To jump-start the year-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the White Stripes third album White Blood Cells it felt appropriate to dust off a solid recording from 2001. Recorded at the legendary club Vera in Groningen, Netherlands, the White Stripes were in full stride during this their 2nd overseas trip of the year. Opening the show with the a-side to their first single “Let’s Shake Hands” and ending two encores later with the b-side to that same single (“Look Me Over Closely”) and you’d be hard pressed to find a more representative gig from this run of shows. Seemingly shared amongst tape traders since its recording, now is as good a time as ever to make this high-quality recording officially available to the public.
Snarky Puppy is back with another nugs.net streaming release. Four new shows join the 60+ concerts added to the nugs.net streaming library in March. The band’s keyboardist, Bill Laurance, has picked four of his favorite tracks from this month’s releases and compiled them into a playlist that’s free for anyone to listen to in the nugs.net app and desktop player. We talked to Laurance about Snarky Puppy, collaboration, and more:
nugs.net: How has joining Snarky Puppy and the Ground Up Music Family affected your approach to compositional collaboration?
Bill Laurance: Collaboration is an essential part of the creative process and Snarky Puppy and the GroundUP family hold this at the heart of everything they do. I’ve been fortunate to witness over the years how an openness to collaboration can lead to some of the most unique and unexpected results, gifting the music with a wider and often fresher perspective.
nugs.net: You have had musical collaborations within a wide range of the arts from dance to film to sound production and more. Has your work with these various mediums shaped the way you approach improvisation within the live setting?
BL: Most definitely. Collaborating with filmmakers and choreographers provides a fresh perspective on how to tell a story. These days when I’m improvising on stage, I try to think about the story. About the characters and what they might do or what they might say. Writing for dance and film can make you think again about the narrative in the music and I try to represent this when I’m improvising live on stage.
nugs.net: One of the tracks you highlighted in the latest nugs.net x Snarky Puppy playlist is Lingus from 5/5/17 with Jacob Collier as the special guest. Could you tell us about how the sit-in with Jacob came about?
BL: We first met Jacob for the 2nd family dinner album in New Orleans with Snarky Puppy. He’s such a unique and special talent. I like to think that he understands harmony like Neo understands the Matrix. He also lives in London and so we invited him to come and sit in for the show at London’s Brixton Academy. He’s one of those rare musicians who seems to have no limits so watching him play is always going to be something special.
nugs.net: What are four words that describe life on the road with Snarky Puppy?
BL: Family, lobby calls, always stretching, sleep when you’re dead. (sorry more than four…)
Head to the nugs.net app or desktop player and check out the Bill Laurance’s Picks playlist in the free shows section and explore our full library of Snarky Puppy concerts.
I saw more shows on the Tunnel of Love Express Tour—21, to be exact—than on any Springsteen tour prior or since. As a result, 1988 holds a special place in my heart.
By the time I started my Tunnel run, at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, it was clear these shows were purposefully distinct from that which came before, reflected in everything from the billing (Bruce Springsteen featuring the E Street Band) and the band members’ positions, to the addition of on-stage set elements (the ticket booth, the park bench) and, most notably, a set list that varied by only a song or two if it changed at all.
Setlist consistency has historically been considered something of a demerit for the ’88 tour. As I rolled from town to town, show after show, I’ll admit I initially yearned for changes, though that was more to counter my own unusual circumstances than any sense that “the show needs them.” It didn’t.
I now admire the Tunnel of Love Express Tour for its commitment to Bruce’s creative expression. Back in ’88, once I made my peace with the lack of changes and focused more on what he was playing, I came to appreciate the shows even more. Certain gigs (I’m looking at you, St. Louis), still stand out for their performance energy and connection to the audience.
By the time the tour rolled into Los Angeles for a run of five shows (allowing me to sleep in the same bed for more than two nights), I was fully on board. Any changes, should we get them, were icing on an already delicious cake. The fifth and final LA performance on April 28, 1988 is peak Tunnel tour and, with the addition of one extra special song, warrants inclusion in the Live Archive series.
We have revisited this stand before, as the second show on April 23 was released back in July 2015. The first thing you’ll notice about 4/28 by comparison is that the Man in Black has moved your seat forward about 10-15 rows closer to the stage, revealing more sonic detail and placing you right next to the band.
It remains a memorable show opening, as the E Streeters walk out in pairs, then Clarence Clemons, then Bruce, to take us on a ride through “Tunnel of Love” straight into the resurrection of River outtake and b-side “Be True,” carried so capably by Clarence. 1988 was a great year for “Adam Raised a Cain,” bolder than ever with the addition of the Horns of Love. Each version from ’88 released in the series has its own distinct appeal in how Springsteen sings it. The tone of this night is expressed in the slightly tweaked reading of the line, “From the dark heart, baby, from the dark heart of a dream.”
“Two Faces,” so rarely played after this tour, stands out for its pure songwriting excellence. The sweet “All That Heaven Will Allow” prelude with the Big Man on the park bench is heartwarming, a moment of looking ahead in life, not reflecting on his passing as we do now. Bruce mentions that when the weather turns warm, “Girls dig out all their summer clothes,” clearly making a mental note that would be remembered 20 years later for Magic. Equally prescient, while looking at photos of Clarence’s new baby, Springsteen jokes, “In about 15 years, there’s gonna be an E Street Band Volume Two.” He was off by just ten years and one familial branch, in predicting Jake Clemons joining the band.
There’s serious high voltage in the back half of the first set. Springsteen’s full-throated vocals fuel the tractor pistons of “Seeds,” and this “Roulette” is a candidate for best-ever status. Every musical detail is vivid, in particular Max Weinberg’s drumming and Roy Bittan’s piano. “Roulette” melds into “Cover Me,” and perhaps because of the horns, the ’88 editions of the song are my favorites. “Cover Me” gallops with conviction, pace and power, twisted just a shade darker by a few snippets of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”
“Brilliant Disguise” eases off the throttle a little, though one could argue the subject matter is darker still, as desire gives way to self-doubt. Roy and Danny’s gorgeous “Spare Parts” sonata prelude is one of those moments of E Street musical brilliance that never showed up on record but is nonetheless one of their most beautiful contributions to the canon. The full band and horns bring “Spare Parts” to a roaring conclusion that stops on a dime and resets into Edwin Starr’s “War.” Bruce makes sure every line lands, shifting one for extra impact as he swaps “friend only to the undertaker” to “ain’t nothin’ but a widow-maker.”
The first set ends as it did every night on this leg with a fantastic “Born in the U.S.A.” I’ve written before about the emotive guitar solos that marked the long versions of the song performed on the ’88 tour, and this is a case in point. Jon Altschiller’s mix also reveals the multi-part layering of synthesizer and piano sounds by Federici and Bittan that give “Born in the U.S.A.” its staggering keyboard bite. Halftime.
