On August 13, 1975, twelve days before the release of Born To Run, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band began a five night, ten show stand at The Bottom Line. This was a new E Street Band, with keyboardist Roy Bittan and drummer Max Weinberg replacing David Sancious and Ernest "Boom" Carter, respectively. Steven Van Zandt, who'd played in an earlier band with Springsteen, joined as second guitarist.
There are bootlegs of these shows all over the internet. Listening, you have to remind yourself how little known some of these legendary songs were at the time . In "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out", during the second show, when Springsteen sings "And the Big Man joined the band", there is absolutely no reaction from the crowd. A week later and from then on, it would become one of the great applause lines of every show.
Robert De Niro, in New York shooting Taxi Driver, caught one of the Bottom Line shows. He watched as the crowd yelled "Brruuuuuuce!" and Springsteen responded with "You talkin' to me?".
De Niro would make that line his own in an improvised scene shot within the next couple of days.
The shows had their desired effect. Ken Tucker wrote in the Soho Weekly News "I have just come from the best rock and roll performance I've ever seen in my long, decadent life". The Village Voice's Paul Nelson responded in the affirmative to his cover story " Is Springsteen Worth The Hype?": "On my feet, clapping, never wanting it to end, I ask myself when I've ever been so moved by a concert."
"It was our coming-out party," Springsteen says. "And some sort of transformation occurred over those five nights. We walked out of that place in a different place."