Bruce Springsteen – Live Archive Cuts

Note: I was going to call this post “Is there anybody alive out there?” but that seemed a little… off given the times we find ourselves in.

Additional note: Yes, I’ve heard Gigaton – I think it’s awesome but I’ve nowhere near enough digested it to offer a cohesive review – it’s easily better than their last two albums at least.

Once upon a time (not so long ago), there were only a couple of live Bruce Springsteen albums out there: the comprehensive and benchmark-setting Live 1975-85 and the poorly mixed Live in NYC which mashed up the reunion tour’s final nights at New York’s Madison Sq Garden. Given that Springsteen had only toured with the E Street Band once prior since the release of 75-85 there was a slight whiff of cash-in about it, albeit the vital addition of new songs ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ and the still-best release of ‘American Skin’.

But – just as Pearl Jam lead the way from their 2000 tour onwards by saying ‘enough’ to the bootleggers and making every show available at a professionally-recorded quality, Springsteen has joined the ever growing list of artists to do so via sites such as Nuggs (I’m still not sure what that is to be honest) and his own Live site. Not content with capturing new shows, Springsteen and his team continue to make choice ‘classic’ concerts available to us to either download or fork over a little too much cash considering and get it on CD.

Much like I have with Pearl Jam, I’ve got quite a few of these shows in my library – a couple paid for a fair few… acquired otherwise. So with concerts everywhere currently on hold – not that The Boss was gonna hit the road this year – and a little more time on my hands (cheers for the economy fuck, Covid-19) I thought I’d cherry pick a dozen or so of my favourite cuts from Springsteen’s concert archive to lift the spirits with what the man himself refers to as “the power and the glory of rock and roll!”

There’s no Spotify links for these as they’re not label releases but if you hit me up in the comments I can sort you out for sound. I’ve also steered away from going for too many tracks officially released on the aforementioned live albums.

Point Blank – September 19, 1978; Passaic, NJ

The River was still two years away but Point Blank was already in the set list from ’78 and this version is a ‘beaut.

Prove It All Night – September 20, 1978; Passaic, NJ

The omission of ‘Prove It All Night’ from ’75-’85 was a big ‘wtf?’ from fans because, live, the song had grown beyond its original structure to become an 11-minute epic with a new, screaming guitar over piano intro and organ / drum outro. The version that was released on NYC barrels along but wasn’t the beloved version featured here from the second night at Capitol Theatre.

Night – December 31, 1975: Upper Darby, PA

’75 was a pivotal year for Bruce, the year of Born To Run and he capped it off with a New Year’s Eve show in Philadelphia. How ‘Night’ – their set opener – was omitted from live releases is beyond me.

Fade Away – December 31, 1980: Nassau Coliseum, NY

Five years later… Not all of The River‘s cuts were made to match the energy of Springsteen’s live show and you’d be forgiven for thinking the longer tracks wouldn’t work but as this version of ‘Fade Away’ shows, that album and tour were a great showcase for the band’s musicianship – I love the swirling keys on this.

Rendezvous – December 31, 1980: Nassau Coliseum, NY

It would be years before some of those cuts written for The River were properly released but tracks like ‘Rendezvous’ would often pop up in the set and would later feature on Tracks, much like other rarities such as…

The Promise – February 7, 1977: Palace Theatre, Albany NY

Both ‘The USA / AKA The Lawsuit Tour’ and ‘The Lawsuit Drags On Tour’ in late ’76 and early ’77 were Bruce’s only outlet at the time as the legal battle with former manager Mike Appel kept him out of the studio, the shows would stretch to the three or four hour mark and new songs would appear (some never to reappear) and older songs would see themselves drastically reworked. It would be decades before this much-loved cut properly saw the light of day, let alone made it back into setlists but this early version is a great take. Darkness on the Edge of Town was still over year away – this was from the ‘The Lawsuit Drags On Tour’ – and you can understand why fans were baffled not to find  it on the album when it did drop.

Something In The Night – February 7, 1977: Palace Theatre, Albany NY

Unlike this one which would make the cut but, despite its stateliness, never made the cut for a live album release. I can’t find a video of the version I have the audio for but this is nonetheless a great take.