The second set commences with “Tougher Than the Rest,” Bruce’s voice sounding slightly wearier and the swirling guitar sound (from a phaser pedal?) lusher than ever. In “She’s the One,” Springsteen’s vocal command is on point, pushing “She the onnnnnne” to the edge just before the bridge. In the land of malls that was ’80s LA, “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” resonates, and from there the second set only gains momentum. “I’m a Coward” is goofy fun; “I’m on Fire” offers a radical, alternate view on love to the point of obsession; and “One Step Up” nails one of the bittersweet parts of human relationships, another masterclass in songwriting. “Part Man, Part Monkey” turns the mood playful again, reminding us it’s just evolution, baby.
At this point in the set, Springsteen had most frequently played “Walk Like a Man,” occasionally swapping in “Backstreets.” But for weeks, he and the band had soundchecked Ry Cooder’s majestic “Across the Borderline,” and it finally made the setlist for the last two LA shows.
The song was written by Cooder, Jim Dickinson, and John Hiatt for the soundtrack to the movie The Border, in a version sung by Freddie Fender and featuring background vocals from future Springsteen backing singer Bobby King. Cooder put out his own rendition in 1987.
Despite fewer than a dozen performances ever, you can hear the influence of “Across the Borderline” in music Springsteen wrote for The Ghost of Tom Joad and beyond, as his fascination with the intersection of roots music on both sides of the border continues to this day.
The Sports Arena arrangement adds soulful scope while maintaining the Mexican elements of the original versions. The song fits so well because it feels like Springsteen could have written it himself, but that’s really a testament to the quality of the songwriting of the original. “Across the Borderline” is a welcome and worthy addition to the Live Archive series.
From there, hit the party lights, as, aside from the sublime solo acoustic “Born to Run,” the last ten songs of the set turn into an E Street block party. Of note, “Sweet Soul Music,” in rare standalone, non-medley form, brings a fitting bit of Memphis to a horn-driven show. Equally fun is the rare cover of The Sonics’ “Have Love, Will Travel.”
“Have Love, Will Travel” was written by Richard Perry (who also penned “Louie Louie”) and popularized by Seattle garage-rock standard bearers The Sonics, who released their version in 1965 on the band’s debut album, Here Are the Sonics. As the story goes, back in 1984, a record store employee from Seattle slipped Springsteen a Northwest Garage Rock mixtape that included “Have Love”; Springsteen found the song and it became an encore feature for the last few weeks of the U.S. Tunnel tour.
As he so often does, Bruce makes “Have Love, Will Travel” his own, keeping the chorus of the original, but rewriting the verses to fit the nomadic love themes of the tour, while making the arrangement a showcase for the Horns of Love.
When we regard several shows in a particular stand, setlist changes are often cited to distinguish good from great–the more changes the better being the general rule. Yet the 4/28/88 set differs by only one song from the previously released April 23 show. Even when the addition is as significant as “Across the Borderline,” the takeaway is that setlist isn’t everything, as Tunnel tour fans already know and I learned out on the road 33 years ago.
Described by the local press as “deliciously irresponsible” and the first rock concert ever at the grand Teatro Amazonas Opera House, the performance of June 1st, 2005 was simply incomparable. Featuring a devastating cover of Bob Dylan’s “Love Sick”, two versions (one electric, one acoustic) of “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known,” three versions of “Passive Manipulation” (two sublime, one outstanding), a snippet of Howlin Wolf’s “I Asked For Water,” and ample marimba on “The Nurse,” and what you have is one of the most iconic and memorable shows the White Stripes ever played.
Words do not ably describe the beauty of the Teatro Amazonas nor the furor riled up by the White Stripes appearance there. Not only was there fear that the amplification of the band would cause the plaster in the building to crack and possibly fall and injure attendees, but out of custom/fear/lord-knows-what the crowd remained seated until being explicitly asked to stand from the stage by Jack White himself. If that wasn’t enough, during the show Jack and Meg ventured outside the venue to play an entirely unamplified version of “We Are Going to Be Friends” for the assembled multitude of fans unable to purchase tickets and watching the performance via closed-circuit feed. The resultant melee was arguably a riot and was lovingly and all together what it makes is one of the best true rock and roll moments of recent memory. Heck, Jack White even got married that day.
The best White Stripes show? Some folks might say that. Listen for yourself and you be the judge.
Any Springsteen show is special, and every Springsteen show is a candidate to be extra special when surprises enter the setlist or the performance peaks beyond expectation. For those of us who count the number of Bruce concerts we’ve attended by dozens and decades, there’s something immensely satisfying about attending a show you know will be extraordinary.
Such was the case when Springsteen announced the final stand of the Reunion tour: ten nights at Madison Square Garden. Fans across the country and around the world busted open their piggy banks to book flights for what was an E Street sure thing—inevitably special shows wrapping 14 triumphant months on the road.
The legendary final night, July 1, 2000, is already an integral installment in the Live Archive series. Now we’re treated to MSG show No. 8, June 27, 2000, which coincidentally features nine different songs than the finale set. The range of his song selections speaks to the excitement the Reunion tour spurred through deeper exploration of Springsteen’s catalog.
Night eight opens with “Code of Silence,” for my money one of the best true rock songs Bruce has delivered in the 2000s. It kicks off the show with the urgency and energy “Badlands” did so often on the Darkness tour. “The Ties That Bind” follows, the first of those nine changes from the finale, reinforcing the band-fan bond at the outset. “Adam Raised a Cain” has made it onto several Reunion tour Archive releases, and each performance is distinct. Here it starts measured and moody until the guttural guitar solo, after which Springsteen’s voice markedly shifts intensity as he carries the song to a soaring conclusion.
“Two Hearts” into “Trapped,” the dynamics of which remain stirring, especially in the lead-up to the Big Man’s liberating solo. While nowhere near as striking as its stark 1980 readings, the wistful countrified arrangement of “Factory” seems to shift the song to a distant memory with which the narrator has made his peace.
“American Skin (41 Shots)” continues to flourish in these early outings, introduced plainly as just “a new song” for which Springsteen requests quiet. He sings the lyrics vividly, and as each E Street voice breaks through the effect is haunting, as if to show how the tragedy spreads and touches bystanders — and, by proxy, all of us.
The band makes an unusual musical transition from the despair of “American Skin” to the hope of “The Promised Land,” starting angular and edged before softening abruptly for a warm, comforting version of the Darkness staple.
The Reunion tour five-pack ensues, carrying us through the center of the show from “Youngstown” (this night as much of a showcase for Roy Bittan’s piano as Nils Lofgren’s guitar) through “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.” The latter offers tasty detours into Curtis Mayfield’s “It’s Alright,” Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” “Red Headed Woman,” and Patti Scialfa’s mini showcase of her own “Rumble Doll.”
An extraordinary trio of songs follows, cementing this show as a special night indeed. River outtake “Loose Ends” is one of the most deserving songs to be liberated by Tracks. For those of us who cherished our bootleg copies of the song all those years, it is indeed the great in-concert track we always knew it could be.
