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Springsteen: Liberty Hall - Nicki Germaine (HARDBACK BOOK)


Product Description




Come along and meet Nicki and team Badlands at this free event

to guarantee yourself a book to have personally signed by Nicki please uase the "Collect In Store" option at check-out


Springsteen: Liberty Hall is a treasure trove of previously unpublished photographs by Nicki Germaine taken over four nights at Liberty Hall in Houston Texas, in March 1974.

First edition hardcover book, 10.1 x 13.1 inches
168 pages, 95 black & white and colour photographs, most previously unpublished
Foreword by Bruce Springsteen
4,000 word essay by Bob Santelli
Additional essay by Garry Tallent

Book review by Dan French

When Bruce Springsteen wrote ‘meet me tonight down at Liberty Hall’ in the lyrics of ‘This Hard Land’, with its geographical reference to the Rio Grande, he had to be thinking of Liberty Hall in Houston, the famous site of the (then as yet still unnamed) E Street Band’s first live performances in Texas in March 1974, early intimate gigs that would seal their relationship with the Lone Star State.

This was a formative time in the young band’s career, still struggling to succeed with record sales in the days before their ground-breaking ‘Born To Run’ album, but already accomplished as a live act, having paid their dues with regular touring and building a reputation as a must-see name.

Nicki just happened to be the right person in the right place at the right time, her photos capturing the band’s ‘wide-eyed glory’, its ‘innocence and nonchalance’ in 1974 before fame struck the following year. Bruce Springsteen himself lays out their wary expectations at the time in his foreword, recalling their amazement that their ‘East Coast rumble’ caused the Southern locals to go ‘insane from the first note’. 

Robert Santelli adds further context to the story in a detailed essay, noting that the band had already played around 200 shows in 1973, driven relentlessly by manager Mike Appel, and were constantly dealing with exhaustion, hoping their gruelling efforts would pay off. Unconventionally, they chose to take a two-day train ride south to Houston, following their first nerve-wracking turbulent plane experience.  Crucially, a demo of the unreleased ‘The Fever’ got heavy rotation on Houston radio and increased audience expectations in advance. 

A local Columbia promoter was instrumental in bringing Nicki Germaine to the scene, a local photographer already familiar with the first venue. She was clearly impressed with the band’s professionalism and Bruce’s talent for stage dynamics, storytelling, and working the crowd. The engagement was almost doubled with extra sold out shows added after the initial response, and the buzz spread to the following Texan cities, Austin and Dallas. Tickets were as cheap as $1.00 in Austin, but even higher prices sold ‘briskly’.  

Garry Tallent adds his own memories of that ‘pivotal’ period, thanking his now life partner Nicki for showing ‘our fatigue, our hope, the promise of a real shot.’ It was Garry who contacted her in 2011 initially about another Liberty Hall article on him, and the re-discovery of her portfolio led to the germination of the book idea in 2018.

Remarkably, it’s taken almost 50 years for most of these classic photos to come to light. Gloriously presented in both black and white and colour, giving the then bravely integrated half white, half black ‘Yankee’ band a larger-than-life quality, they put you right in that space and time with them. Front row action is framed with cigarette packs and beer cans on the lip of the stage. Nicki’s book is augmented with rare contemporary historical images, such as a tour poster and live review, to flesh out the vivid recreation of this time capsule. She portrayed their various characters off as well as on stage, ranging from reserved to extrovert, and a few of her pictures highlighted a Rolling Stone magazine feature on the Texan swing. Only a month later, Jon Landau’s famous ‘rock & roll future’ line would emerge, and the following history is well known.

Few Springsteen books have focused on a particular location and time, but those that have are very welcome, such as ‘Springsteen In Ireland’, ‘Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band 1975’, and ‘Live In The Heartland’. The most comprehensive publication previously documenting images of an early line-up of the band was by David Gahr. Now Nicki Germaine joins that select club, with a revelatory volume that genuinely deserves the label a labour of love, collecting many previously unseen photos of Bruce and the band at the exact time as they were making that first impact in the American South.

Other Details

Bruce Springsteen
Rock & Pop

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