Follow That Dream

Bruce Springsteen 06/05/1981

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Wembley Arena, London, England, June 5, 1981

By Erik Flannigan

Though they performed four concerts there in 1975 to promote Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s 1981 European Tour was the first proper visit to the continent. Those three months and 33 shows would go on to form a bond between band and fans that persists to this day.

“Most of the audiences we played to spoke English, at best, as a second language,” Springsteen writes in Born to Run. “It didn’t seem to matter. We played to crowd after crowd who let us know they felt about music the way we felt about it….Playing for our fans overseas was, and continues to be, one of the greatest experiences of my life. It fully started in 1981, and it’s never stopped.”

European audiences had been waiting years to see Springsteen on stage, hungry to witness what their ears had only heard, indoctrinated by bootlegs of the ‘78 radio broadcasts as much as by the official catalog. They kept the faith when the UK leg, scheduled as the start of the tour in March, moved to May, and bought enough tickets to warrant second shows in Stockholm and Rotterdam.

Springsteen had been waiting, too. Promotion of his 1975 London dates spurred some antagonistic press outlets to question the hype surrounding him. Despite playing what in hindsight were two great shows in London (one of which has since been officially released), Bruce and the band left on a bit of a sour note. Shows outside the U.S. were never seriously considered on the Darkness tour, so after a nearly six-year gap, Europe remained unconquered and unfamiliar territory when the tour kicked off in Hamburg on April 7, 1981.

Many of us have eye-opening experiences the first time we visit other countries. Viewed through the lens of a new culture, that which we call home can look quite different. Based on quotes and comments made by Bruce at the time and thereafter, Europe ‘81 catalyzed an already evolving perspective on the country and culture that shaped him.

At his first show in Paris, Springsteen altered the familiar introduction to “This Land Is Your Land” and spoke not of Woody Guthrie, but of Elvis Presley, telling a condensed version of the “jump the fence at Graceland” tale before reflecting on the last time he saw Presley in concert. There, he didn’t play his “rocking stuff,” but instead songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “American Trilogy.”

“In the end,” Springsteen told the French audience, “it seemed like the songs that were closest to him and that he sang with the most heart [were] about the land that he grew up in and…the God that he believed in, who I guess he hoped would save his soul. This is a song about freedom, [about not] having to die when you’re old in some factory or…in some big million-dollar house with a whole lot of nothing pumping through your veins.”

The next show, again in Paris, an introduction to one of Bruce’s most personal songs, “Independence Day,” also evolved, as he spoke of reading Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States and gaining insight into “how things got to be the way they are today and how you end up a victim without even knowing it.” Seemingly inspired by his own comments the night before, Springsteen opened that second Paris show with a new interpretation of Elvis’ “Follow That Dream.”

Nine weeks later on June 5, 1981, Bruce and the band took the stage for the final night of a six-show stand in London forever changed by the experience of the tour. It’s a triumphant performance that summons up everything which had justifiably earned Bruce his reputation up to that point along with a sense of realtime awakening and fresh perspective fostered on the stages and streets of Europe.

The night gets off to a cracking start with “Born to Run” straight into “Prove It All Night,” the latter notable for the kind of heightened vocal (listen to Springsteen reach for a higher register in the second verse and chorus) that usually signals a special show. The invitation of “Out In The Street” is met with the full support of the crowd and then we downshift to the aforementioned “Follow That Dream.”

Springsteen’s “Follow That Dream” completely re-imagines Presley’s song of the same name (written by Fred Wise and Ben Weisman), transforming the King’s lightweight ditty into a stark, meditative hymn. Bruce blends new lyrics with lines from Presley’s cut, interpolating strains of Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” along the way to create a striking new original.

The London performance captures all of the song’s evocative power and reinforces how Springsteen’s Europe ‘81 performances show early signs of where his songwriting would go next with Nebraska and the demos for Born in the U.S.A., for which he would cut “Follow That Dream.” Its chant-like quality also echoes the Devils and Dust tour’s set-closing cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream.”

Three songs later, after a stirring “Darkness On the Edge of Town” and “Independence Day,” Bruce’s reflections on Elvis’ final days and the “whole lot of nothing pumping through your veins” from the first Paris show have spawned a new song in its own right, “Johnny Bye Bye.”