On a night of highlights, it would be difficult to deny “Back in Your Arms” is the peak. The song was recorded during the Greatest Hits sessions in early 1995 and released on Tracks three years later. Though performed only 15 times with the E Street Band to date, the song enjoys a kind of instant-classic status, so relatable in its subject matter, so appealing in its Stax/Volt arrangement and tone.
I rarely think of a Springsteen song being sung by anyone else, but “Back in Your Arms” so thoroughly invokes Otis Redding, I can imagine how he would interpret it. Beyond Springsteen’s own soulful vocals, Danny Federici’s organ solo shines, as does Clarence Clemons’ saxophone. This particular performance of “Back in Your Arms” is one I will keep coming back to.
If that rarity wasn’t enough, Springsteen fully blows minds with “Mary Queen of Arkansas.” The Greetings track had been resurrected earlier in 2000, at a stop in Little Rock, for its first live reading in 26 years. Curious that when Springsteen toured solo in 1995-97 and again in 2005, he never once performed “Mary.” This is very much a Tom Joad-style arrangement, narratively connecting with that album more than I had previously appreciated. Still a peculiar song, but a great rendition in new light.
“Backstreets” brings the band back in what is an excellent, passionately sung, contemporary version. The E Streeters continue to show their restored prowess with an extremely entertaining “Light of Day.” It starts with a guitar line for the first minute or so that feels like it is lifted from Link Wray or Dick Dale, though I can’t quite place it. (Can you?) Other references are easier to identify: a few riffs from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” slip in, while later “C.C. Rider” and “Jenny Jenny” form an embedded mini-“Detroit Medley” just before Bruce’s familiar “I’ve Been Everywhere” list of cities conquered.
A robust “Hungry Heart” starts the encore, which hits “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” “If I Should Fall Behind” and “Land of Hope and Dreams” as it should, plus one extra treat. Bruce changed his set lists frequently on the River and Born in the U.S.A. tours, and both had their share of setlist surprises. But there was a sense circa 1980-88 that some of Springsteen’s older material wasn’t under consideration. Reunion changed all that. Every song was again a possibility, and “Blinded By the Light” represents that spirit.
I was fortunate enough to attend this show, which started with a brand new song and encored with Bruce’s very first single, the recognition of which was not lost on me then or now. MSG 6/27/00 was extra special, just like we knew it would be.
Snarky Puppy’s full nugs.net catalog is now streaming for the first time ever. In addition to their existing library, new shows from the genre-bending band will be added to the nugs.net catalog on the second Wednesday of every month. We talked to bassist & founder of Snarky Puppy, Michael League about the band, live music, and more:
nugs.net: You’re a formative member of Snarky Puppy, and continue to compose and produce the vast catalog that Snarky Puppy has created. How does the rotating cast of the Snarky Puppy ensemble change your approach to those original compositions within a live setting?
Michael League: We really don’t even try to make the live versions of the songs resemble the studio recordings unless that’s the most effective way to express the song while on tour. It’s about creating the best possible result in the environment in which we are, rather than trying to recreate something that we made in a vastly different environment. And really, the individual players and personalities on stage constantly push the songs in new directions, which for me is the main allure of touring. I love to see the songs grow.
nugs.net: Snarky Puppy’s music transcends the border of the United States, as the live catalog proves. Has the constant international touring affected the live sounds of your performances? Does the culture of the country you are performing in ever lead to live improv inspired by the location?
ML: Absolutely. We named one of our records “Culcha Vulcha” for this reason. Whenever we travel, we try our best in the little time we have to mix and mingle with the great musicians of whatever city we’re in. We’ve spent many late nights and early mornings in places like Brazil, Perú, Turkey, etc. hanging with, listening to, playing with, and taking lessons from the masters of the music from those musical cultures. It’s inevitable that certain things will slip into the music.
nugs.net: Something that stands out to us from the latest batch of Snarky shows on nugs.net is the incredible cast of special guests. It’s an incredible display of cross-cultural commonality. How does Snarky Puppy go about finding each special guest and how do you know each artist will work well with your compositions in a live space?
ML: Most of the guests that join us for live shows are already friends of ours or at least friends of friends. But sometimes we’ll just contact someone we love and respect out of the blue to see if they’d like to join us for a song. The truth is that the music world is very small, so you’re never really more than one degree of separation from a person you respect.
nugs.net: What four words describe life on the road with Snarky Puppy?
A: Family. Food. Growth. Love.
Head to the nugs.net app or desktop player and check out our full library of exciting shows from Snarky Puppy! You can also check out two free playlists curated by Michael League in the free shows section, no subscription required.
The first show of Jimmy Buffett’s Nothin’ But Time 2021 Virtual Tour airs Saturday, March 6th on nugs.net featuring the penultimate date of the 2012/13 Lounging at the Lagoon tour. The “Lounging” tour took Jimmy all over the country from San Francisco to Camden, New Jersey. As the tour came to a close, Jimmy pulled out all the stops for this Mardi Gras week show with 25 songs full of coastal fun.
Taking place on February 5th, 2013 at the Pensacola Bay Center near the Floribama Shore, the show includes rare appearances of “Frank and Lola,” “Floridays,” and more. A highlight of the show, Nadirah Shakoor shines on a reworked “Queen” version of the “King of Something Hot’ to close out the first half of the show.
Midway through the performance, the band goes acoustic for three songs including Will Kimbrough’s “Piece of Work,” “Pencil Thin Mustache,” and Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Southern Cross.” After Eddie Vedder was suddenly no longer able to attend New Orleans’ Jazz Fest in 2012, Jimmy was called in sub-in alongside Mac McAnally and Sonny Landreth. The all-acoustic Jazz Fest set was so much fun that it became a nightly feature of the 2012/13 tour dubbed “The Beach Band”. With Mardi Gras in the air, John Lovell brings a special jazz trumpet flare to “Pencil Thin.”
The show is punctuated with an anthemic and beachy take on Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.” The cover was a staple of the Lounging at the Lagoon tour, only played once outside of 2012/2013 with beautiful horns and Nadirah Shakoor supporting on vocals.
Two encores round out the night. The first catches Mac McAnally taking on “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” before Jimmy Returns to vocals for “Fins.” The second encore is truly something special with a rare tour appearance of “When The Coast is Clear.” It’s a wild and fun Mardi Gras week show from down in the Gulf. Pour your margarita and get ready because we’ve got Nothin’ But Time this Saturday night.
If you can’t make the livestream or want to re-live the experience, this show and every concert from the Nothin’ But Time Virtual Tour will be added to the nugs.net streaming video library for subscribers. For more info and to start a free trial, head to nugs.net/buffett.
By Ben Blackwell, The White Stripes archivist and drummer for Jack White And The Bricks:
I was never legally old enough to enter the Gold Dollar when it was a functioning rock and roll club.
From my first visit on June 6th, 1998 (The White Stripes opening for Dura-Delinquent) until my final time through the front door on August 8th, 2001 (my band the Dirtbombs playing as a kick-off to a West Coast tour) I spanned the ages of 15 through 19. For insurance purposes, the bar was a 21-and-over establishment. But whether by carrying amps, playing the drums or just earnestly convincing whomever was working the door that I legitimately had no interest in consuming alcohol…I was able to see no less than two dozen shows there.
