can't imagine that anyone would take it on, but I could see the upside of that: drawing bigger, better concerts and the potential to host an NCAA tournament basketball game. I went to college in DC in the late 1990s and it was astonishing to see how Verizon (then MCI Center, aw) transformed the Penn Quarter neighborhood over the course of the years. Of course, Verizon always had the Metro, which allowed suburban patrons to get in and out of the area even when it was less safe (or at least less interesting), an advantage that a West Side venue would not have.

pomme de terre,

The city wants a new arena right where 1st Mariner currently stands. Light rail is right there, as you know. A full-time tenant (NBA or NHL) would help.

I've got a long comment in Sam's previous Springsteen post:

Sure, 1st Mariner is a dump, but it's OUR dump!! (I hadn't been inside since about 1970 when I went to see the Stones and couldn't believe it. Only 2 bathrooms for entire upper deck. Felt like I had to take a shower as soon as I got home). Seriously, we are better off with a smaller arena. A larger arena would still have to compete with Verizon and we would lose all the acts that currently book "The Tombs" because they can't sellout Verizon. I've been to 2-3 shows in the last couple of years and there are almost no bad seats because of the size. At Verizon, if you're toward the back, it may as well be a stadium show because the screen is the only view you have.

Don't get me wrong, I love Baltimore but it is severely lacking of a good mid-sized concert venue. You have Rams Head and Meyerhoff for smaller crowds and M & T for the mega shows, but nothing in between. I haven't been to 1st Mariner in 10 years because I did have to take a shower the last time I was there due one of the two upper level bathrooms leaking out onto the seats. To call it a dump is being generous.

With all the money Ed Hale has, it shouldn't be a problem.

When I went to see the Stones in 2006 I listened to great music and smelled the scent of elephants & popcorn -- time for a new arena Baltimore!

An NHL team would be AWESOMEEEE. I haven't been into hockey historically, but I am totally ready to hop on the bandwagon this year, and a nice arena and team in B-more would be fab. People still come from DC to Camden Yards because it is so gorgeous. Surely we could get a suburban following for an NHL or NBA team if the venue was great.

Bruce also played in Baltimore one other time at the Broadway Theatre in Fells Pt. I think it was 1974. I still have a program from a Grin concert I went to there (Grin was Nils Lofgren's band) and the program has a listing of an upcoming concert by Bruce. I didn't see him then, but I did go to the concert at Towson State. That one is one of my all time favorite concerts!

Bruce and the E st band played Painters Mill Music Fair in the mid - early 70's

Springsteen is a big fan of The Low Anthem. From The Independent:

"While the lovely harmonies of Prystowsky and Adams colour most of the songs, it's as if there are several lead vocalists. "That's true," muses Miller, who punctuates answering questions with jotting down thoughts in a leather-bound journal. "Bruce Springsteen heard the title track [with Miller's falsetto] and apparently loved it very much and asked if he could meet us after one of his shows. When we went to meet him he scanned across the three of us trying to work out who was singing that song." He breaks into a self-satisfied grin. "I was very flattered."


INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET (7.37)/ SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT (5.44)/ I WANT YOU (6.09)/ SHES THE ONE (6.24)/ JUNGLELAND (slight cut)(9.10)/ ROSALITA (cut in tape turn)(10.18)/ 4TH JULY ASBURY PARK (SANDY) (6.45)

ONE show, double bill, with Springsteen & The E Street Band headlining and BUZZY LINHART opening. Partial setlist above is from a circulating audio tape and represents about half the night's performance.

Looks like Live Nation has an unmentioned agreement with certain ticket brokers, probably stub hub, to allow them to rape tickets from certain locations while live nation appears to do the right thing at other venues. Seems Baltimore is getting the hit on this one. Not that it matters but I'll be skipping this and any other Live Nation concert until they use their resources for the people and not the scumbag brokers. I hope other people join in and boycott all ticket brokers and Live Nation with me.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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