Like “Follow That Dream,” Springsteen’s eulogy to the King is a pastiche of musical sources, combining lyrics from Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny” with music and several lines from his own Darkness outtake “Come On (Let’s Go Tonight)” (later released on The Promise box set) and recently penned words. “Johnny Bye Bye” would eventually be recorded with an revamped melody and a faster tempo for Born in the U.S.A. (where it was issued as the B-side to “I’m On Fire”), but the original live arrangement bears poignancy and solemnity not retained in the later version.

The new songs are but two highlights in a stalwart first set that also features superb covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” and “I Fought The Law,” the latter almost certainly a tip of the cap to The Clash, who so memorably covered the song made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four (and written by Sonny Curtis) two years earlier.

The second set provides a showcase for uptempo River songs, plus the underplayed “I Wanna Marry You” (replete with its “Here She Comes” intro) and a rich “Point Blank” which highlights the interplay of Roy Bittan’s piano and Danny Federici’s organ. Bootleg favorites “Because The Night” and “Fire” are perfectly rendered crowd pleasers. If that wasn’t enough, Springsteen debuts his ardent arrangement of the traditional Cajun song “Jolé Blon,” having recently played on and produced Gary U.S. Bonds’ version from the 1981 comeback album, Dedication. Riding infectious lead vocals, “Jolé Blon” is one of Springsteen’s most charming and perhaps underrated covers.

Springsteen is in complete command as a spot-on “Ramrod” leads into “Rosalita” where Jon Altschiller’s mix neatly positions the audience response with the band introductions, including the always appealing “Spotlight On The Big Man” vamp. Kudos as well to Bruce for putting a UK spin on Rosie’s signature declaration: “This is his last chance, for his daughter to get down, ‘cause the record company, Honey, just gave me the big pounds.”

High-spirits carry over to the encore via an impeccable “I’m A Rocker,” while “Jungleland” provides the show its epic denouement. From there, one last nod to the King with brief, earnest cover of “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and finally “Detroit Medley,” augmented by welcome sprints through “Shake” and “Sweet Soul Music.”

Somewhere near the end of the “Medley,” the multi-track recording of Wembley runs out and a fan recording fills in the rest of the song. It seems fitting that this outstanding performance wraps in the hands of a fan, someone who undoubtedly waited those six long years for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to come home to Europe.

I Believe In Your Song

 

Bruce Springsteen
Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ, August 20, 1984

By Erik Flannigan

Nearly three years ago, Bruce Springsteen’s archival download series delivered a previously un-bootlegged gem: Brendan Byrne Arena, August 5, 1984, the first high-quality Born in the U.S.A. tour soundboard from multi-tracks and opening night of the ten-show New Jersey homecoming run. Now, the stunning complement arrives, August 20, 1984, final night of the Brendan Byrne stand.

Featuring memorable guest appearances by Stevie Van Zandt and the Miami Horns, 8/20/84 is justifiably regarded as one of the best shows of the tour and earns a place on the short list of Bruce’s most celebrated shows of all time as much because of what it represented as the music performed. To understand why requires a bit of mental time travel.

For Springsteen fans, the wait between the final show of the River tour in September 1981 and the start of the Born In The U.S.A. tour in June 1984 felt like eternity. In 1982, we got Nebraska, though no tour, as well as Van Zandt’s Men Without Women, released that October. Stevie’s solo debut planted the seed that his future in the E Street Band was in doubt. With his second album, Voice of America (released but a month before Born in the U.S.A.), the question was answered; soon thereafter Nils Lofgren was announced as his replacement.

Today,18 years beyond the Reunion tour and Stevie’s full return to the band, one can forget how devastating his departure felt back then. Springsteen bid him an emotional farewell in song with “Bobby Jean,” as well as in the album credits to Born In The U.S.A. where he wrote, “Buon viaggio, mio fratello, Little Steven,” which translates roughly to, “Have a good trip, my brother.” Kleenex, please.

All of which leads us to the Meadowlands, summer 1984. Nils had earned his stripes over the tour’s first several weeks, gracefully and capably stepping into Stevie’s shoes Born in the U.S.A. occupied the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Top 200 album chart for the entire month of July. And Bruce and the band were rolling into New Jersey for an unprecedented ten shows. In a career of peaks, the summer of ‘84 was one of the highest.

The previously released first night, August 5, is an excellent show in its own right. But as Bruce acknowledges to start August 20, “Well, tonight’s the night.” He knew it. The audience knew it, too. From there, an alchemy of anticipation, occasion and celebration combine to yield an inspirational performance that showcases the best of the Born In The U.S.A. tour arena era, plus singular moments that still resonate to this day.