As likely the youngest person to have been a witness/participant in the music scene at the Gold Dollar…I am well aware that I was DAMN lucky to have done so. That may be the coolest thing I am ever even remotely adjacent to and truly embracing it I feel simultaneous both proud and depressed. Most people who peak as teenagers do so as some sort of high school football/cheerleader/big shot on campus bullshit…all things that I was expressly avoiding at that time. Yet, here I am, over twenty years later, still talking about the group that had a half-dozen mildly attended performances within a nuclear blast radius of each other, across five months of 1999 like it’s goddamned “Glory Days” and I’m Bruce stepping back from the mic so that the crowd can shout along the words to the chorus.
Tony Soprano saying “Remember when is the lowest form of conversation” fucked me up more than any other dialog in my life. I feel like I am constantly fighting with myself. Fighting to appropriately appreciate and contextualize the past and at the same time, attempting to downplay it, hoping that I’m currently living something that will be worthwhile to recollect in another twenty years.
While I weirdly never felt like “The Bricks” (a name we’d never called ourselves and were never referred to as when we were actually performing) were a real band, I was, by far, the weakest player in the group of otherwise professionals. I had yet to join the Dirtbombs and prior to my gigs with the Bricks I had played MAYBE three shows in front of a crowd. One of those was a high school battle of the bands. Another in a bowling alley lounge. You know…inconsequential shit. So while an audience recording of this show existed in tape trading circles since immediately after the performance, this multi-track soundboard recording proved revelatory in what had been unheard to my ears since that night. The opening of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” shined through with Brendan Benson’s striking countermelodies on guitar, all but nonexistent on the audience tape. When the opening lyrics came through I was confused…” Why is Brendan singing?” The delivery is unmistakably him, though through years and years of listening on a lo-fi tape I’d never noticed Brendan sang the first two lines…
Dead leaves and the dirty ground when I know you’re not aroundShiny tops and soda pops when I hear your lips make a sound…
Only to have Jack jump in, with gusto, guts, glory, and the response to Brendan’s call..
When I hear your lips make a sound!
I’m not exaggerating here…when I first heard this, clear as daylight, I choked up a bit. I think it’s beautiful and feels like a truly moving moment just accidentally happened to be caught on tape that night.
Although I play drums here, I have few clear memories of what went down that evening. Royal Trux, the headliners, were late to arrive. I believe they showed up after we’d finished our set. My mom was there. It was a school night. I was seventeen years old. Pretty sure I got paid. That’s about it. My entire time in the band I was just making a very poor attempt to play drums like Patrick Keeler. Why I thought I could approximate his style is beyond me, and I often compare myself to Billy Yule playing drums in the last-gasp iteration of the Velvet Underground. I really shouldn’t have been on stage or in this band, but am forever grateful and happy that I was.
The setlist features a couple of songs that aren’t on the Bricks live recording from the Garden Bowl two months prior, which was released as part of Third Man’s Vault #15 in 2013. “One and Two” is an original Jack White song that never ended up being used or recorded anywhere else, which is odd for him. I particularly enjoy the slippery bass playing of Kevin Peyok on this song and feel like he may well have been the glue that held the band together. “Candy Cane Children” feels odd outside of the context of the White Stripes, especially as they never really performed the song live. “Ooh My Soul” is sloppy sloppy sloppy and in my opinion, the first two chords presage what would come later via “Fell in Love With a Girl.”
All my personal caveats aside, the show is a legitimately fun listen. That weird time in ’99 where Jack just seemed like he had so much music seeping out of him that he had to hurry up and start ANOTHER band after the break-up of Two Star Tabernacle and his ousting from the Go…and that band seeming to be COMPLETELY different from either of those outfits or the White Stripes even. I can’t help but stress here, besides “Candy Cane Children” NONE of these songs would’ve been considered “White Stripes” songs at the time of this performance. They were “Jack White” songs that hadn’t truly found their form or footing in the duo format.
Originally included as part of our 27th Vault package back in the first quarter of 2016, the audio here is newly remastered by Bill Skibbe at Third Man Mastering…a facility only blocks away from the Gold Dollar address at 3129 Cass Avenue.
As part of my duties at Third Man Records, I was able to enter what remained of the Gold Dollar building on “official business” not long after the original release of this show. Clad in a hard hat and joined by folks representing the Illitch family that owned the spot…it was a sad collection of four walls, dirt floor, and collapsing ceiling. The idea was to try and see if there was some sort of collaboration that Third Man could spearhead to rehab the building. But damn…all I could think of was that besides the walls, there was no “there” there. As someone who had MANY formative nights in that space and saw more than my fair share of transformative performances on that stage AND could possibly help revitalize it…I was unmoved. I’d rather let the memories exist as they were than invoke a Ship of Theseus experiment. Though I did take solace in the fact that I had finally entered the building legally.
On July 22nd, 2019, the structure would meet its ultimate demise in a suspected arson, the news of which no less than a dozen people felt compelled to immediately share with me. Developers reached out to me directly asking if Third Man would be interested in trying to rebuild/recreate the spot. Dare I even mention that there was talk of Third Man getting the building for a $1/year lease prior to the fire? And that we weren’t interested then? When asked by the Metro Times to comment on the fire at the time I said, “History like what happened at that club, for me, transcends the buildings it happened in. I’m sure there were probably at least five other fires in Detroit today that were far more tragic. Life goes on. This too shall pass. Memories are all that matter.”
I stand by that statement. I think I was unemotional about the fire because I actually had the vague “closure” of being able to walk through that room one last time. Bar missing, mirrors behind the stage disintegrated, finally able to go backstage for the first time (no one ever told me there was a backstage!)…the only sign music ever happened there being a destroyed Half Japanese / Godzuki / Wild Bunch handbill I’d dug out from underneath where the security monitors were. Otherwise…it was just a space, empty for 15 years, left to the ravages of time and the elements and scrappers and squatters and in desperate need of being demolished. You know…a regular building in Detroit.
So here’s to the memory of the Gold Dollar, to club owner Neil Yee for being wise enough to hit “record” so many times, to the sublime summer of ’99, to peaking early, to electric nights of loose rock and roll, played for no one you didn’t know, figuring it all out in the process, working on mysteries without any clues, crystalline and idealized in my mind, me unaware of how clueless I actually was at the time, feeling like there was nothing but opportunity, potential and promise that lay ahead.
While youth may be wasted on the young, why are teenage dreams so hard to beat? I think memories, true, deep, stay-with-you-the-rest-of-your-life-because-they’re-fundamental-to-your-ever-so-fragile-sentience MEMORIES are only thrust onto those who are both sufficiently eager and receiving. Old guys who only talk about old times have closed off their receptors, failing to continue as memory collectors. Scientists say that humans aren’t the only beings that recollect, that rats can have episodic memory, but I doubt those vermin are ever troubled by it. Yet the tenuous balance between nostalgia and living in the moment shows no signs of subsiding in my consistently evolving superego…with all indications that my final actions, final words, and final thoughts on this mortal coil will almost certainly be some act of reminiscing. I hope when I get older I don’t sit around thinking about it, but I probably will. You know…glory days.