Tunnel of Love, Roulette – March 28, 1988: Detroit, MI

One Step Up – April 23, 1988: Los Angeles, CA

Jumping forward a tour or two as much of the Born In The USA tour has been covered on 75-85. I’ve already featured one of these archival releases but it’s worth highlighting a few great cuts from it including another song written for The River – ‘Roulette’ and some of Tunnel of Love‘s greatest tunes that would very quickly disappear from regular rotation ‘Tunnel of Love’ and ‘One Step Up’.

Blood Brothers – July 1, 2000: New York, NY

Most expected it sooner in the Reunion Tour but Bruce saved ‘Blood Brothers’ for the last song of the night on the final night of the tour. It’s emotional and powerful as a set closure – he added a verse and you can see in the video that he and other members of the band are  caught up in the emotion – Bruce’s voice breaks as the final song of their first full tour together since the tour behind Tunnel of Love plays out. It’s a vital addition to the Springsteen live cannon for it’s import in the band’s history and made all the more poignant since the passing of Clarence and Danny.

Gypsy Biker – April 22, 2008. Tampa Florida

Tampa ’08 is a strange show. It was the band’s first since the passing of Danny Federici five days earlier. The band feel more like they’re playing for themselves on this show – finding comfort in making music together and the healing therein. As with all shows on The Magic tour (and the album) ‘Gypsy Biker’ is an immense centrepiece.

Kitty’s Back  – September 20, 1978; Passaic, NJ

What fucking numbskull thought it was ok to never put ‘Kitty’s Back’ on an official Springsteen live album?! Well, until they put out Hammersmith Odeon London ’75. Some people have got nothing between their ears…

 

15 thoughts on “Bruce Springsteen – Live Archive Cuts

  1. Must be a tough job mixing Springsteen – there are so many instruments on stage. I only know the 2001 NYC live album – id probably dive into Tracks (I have the 18 Tracks summary disc but never the whole thing) before getting more live stuff.

    • Tracks is definitely worth a dive. 18 Tracks is a weird one and doesn’t do it any favours – there’s easily three great Springsteen albums worth of material on Tracks, the second and third discs are a real treasure trove. Some of my favourite Bruce tunes are on that box

  2. Yeah, I love ‘Tracks.’ As far as the joke you were gonna make, hey, fuck it. You should see some of the morbid shit that’s out there. I listened to a little bit of these but I want to do them justice and not race through them like I’m racing in the street or something. A couple of points:

    -That “live archive” of Springsteen’s is a real treasure trove. I will likely never get to everything up there.
    -Have you watched the British mystery thriller ‘The Stranger;’ on Netflix? It’s really good if hopelessly implausible. I thought of it because, in the beginning, dad is driving the kids to school and singing along with the radio which is playing “Dancing In the Dark.” Dad is going on about what a great song it is and the kids ask if they have to listen to that crap.
    -My wife is just about as big a Springsteen freak as we are and ‘Point Blank’ is one of our very favorites.
    -When I lived in Philly I used to go to the Tower Theater. Great venue. Saw Zappa, ELO there. Others probably.
    -That ’77 tour is when I first saw Bruce at what is now called the Wang Center and used to be called the Boston Music Hall. I went with my girlfriend who is now … my wife. Even then it was hard to get a ticket. I think we were twenty rows back. I’ve never forgotten it.Years later on the Allmans tour that I wrote about, I discovered that one of the guys on my tour had been there the same night.
    -More later.

    • I’ve not seen ‘The Stranger’ – in a completely opposite direction I’ve just steamed through the Tiger King and my mouth is agape.

      • Yes, apparently the world was watching it. My wife watched it and for me it was one of those ‘peek at it if I’m the room’ kind of shows. Welcome to America. This is the kind of douchebags we have here. Far too many for my comfort level.

  3. Finally got around to listening to (most of) these. Fucking ay what a set. Who the fuck do you think you are – the Music Enthusiast? Even Jeff Beck would dig this set.
    The guitar work on “Prove” is brilliant. When I last saw the band, he and Van Zandt duetted on this. I’m going to put these on again later today so my wife can enjoy as well. Thanks for leaning towards the era when they were young and hot. And no Pete Seeger. BTW, Bruce owes us a coronavirus album.

    • Glad you dig em; that era when they were young and hot is a real well to which I find myself returning more and more.
      By my count Bruce owes us:
      Born In The USA box (though I’m working on this)
      Tracks 2
      The lost 90s album
      Seeger Sessions 2
      And Album written during Corona Virus lockdown

      • You forgot “Return to the Boardwalk: Wild, The Innocent Part II.” I want to know what happened to Billy and Diamond Jackie.

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