The first set, heard here in a muscular, guitar-forward mix from multi-tracks by Jon Altschiller, plays out with the confidence of a new line-up hitting its stride (like Nils, Patti was but a few weeks into the band as well). The powerful, electric version of Atlantic City” might well be definitive, with Max’s gut-punch kick drum leading the way. Also from Nebraska comes “Highway Patrolman”; listen for a rare turn on harmonica by Clarence Clemons. We also gain two BIUSA album tracks not featured on 8/5/84, “I’m Goin’ Down” and “Darlington County” (“Cover Me,” in the second set, is a third), plus two other set changes for the regulars: “Spirit In The Night,” setting a proper Jersey backdrop to the evening, and a powerful “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” “I know a lot of you guys been here for more than one night,” Bruce concedes later in the show, “almost everybody.”

Springsteen begins the second set with a crowd-pleasing trio of “Hungry Heart,” “Dancing in the Dark” and “Cadillac Ranch” before dropping his first surprise of the evening. I can only imagine the anticipation people felt as microphone stands were set up behind Roy Bittan.  It is genuinely thrilling to hear the Miami Horns (appearing with Bruce first time since 1977) once again blast the opening refrain of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” From that delirious high point, we slide to one of the tour’s poignant highlights, the solo acoustic “No Surrender.”  

As evidenced by that transition, the show’s pacing–faithful to the core tour setlist, but brilliantly sprinkled with gems–is part of its charm. One senses both the confidence the band had gained playing new album songs over ten nights for hometown fans and Bruce’s desire to make it a night all of them would never forget by closing a very important loop.

The remainder of the second set finishes as strong as the first, with classic stories teeing up “Pink Cadillac” and “Growin’ Up,” along with a charged “Prove It All Night” before wrapping with “Rosalita.” The encore opens in fine fashion with “Jungleland” and then, the moment arrives. “Tonight’s a special night. Little Steven is gonna come up and play with us tonight.” As captured on tape, those words are met with a roar of pure audience elation.

Springsteen’s song choices for the occasion are spot-on. From his own canon, it could only be “Two Hearts,” performed for the first time on the tour. You can hear Stevie’s guitar join the mix as the song takes a few extra bars before locking in. When the pair share the mic at the start of the second verse, the cheer from the crowd bleeds through behind them. But “Two Hearts” merely set the table.

What follows is one of the best live moments in Springsteen’s entire career. The decision to cover “Drift Away” (written by Mentor Williams and made famous by Dobie Gray) is a masterstroke. “[We] learned something special for you tonight,” Bruce says, and shortly thereafter the song’s stately horn line begins and magic fills the arena.

Williams’ heartfelt lyrics, about seeking solace in music when you feel vulnerable, have always struck a chord, which is part of the song’s inherent greatness. Yet in the context of this night, with Van Zandt rejoining Springsteen on stage for the first time since leaving the band, “Drift Away” feels purpose written for these blood brothers, as they trade fitting line after fitting line.

Bruce takes the first verse, Stevie the second (the last line of which is particularly apropos, “Countin’ on you, to see me through”), and they share a memorable bridge:

Bruce:

And when my mind is free, just a melody can soothe me

Stevie:

Listen Brucie. When I’m feelin’ blue, guitars comin’ through to soothe me

Both:

Thanks for the joy, the 20 years you’ve given me/ I believe in your song/ Rhythm and the rhyme and the harmony/ You help me along, making me strong

The emotion in their voices unmistakable. The arrangement then moves compellingly to the song’s denouement, as Bruce brings the band down and lets voices carry an extended chorus. The Big Man’s rich baritone, Patti’s harmonies, even La Bamba’s piercing falsetto all join in to bring the song to magnificent conclusion. The bond described in “Bobby Jean” comes full circle with this performance of “Drift Away.”

After Van Zandt exits, the encore rolls on in high spirits, and the horns come back one last time to enliven “Detroit Medley” and “Twist and Shout – Do You Love Me,” closing out an unforgettable night of rebirth and reunion. Reliving it in high-quality audio today is what the archival download series is all about.

Down Along The River’s Silent Edge I Soar

Bruce Springsteen
Brendan Byrne Arena, East Rutherford, NJ, June 24, 1993

By Erik Flannigan

In contrast to the periods that preceded it, the Human Touch/Lucky Town era has never established the same kind of collective characterization within Bruce Springsteen’s career narrative. We, the fans, have a consensus of opinion on, say, the Darkness tour or Europe ‘81, but 1992-93 remains more unsettled.