Every Springsteen tour starts with a vision and an underlying narrative. What story is our favorite artist telling through his setlist and presentation? Over time, setlists typically evolve and tours explore new themes, keeping things fresh but sometimes departing significantly from the initial concept.
Springsteen’s solo-acoustic tour for The Ghost of Tom Joad was unwavering in conserving its original vision. Beyond special nights in Freehold and Asbury Park, from the earliest shows in late 1995 through final gigs in the spring of 1997, the core songs from the album served as the spine of the show, while Bruce’s performances stayed steely and steady. Nice, France, a stop from the tail-end of the Joad tour and the first Archive release from 1997, presents an opportunity to reassess this compelling commitment from the little-heard fifth leg.
I had the good fortune to see a couple of the early shows on the Joad tour, at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on November 26 and 27, 1995. With the exception of the final encore (and album closer) “My Best Was Never Good Enough,” Bruce performed the same songs from Joad at the LA shows as he would in Nice, more than 120 performances later. “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” “Murder Incorporated,” “Born in the U.S.A.,” and “This Hard Land” are also intact. Adding “Brothers Under the Bridge,” which debuted the second night at the Wiltern, 13 songs remained in the set, anchoring the tale and tone of this special solo outing.
Which isn’t to say those songs are played exactly as they were in the fall of 1995. The Nice performance is unmistakably honed after a year and a half on the road without a band. Case in point: Springsteen’s guitar playing feels less muscular but more masterly. Because the arrangements largely remain faithful, the differences are subtle, but a song like “Murder Incorporated” has evolved from stark noir to more of a beautifully sung cautionary tale, with Bruce’s guitar weaving an unsettling rhythmic bed that lulls us into submission.
“Straight Time,” “Highway 29,” and the title track play truer to form, but there’s extra weariness in the tone of the protagonists that makes their stories resonate all the more. Heard through a post-Western Stars filter, “Highway 29” feels like a progenitor to that recent mastework, especially its title track. Truest of all is the four-pack that served as the lyrical denouement for show. Nice gets sublime readings of “Sinaloa Cowboys,” “The Line,” “Balboa Park,” and “Across The Border,” and the verb is accurate for these near novellas.
On Broadway, Springsteen set up familiar songs with stories and vice versa, but this storytelling sequence is more like an author reading to an unfamiliar audience. As such, Bruce’s performances of the material place a premium on the vivid details that make the narrative spark to life. For a performer who has earned the position of having his audiences eat out of the palm of his hand, brokering this type of connection with more demanding material must have been a fascinating challenge. Admiration for how he pulls it off night after night is well earned.
Other Joad tour stalwarts are also in top form in Nice. The 12-string reinvention of “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” debuted at the Christic shows in 1990, still sends shivers up the spine. “Brothers Under the Bridge” is perhaps the most underappreciated entry among Springsteen’s Vietnam Veterans material. The song was still unreleased when Bruce performed it on the Joad tour (it eventually came out on Tracks in 1998). The final line, “One minute you’re right there, and something slips,” remains one of the most haunting in the canon.
Nice would also see the final tour performance of “It’s the Little Things That Count.” Bruce revisited the song a couple of times at the Somerville, MA solo shows in 2003, but it has been unheard ever since. The song was written for Joad and later considered for Devils & Dust, but it remains officially unreleased in studio form. Gotta love the transition from “Little Things” to “Red Headed Woman”: “Speaking of tongues…”
Of course Joad tour setlists were not totally rigid. Nice finds Springsteen in something of a nostalgic mood, pulling the kindred “Growin’ Up” and “Saint in the City” into the set, connecting the Joad era to Springsteen’s last turn as a solo artist in 1972. He also takes “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” out for an entertaining spin in its tour debut. “Working on the Highway” is good fun, too, exposing the Born in the U.S.A. song’s Nebraska roots — listen for Bruce hitting a particularly impressive high note at the end of “cruel cruel worrrrrld.”
The final reinvention of the night comes with “The Promised Land.” As evidenced by his use of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” to close shows on his next solo tour in 2005, Springsteen is attracted to mesmeric arrangements. The transformation of “The Promised Land” could be the most radical of all his reinterpretations and merits reappreciation for sheer performance beauty and vocal control. We’re transfixed until that final percussive thwack breaks the trance of a spellbinding evening and a tour that stayed true to itself from the first show to the last.
This Saturday Rick Allen, iconic drummer of Def Leppard, will take the stage with Lauren Monroe, the Big Love Band, and a star-studded lineup of rock and country greats to raise money for out-of-work music industry professionals. Guests will include Wynonna Judd, Billy Idol, Allman Betts Band, and tons more.
The Big Love Benefit Concert is available to order now on nugs.net. All proceeds will go to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to the millions of music industry professionals who are out of work due to COVID-19. Ahead of the big show, we talked to Rick and Lauren about the show and more.
nugs.net: What was the most challenging part of putting together an event like this during a pandemic?
Rick Allen: There have been many challenges. From the COVID Compliances, travel, being in lockdown and with all of the chaos happening in the world.. just getting the word out so that people will understand the dire need. Thankfully, we have had an outpour of individuals and organizations that have come forward to donate and help with services and talent. Its been a real community experience with very dedicated people who love the crews and industry workers who are really getting hit hard.
nugs.net: What do you think makes drumming a healing art during these challenging times?
RA: Rhythm itself is always healing but in challenging times it can be a sanctuary. It’s a place my mind can rest and simply be with the rhythm. It’s a calming medicine, a heartbeat we all are connected to.
nugs.net: What advice do you have for new musicians who can’t perform their craft right now?
RA: Keep practicing, keep playing, and improving your craft. Learn new things, pay attention to how you take care of yourself, and help others. Being of service always inspires me, I highly recommend it. Also, “Act as If” and Get ready because this pause won’t last forever.
nugs.net: How did you go about forming the massive lineup for the Big Love Benefit Concert?
RA: I texted my inspiring friends who I know have big hearts… and they all said yes. They are not only extremely talented people but they are very generous and kind. Very grateful for them.
nugs.net: What drew you to Sweet Relief as the beneficiary of the event?
RA: Lauren and I have friends that have been beneficiaries of Sweet Reliefs care. I’ve heard such great things about the organization. It was Laurens idea to reach out to them and I’m so glad we did. I’m very hopeful that the benefit, the merch, and the auction will help them continue to do their good work and help many people get through this devastating time
nugs.net: Lauren, when you wrote Big Love, did you know the message would be so universally relevant beyond the circumstances that inspired it? Especially over the past year.
Lauren Monroe: Yes, I did. What’s been happening in our country is not an isolated picture, it’s an issue around the world. I feel that the message of love and empathy, in the face of fear and anger, is a global message.
nugs.net: What are you most excited about from the concert?
Rick Allen: Really, I’m most excited to be giving back to the industry that has supported me since I was a teenager. It makes me happy to help them. I’m excited to have audiences watch the show and get to know how important our backstage crew is and how the music industry couldn’t exist without them.
Watch the Big Love Benefit Concert on Saturday, January 23rd at 9:00 PM ET on nugs.net.
2020 changed everything we know about the live music experience. The industry as we know it fell apart, but the live music community is resilient. From the moment band names were pulled off marquees the only question was “how do we get back out there?” We saw an evolution of the live music experience, and the way we listened to and consumed live music changed dramatically.
Thanks to the internet, concerts became more accessible than ever in 2020. Fans of all genres no longer needed to be in a certain city or at a certain venue. It didn’t matter whether the show was in a living room or on the track of a motor speedway, every show was available to everyone. Below is a list featuring some of our favorite shows that highlight the ways music adapted to 2020, and the ways we enjoyed listening to our favorite artists:
Before the pandemic hit, we actually got a few months to revel in the true live music experience. The first few months of the year are usually the time for Island concerts and Beacon runs, so we were lucky to get some truly special shows.
Once it became apparent that live audiences wouldn’t be coming back anytime soon, bands reunited in the studio to record shows and share virtually. BIG Something dubbed their studio series “Escape From the Living Room,” I think we all felt that.
When the weather turned warm, drive in theaters suddenly came back into style in ways not seen in half a century. The ability to play a show to a crowd that is safely inside their cars was the perfect solution to getting live music to live audiences in the age of social distancing.
Eventually, spaces with large outdoor capacities began opening with extremely limited and distanced in-person shows. South Farms in Morris, Connecticut became a space for Twiddle, Warren Haynes, moe., and other artists to play live outdoor concerts that fans could safely enjoy. We’ve come a long way from the living room.
Our nostalgia for great concerts of the past is not dissimilar to that of sports. For over 20 years before it went on-demand, ESPN Classic aired some of the most memorable football, basketball, and baseball games of the last few decades. NBA TV still does. You know the stuff: Buzzer beaters and walk-off home runs in game sevens. Bowl and playoff games with miracle finishes or remarkable individual performances. Retro sports programming helped define what constitutes a classic performance and naturally led to the idea of an “instant classic,” a recent game with the same kind of thrilling dynamics as those revered events of yore.
In live Springsteen concert collecting, a (relatively) clear consensus has been reached as to the all-time great shows from his first three decades on stage. Concerts like Passaic 9/19/78, E. Rutherford 8/20/84, and the Christic Institute benefits from 1990 enjoy near-unanimous agreement as to their exceptional quality. Recent archive releases like London 11/24/75 rise from the vault to join them, gaining appreciation thanks to the availability of incredible new audio.
Assessment of performances from the reunion era to today tends to be more subjective. One obvious bias for the current audience comes from having attended contender shows in person, which isn’t the case for most people when it comes to ’70’s and ’80s concerts, save for a lucky few. So what constitutes a post-reunion instant classic?
St. Paul 11/12/12 provides a worthy example. This excellent show checks a lot of boxes. Great versions of songs from Bruce’s most recent album? Check. Strong performances of core, classic material? Rare and surprising setlist inclusions? Bruce calling audibles, telling stories and jumping into the crowd? Check, check and check.
I make it a point not to presume the thinking behind a particular decision Bruce makes, but it does feel safe to infer that his decision to audible “I’m a Rocker” to open the St. Paul show—having never opened a set with it before—likely reflected his enthusiasm in the moment. It’s a lively rendition that sends a cue that the audience is in for an especially good time.
Ensuring his point isn’t missed, “Hungry Heart” comes second, with the crowd immediately answering the call to sing their part, verse one, quite capably. Bruce matches them, singing with intention to connect all the way to the back of the hall. He points to Jake Clemons, who makes the “Hungry Heart” solo more his own than his uncle’s.
“No Surrender” extends the “we’re in this together” sentiment, and the band is playing hot already when we arrive at a four-pack that would be a thrill to witness, for those of us who appreciate great songs that lie deeper in the catalog.
“Night” isn’t the rarest song, but its power and precision always resonate, and it has played a role in many a classic show. Jon Altschiller’s mix nicely balances guitars and piano to propel the performance, and here Clemons follows The Big Man’s footprints appropriately.
The final note holds and charges into “Loose Ends,” the outstanding River outtake in only its 25th live appearance. Again, guitars and Roy Bittan’s piano do the heavy lifting, with Garry Tallent’s bass part richly realized as well. Stevie Van Zandt, perhaps THE strongest advocate for performing outtakes, matches Springsteen’s true-to-the-original vocals and helps make this one of the best live “Loose Ends” ever.
Without so much as a breath taken between songs, Bittan starts the moving piano melody that opens “Something in the Night.” The band is locked in, and Springsteen sings with gravelly passion in a gorgeous overall reading. With feelings already heightened by “Something in the Night,” Bruce selects what for my money is the saddest and most emotional song he has ever written, “Stolen Car.”
In just its second appearance with the band since 1985 (the first being the 2009 River album set at Madison Square Garden), “Stolen Car” is about the recognition of love unraveling. The song’s musical arrangement illustrates the range of the E Street Band to marvelous effect, connecting with as much prowess in the spare grace of their playing on “Stolen Car” as they do in the crescendo of “Born to Run.” “Something in the Night” and “Stolen Car” also carry poignant accents from the horn section, adding new tones and colors to these genuinely profound performances.
Following that memorable quartet we move through the core of the 2012 set with tour-honed versions of “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Death to My Hometown,” “My City of Ruins” and “Pay Me Money Down.”
In addition to making his standard band introductions, Bruce addresses the crowd in “My City of Ruins,” telling them he and the band love “repeat customers” (St. Paul was the only market on the fall arena tour with two shows) and, rather amusingly, that special recognition of their status in the Twin Cities can be fleeting. “We are the band that yesterday had two streets named after us right here in the city,” he brags. “Today, nothing! No streets! Back to Butthole Avenue or whatever it was before yesterday.”
Also slipped into the set after “My City of Ruins” is an exuberant version of “The E Street Shuffle,” complete with horn-section tune-up prelude, an Everett Bradley percussion solo that walks the song to the edge of Santana, and a full outro. Perhaps less faithful than the version on the Christmas release from 11/7/09 but no less fun.
With the second St. Paul concert falling on the Veterans Day holiday, Springsteen worked up the first-ever, full-band version of “Devils & Dust.” The solemn and striking arrangement leverages the full capabilities of the expanded line-up: Curt Ramm’s trumpet and Soozie’s violin set the initial tone; Max Weinberg’s drums along with Nils Lofgren’s and Van Zandt’s guitars carry the majestic middle; and the E Street Choir add their graceful voices as the song eventually grows to its fully realized conclusion.