By definition it was an aberration, in that it broke from the norm of always touring with the E Street Band. But in hindsight, the greater aberration would have been if Bruce had never toured with other musicians.

For he was hardly alone in choosing to work without his most familiar and beloved bandmates. Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello, each to varying degrees, changed up who they recorded and toured with more than Springsteen. And like Dylan had done many times before, the 1992-93 line-up was assembled specifically as a touring band that would have to learn both old and new songs. In fact, it was Dylan’s friend and unofficial musical adviser, the late Debbie Gold who Springsteen turned to for help finding new musicians to fill some very big shoes.

The result was a diverse, multi-generational, big-band line-up that, with its five gospel-trained back-up singers, wouldn’t have looked out of place on stage with Dylan circa 1978-81. In fact, Carol Dennis had toured (and more) with Dylan and Bobby King has recorded with him. Elsewhere, Lone Justice veteran Shane Fontayne stepped in on guitar, while session musicians Tommy Sims (bass) and Zack Alford (drums) formed the rhythm section. They were augmented by multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero and familiar face Roy Bittan on piano and keyboards. Gia Ciambotti, Cleopatra Kennedy and Angel Rogers rounded out the back-up singers. This was the 11-piece new band.

We can only imagine the pressure these musicians felt at the start, with the shadow of E Street looming over them, and, to be fair, when the tour kicked off in June 1992, the cohesion of a band wasn’t there yet. An 11-night run in New Jersey later that summer (not coincidentally one more than the famed 10-night stand in 1984) was a bold statement of commitment to the new, but at times the striving was palpable.

One year later, back at Brendan Byrne Arena for a benefit concert to fight hunger and kick off a two-show wrap-up to the tour, things felt decidedly different. After touring Europe a second time and having not played a stateside show in six months, Springsteen and the his band returned with newfound ease, cohesion and quiet confidence.

The June 24, 1993 show, captured on multi-tracks by Toby Scott and newly mixed by Jon Altschiller, is a fascinating listen and offers a chance to reassess the 1992-93 band at their best. It also documents the blending of past and present, as guests from E Street and adjacent neighborhoods also share the stage on this genuinely special night.

As he had begun doing so effectively in Europe, the show starts with a strong mini-acoustic set. Bruce and Joe Ely had shared each other’s stages in Dublin a month earlier, and Ely makes his first guest appearance of the night dueting on Woody Guthrie’s “I Ain’t Got No Home.” Springsteen then plays sharp solo acoustic versions of “Seeds,” “Adam Raised a Cain” and “This Hard Land” that point the way forward to The Ghost of Tom Joad two years on.

The rest of the first set (this was the last band tour with an intermission) serves as a fine showcase of new and old material and the strengths of the musicians. Soul and gospel flavors run rich in these versions of “Better Days,” “Leap of Faith,” “Roll of the Dice” (with its “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” Solomon Burke coda) and especially the vocal exchange with Bobby King on the in hindsight quite charming “Man’s Job.” The traditional “Satan’s Jewel Crown” is a particular high point and something clearly born from the singers’ gospel heritage. The rock edge is there, too. “Atlantic City” and “Lucky Town” pack the right punch, and though “Badlands” without a saxophone solo still takes some getting used to, it is well played.

The outstanding second set is sharper still, opening with an acoustic guitar and piano version of “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” that is worth the price of the download alone. Bruce and Roy intertwine magnificently and it is but one of many moments of Bittan’s masterful playing this night. You’ll hear keyboard and piano parts throughout the show that you’ve likely never noticed before as on many songs Roy leads the way.

Elsewhere in the second set, the strength of the gospel chorus is brought to bear powerfully in compelling arrangements of “Because the Night,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Light of Day.” Patti Scialfa joins her husband for “Brilliant Disguise” and a terrific, long version of “Human Touch.” But the heart of the set lies in the three-song sequence of “Souls of the Departed,” “Living Proof” and “Born in the U.S.A.”

“Souls of the Departed” is a sober elegy, accented with audio from newscasts about the Iraq war that make its sentiments crystal clear (similar audio augmentation of “57 Channels [And Nothing On] in the first set isn’t quite as effective). It flows straight into “Living Proof,” a song of rebirth and arguably some of Bruce’s finest writing of the period. From that point of hope and renewal, the light darkens again with a Hendrix-flavored “Star-Spangled Banner” preface and “Born in the U.S.A.,” in which Bruce emotionally pleads, in manner not heard on other tours, “I got nowhere to go. I got nowhere to go. I got nowhere to run.”