“Youngstown” feels appropriately positioned just after, reminding us of the plight of veterans who return to hometowns as the jobs that long sustained and provided identity to their working class are disappearing. “Murder Incorporated,” 2012 edition, is a horn-led affair in addition to a triple-guitar showpiece.
Sure, the junior vocalist on “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day” may be in slightly over their head, but 2012 also means we have the E Street Choir to ensure the rest of the singing is sweet (they performed the same service in “Hungry Heart,” which also featured audience members on mic). Choir voices also further enliven “She’s the One” and provide backbone to “Shackled and Drawn.”
“The Rising” and “Badlands” both stick their landings, and the main set concludes with “Land of Hope and Dreams” calling on the horns and extra voices for additional heart and soul power. For the encore, Jake steps into the biggest of the Big Man’s shoes and delivers his own soul power to “Jungleland,” soloing impressively above Bittan’s fluid piano runs. “Born to Run” sustains its crescendo an extra long time, with horn blasts keeping the tension building. “Dancing in the Dark,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “American Land” send everyone home happy and inspired, as well they should.
Perhaps “instant classic” is a term best left in the sports realm, but contemporary subjectivity acknowledged, what more could one want from a Wrecking Ball tour performance than what Bruce delivers on the second night of St. Paul?
For Bruce Springsteen, 2009 began with the Super Bowl and wrapped with a series of memorable full-album performances.
First, a brief history.
Complete, in-sequence album performances date back to the ‘70s, when Pink Floyd played Dark Side of the Moon in order on the band’s 1973-75 tours. In 1989, R.E.M. played all of their first album, Murmur, and their then-new album Green at a special benefit concert. In 1994, Phish began their tradition of “wearing a musical costume” for Halloween shows, covering The Beatles’ White Album end to end and doing the same for albums by Talking Heads, Velvet Underground, and Little Feat in subsequent years.
The full-album trend really took off in the 2000s. One of the catalysts was The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson, who began performing the band’s seminal Pet Sounds in 2000 and released a live recording of his recreation in 2002. From there, the practice became common for bands of all stripes through the rest of the decade and beyond.
Two months after the Super Bowl XLIII Halftime performance, Springsteen kicked off the 2009 Working on a Dream tour. After a European jaunt that wrapped mid-summer, Bruce and the band returned to the States for another round of shows, where it was announced that at select dates they would join the club and play one of three classic albums: Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town or Born in the U.S.A.
Those full album sets were warmly received, but leave it to Springsteen to raise the stakes. With nearly two years of touring coming to an end and an extended break sure to follow, he wanted to do something special for the fans AND the band. And so it came to be that two shows in New York and a third in Buffalo would showcase the other three albums from the band’s first 12 years. Buffalo got Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, and the second night in New York hosted The River, both since released in the Live Archive series. We now hit the trifecta with Madison Square Garden 1 and the first complete reading of The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle as performed on November 7, 2009.
While you can’t beat the thrill of a surprise inclusion in the setlist, there’s a different and equally thrilling anticipation to a show where you know what you’re going to hear but still can’t believe you will. Such was the case with this concert. There is a palpable buzz in the building, amped up as Bruce emerges, turns the time machine dial to 1973, and sets the stage for the evening with “Thundercrack,” the delightful second-album outtake.
“Seeds” is unexpected but works as the follow-up, with Springsteen fully engaged in the narrative. The pace is brisk as we jump to “Prove It All Night,” and the era-hopping extends to “Hungry Heart” — included, I suspect, to ensure the crowd understands their participatory role in the evening. “We need you to bring the noise,” he implores during “Working on a Dream.” And how heartwarming is it to hear Clarence Clemons’ encouraging verbal responses in the background as Springsteen speaks?
With the crowd warmed up, it is time for the main event. “Something that’s never been done before!” Bruce announces before explaining that Wild & Innocent is divided between songs about his New Jersey home and his fantasies about the big city across the river.
The conductor taps, we hear horns warming up, and a perfect “E Street Shuffle” ensues, true to the original album arrangement with Springsteen’s voice hearkening the spirit of the Shore circa the Nixon administration. We’re going in order, so “Sandy” comes next, its poignancy striking an immediate contrast to “Shuffle.” It’s a lovely reading with the right amount of distance, Bruce singing it fully in the moment but with memories in the lyrics still vivid.
“Kitty’s Back” rips like it should, with fantastic accents from the horn section and every player taking their solo spotlight like a boss. Perhaps the rarest song from the album in recent times, “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” is spun as a folk tale, and like “Sandy,” its details are sharply drawn.
Every “Incident on 57th Street” is a cause for celebration and tonight’s is no exception. Close listening reveals especially fluid bass runs from Garry Talent, while the guitar solo riffs on the original but the tone is distinct, accenting a weariness perhaps, and as result feels fresh and moving.
The magical transition out of “Incident” leads us to a joyfully traditional “Rosalita,” played like the album without band introductions. While we associate “Rosie” with set closing, tonight it introduces the final scene and a tour de force performance of “New York City Serenade.”
“New York City Serenade” is arguably the most musically ambitious song to perform in the Springsteen catalog. Much of that weight is carried by the emotive piano playing of Roy Bittan, who leads the way through this rendition, followed by Springsteen’s own guitar work. The song builds at just… the… right… pace, and we hear the congas come in, courtesy of special guest Richard Blackwell — the very percussionist who played on the original sessions — along with Tallent’s lush bass. Then at 3:40, when the Sam Bardfeld-led violin section bows their first note, we’re enraptured. “New York City Serenade” is fully reborn in what has to be one of the finest musical moments of the post-Reunion era.
How do you follow-up 12 minutes of sublime, musical majesty? With “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day,” of course, which acts as a sort of plunge pool as the show shifts tone for a largely upbeat final 90 minutes marked by several notable highlights.
We dip into Bruce’s first album for another Big Apple special, “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” followed by an undeniable request (“It must be done!”), “Glory Days.” It hadn’t crossed my mind that playing one’s old albums is on some level a “Glory Days” move, but taken at face value, it’s just a great version of the song, tagged with several New York Yankees namechecks.
“Human Touch” is another standout, now fully owned by the E Street Band and highlighted by strong vocals from Patti Scialfa. Stevie Van Zandt hits some lovely note sequences around the 5:00 mark that underscore the build to Bruce’s crescendo “Hey Now!” vocal. The extended ending further marks this version as excellent.
The end of the set and the primary encore stay true to the 2009 tour for the most part, moving through “Lonesome Day,” “The Rising,” “Born to Run,” a welcome “Wrecking Ball” with Curt Ramm on trumpet, “Bobby Jean,” “American Land” (again featuring Ramm plus Bardfeld on violin) and “Dancing in the Dark.”
But a show this special deserves a fabulous finale, and we get one with a cover of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” The aforementioned guests join in, including Richard Blackwell, while Bruce shares lead vocals with Elvis Costello. The song famously wrapped another set of shows before an extended break (Boston Music Hall 1977) and was resurrected for the last run of 2009. What a message to share with your audience on a night when Bruce and the E Street Band reached back to their past and soared.