The legendary encore that would see old friends like Stevie Van Zandt, Southside Johnny, Max Weinberg, the Miami Horns and Clarence Clemons take the stage largely speaks for itself. It sounds just as fun now as it surely was then. To their credit, the new band plays songs like “Glory Days” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” capably, and the performance of Joe Ely’s “Settle for Love” is a surprise highlight. A Springsteen cover of the song wouldn’t have been out of place on High Hopes.

Beyond the undeniable fun of “It’s Been a Long Time,” “Having a Party” and “It’s All Right,” two other encore songs merit attention. Like “Does This Bus Stop,” “Thunder Road” is another Bruce and Roy showcase, this time with Bittan adding sweet organ fills to Springsteen’s acoustic strumming. Finally, if a single song captures the spirit of this era, it the spiritual dream of “My Beautiful Reward,” played here with sparse beauty.

The 1992-93 tour was a shock to the system for fans at the time. But viewed through the lens of nearly two decades of a reunited E Street Band, the expanded Wrecking Ball line-up and the Seeger Sessions Band, this particular period of musical exploration now feels kindred. Meadowlands ‘93 provides a fine snapshot of a hot, soulful summer night when Springsteen’s past and present united.

Lotus – Live at Red Rocks DVD Now Available

Lotus will release its first full concert film, Live at Red Rocks September 19, 2014, on Monday, September 4th. The concert features a set called Talking Heads Deconstructed with guest Gabe Otto singing Talking Heads songs done in Lotus’ signature style.

“The origins of this show start earlier in 2014 when we were approached by a festival to put together a special set. After a few different ideas, we landed on the Talking Heads Deconstructed idea; mixing in our styles and melodies,” states Jesse Miller. “I was little bit wary of the idea initially because the Talking Heads are covered by so many bands in our scene. But, when it all came together, I thought we were able to give these covers a unique spin that really made these songs feel like our own.”

While most Lotus shows include sampled vocals when necessary, the Talking Heads set features Gabe Otto of Denver’s Pan Astral taking on the role of the group’s frontman, David Byrne. “Gabe brought an energy to the stage that took the performance to an even higher level,” says Miller.

The Talking Heads’ music has been a touchstone for Lotus since the beginning. Their early minimalist-CBGB rock style was steeped in groove, and as they added synths, more percussion and African-inspired rhythms, that core groove held strong even as the musical orbit expanded. The same concept holds true for Lotus after being a band for 17 plus years.

Miller says, “I did not envision a three-year long process getting the licensing to use the Talking Heads’ songs on the video, but I am glad our team finally pulled it off and we can share this show.”

Members of Lotus grew up just miles away from Red Rocks Amphitheatre with some even having their high school graduation there. When the band headlined the iconic venue for the first time in 2012, it was the realization of a longtime dream. They become more comfortable as they returned to Red Rocks and quickly made the venue their own.

“For the 2014 production, we used a lighting design that involved draping hundreds of LED bars around the stage. The position of all the bars were mapped into a software program that allowed 3D patterns used. It took so long to set up, but result was unlike any other stage I’ve seen,” Miller recalls.

The DVD is available for preorder at nugs.net.   Buy DVD – $19.95

Audio only of the show is also available in multiple formats at nugs.netBuy Audio

Action In The Streets 1977

Never Heard Before ’77 Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

2/7/77, Albany, NY and 2/8/77 Rochester, NY

By Erik Flannigan

Bruce Springsteen’s national breakthrough came in 1975 with the release of Born to Run. The album’s supporting tour commenced that July and continued in multiple phases through the spring of 1977 when, after playing some 170 shows, Bruce and the E Street Band finally returned to the studio to record Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

Springsteen’s performances in this transitional era represent some of the most fascinating and vital of his career, with evolving setlists that dug deep into his first three albums, embraced inspired cover songs and, by early 1976, began testing new material intended for Bruce’s next album.

The final stretch of the 21-month trek was an eight-week run in early 1977 that saw Bruce and the E Street Band again augmented by the Miami Horns, the four-piece horn section that first joined the tour in August 1976.

While Springsteen’s 1975 performances are captured brilliantly by the official Hammersmith Odeon DVD and live album along with the Philadelphia 12/31/75 download, the 1976-77 stretch of the Born to Run tour isn’t nearly as well documented. In fact, until now, no soundboard tape of the ‘77 tour has ever surfaced among collectors.

Which is what makes this pair of newly recovered and nearly complete soundboard recordings of the tour’s first two shows–Albany, NY, February 7 and Rochester, NY, February 8–such a significant addition to Springsteen’s live performance history. They provide the first high-quality tapes from a compelling period when no multi-track recordings were made. And in the case of opening night in Albany, not even an audience tape has ever circulated before among fans.

Across the two nights we are treated to a trove of significant performances, beginning with Albany’s audacious opener, a true work-in-progress version of “Something In The Night” featuring remarkable alternate lyrics. Another unreleased song, the freshly penned “Rendezvous,” pops up early in both sets, along with the epic cover of The Animals’ “It’s My Life” and the Miami Horns/Clarence Clemons spotlight number, “Action In The Streets.”

Amazingly, this download marks the first ever official release of “Action In The Streets.” The Springsteen original was performed nearly every night of the ‘77 tour, but would never be played again with the E Street Band. There is also no known studio recording of the delightful soul rave-up, making its inclusion on these tapes all the sweeter in a version so embryonic, the chorus does not yet feature the song’s eventual title!

The two shows do vary slightly, with Albany getting a wonderful and spirited “Growin’ Up,” while Rochester pays tribute to Eddie Floyd with a cover of “Raise Your Hand.”

But for many, the indisputable highlight of the ‘77 tour was its stunning performances of “Backstreets,” which featured an expanded mid-song narrative of betrayal that teems with raw emotion and reaches its crescendo, as captured gloriously on both recordings, when Springsteen shouts repeatedly with mesmerizing conviction, “You lied!”

Albany also includes a striking solo-piano led version of “The Promise” (moved to the encore and joined in progress the next night in Rochester), perhaps the greatest Springsteen original penned in the era and yet another gem uncovered on these remarkable Front of House mix tapes recorded by Chas Gerber. While there are a few cuts due to tape flips, between the two shows we get a complete version of every song performed.

Purchase both shows on CD or Download in MP3, Lossless, or Hi Res Formats at live.brucespringsteen.net.

Checkout these other great press clips around this release

 

nugs.net archives: The String Cheese Incident – 10/30/99

The String Cheese Incident – 10/30/99

It is our pleasure to bring to you, handpicked from the archives, one of the classic shows from Colorado’s own: The String Cheese Incident. With a catalog of 535 shows here at nugs.net, you can enjoy countless hours of the cheesiest jams possible. This show proved to stand out from the rest and is a great example of String Cheese showing off their skills and original style. This “Incident” features sit-in performances and some of the best covers this band can muster. After reviewing numerous shows from this run in 1999, we were immediately impressed with this show and its entire set list and had to include it as a featured “from the archive” for y’all.
Opening with a great rendition of “Miss Brown’s Teahouse,” the show keeps going with classic String Cheese songs from their early catalog. 1999 proved to hold some real gems from this band and you can find plenty of them performed in this very show. This show includes some rarities and even Keller Williams sitting in on bass guitar for Keith Mosley on “Suntan.” Any SCI fan can find something to like within this first set of incredible live music. “Suntan” gives way to the classic Steve Miller cover, “The Joker,” but String Cheese makes it their own, adding reggae/island influences to this version.
Set two does not disappoint, opening with an 18 minute performance of “The Chicken” with great solos and flowing jam structures. This version of “I’ve Just Seen A Face” is one the best covers from SCI and is a must-check-out for any diehard SCI fan—it is full of improvisation and danceable riffs that we keep coming back to listen to. “Vacate” includes another sit-in from Keller Williams; he feels like another member of the band during the time period when this show was performed, and even today. This song is a perfect example of Keller Williams and String Cheese meshing together as a cohesive unit. After countless sit-ins with one another, this show still stands out as a topnotch performance. Obviously, whenever Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” is covered, everyone feels like dancing—and this cover is no exception. The encore “Footprints” is a jazz-fusion jam, which is highlighted in this high-quality version. String Cheese continues to go full force with Aerosmith’s ‘70s rock anthem “Walk This Way”; but again they change it up and add their own country-western-bluegrass style.
18 years later, The String Cheese Incident continues to mesmerize audiences with their spectacular live shows. They have even influenced the next generation of jam artists out there today and have pioneered this industry. You can truly hear the change and growth throughout all of SCI’s extensive collection of live shows on nugs.netThe String Cheese Incident has remained in the top echelon of live music because they deliver these amazing performances every time. Sift through the shows yourself—as there’s plenty more worth experiencing—but do check this show out.