It’s the final night of Hanukkah and the final day of Turkuaz’s ‘8 nugs of Hanukkah’. This year’s holiday celebration brought us audio from live performances, studio sessions, and virtual sessions. Each beautifully unique show will delight both longtime fans and those wanting to get to know Turkuaz for the first time. Check out information on each show and happy Hanukkah from all of us at nugs.net.
In one single rehearsal in a tiny, cramped rehearsal room in Brooklyn just days before Catskill Chill 2015, all 14 of us (Turkuaz, Dopapod and Johnny Durkin) gathered together and hammered out these 14 songs from the Studio 54 disco era. This was a big set for us and the pressure was on. We proceeded to have one of the best times we’ve ever had on stage. This is one we will never forget!
Every year since 2014 Turkuaz has celebrated New Year’s Eve with an event called “The Ball Drop”. This was the first time doing it away from the east coast, in Boulder, CO at the Boulder Theater with our good friend, Swatkins as our guest. The show was sold out and the energy was high. You can hear our high hopes for 2020 mentioned throughout the set, which of course feels strange now. But it’s nice to relive the best part of this crazy year.
Another Catskill Chill favorite. That festival was always so special to us, and this set was one of the most exciting things we’d done at this time way back in 2014. I (Dave) ended up being so incredibly sick with a cold or flu of some kind, and I napped in our van until moments before we went onstage. But then the music started and the energy just exploded. This isn’t our highest quality recording or our most flawlessly executed performance, but the energy is HIGH and we gave it everything we had. Still one our favorites to this day.
This year we all learned new ways to make music in quarantine, and this is the culmination of all the virtual festival sets we put together for the year, including all of L4LM’s virtual events, and Bonnaroo’s Virtual Roo-ality. For Bonnaroo we performed Talking Heads music and our newest single with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew. Considering our Remain in Light tour got postponed, it was great to be able to collaborate with these guys and keep the arrangements fresh in our heads. Even though none of us were in the same room for any of this music, we still had a blast and felt like we were collaborating.
This one we approached less as a live performance, and more as a video tribute. Though you can watch the videos on Youtube, this is the only audio release we’ve done of these Beatles covers which are near and dear to our hearts. This music shaped our childhoods, and we can only hope we did justice to the spirit of this incredible, world-changing band. The videos went over quite well with our fans, and we’ll hope you’ll enjoy this chance to listen to all the songs as one collection here on Nugs.
We just recently released our first ever acoustic performance on digital platforms, along with our friends at Sugarshack who produced it for us. They challenged us to channel our music and energy into an acoustic setting and it ended being a very special experience. It was so special in fact, that in the midst of the quarantine blues this summer, we decided to do our own attempt at yet another acoustic set which you can only hear right here on Nugs.net. This one also came together very nicely. We hope you enjoy this gentler side of Turkuaz!
This was night 2 of 3 of our 2016 Brooklyn Bowl residency. Brooklyn Bowl feels like our home as a band in so many ways, and it’s such a pleasure to release a board recording from this show. This show has two sets. Most special of all is that the second set is our tribute to The Band. This is the only existing recording where Craig, Taylor and Mikey all contribute vocals as well. Yet another night we will never forget!
We’re capping it off with the last documented “Kuadrochrome Era” performance, done at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, NC. To say this place and their team of people are extremely hospitable and masters of their craft is an understatement. They made us feel so at home when we arrived and all through the experience. We feel like this set is one of the most unique blends of live and studio performance that we’ve ever done. It was all done live, but with an incredible team of people in the control room and behind the cameras who we thank for allowing us to release this audio here on Nugs. We hope you’ve enjoyed our 8 Nugs of Hanukkuah!
Twenty years and nine days after it happened, I could not think of a better way to wrap up our monthslong delve into the White Stripes live performances from the year 2000 than with this previously-forgotten recording from Spaceland in Los Angeles on December 8th.
The Stripes first played Spaceland a mere six months prior on June 22nd, having placed an early “hold” on the date at the club enabled them to negotiate a spot opening for Weezer (underplaying using the pseudonym Goat Punishment) in a gig I’m still kicking myself for not even attempting to record or film.
This, their second-ever trip to the West Coast, would be a quick jaunt right as excitement on the band was hitting a fever pitch. Reviews of this show at the time highlight a line around the block to get in Spaceland on this night.
And the show is strong…an inviting mix-up of songs the band had mastered and was flying in and out of sets by that point. Largely devoid of between-song banter (save for Jack apologizing that his guitar broke the previous evening and that he cannot seem to make it be “friends”) and not garnering an encore, I can only posit that the band felt this show was just okay.
Stripes tour manager John Baker recalls that following the performance, the soundman wanted to charge him $200 for a CD of the show. After a bit of wrangling, John was able to obtain it gratis and this gig, recorded directly to CD, is now remastered directly from that original compact disc master.
RIP to Spaceland, later known as the Satellite, which closed down this year and never opened back up. Completely unrelated to the White Stripes, but I have fond memories of running into Lux Interior and Poison Ivy outside there and, man, just saying that feels like it’s something I’ll be telling my grandkids like my mom tells me about seeing Pete Maravich play basketball or Elvis at Olympia or the Rationals at the Michigan State Fair
There’s still some other 2000 material stuff kicking around, some of it only just recently unearthed like this Spaceland gig, but for the time being, we’ll consider the door closed on this year and will excitedly move on to other explorations. For a review of this show at the time of performance, check out the write-up here…
Performing under pressure can bring out the best in us, but it can also skew perception. The long-standing narrative surrounding Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s four-stop European tour in 1975 was that response to opening night in London on November 18 was mixed, in part because the hype leading up to the show was at Second Coming levels — too much for anyone to live up to, even Springsteen.
The official release of that show in the Born to Run box set on video and subsequent standalone audio blows the myth out of the water, as the performance is excellent and every bit as good as the gigs Springsteen played in the States in the weeks prior.
But the London ’75 narrative was a two-parter, the other half being that the response to the first London show motivated an extraordinary second performance by Springsteen and the band at Hammersmith Odeon six days later, on November 24. Whether or not there is a causal relationship between the reception to the first gig and the resulting second show, the myth is right about one thing: London 11/24/75 is brilliant.
After performing 16 songs at Hammersmith 1, Bruce and the band unleash 22 killer cuts at Hammersmith 2, making eight overall changes to the set, a whopping seven of which are cover versions. The mindset seems to be, bust out the full arsenal and hit ’em with everything we got. Boy do they ever, giving a musical history lesson in the process and performing some of the best live versions of material from Springsteen’s first three albums, shifting effortlessly between full tilt and slow, nuanced majesty.
The latter aptly describes the show opener, “Thunder Road,” with just Roy on piano, Danny on glockenspiel, and Springsteen on vocals. It remains a bold and vulnerable choice to start a show, and the performance is sublime. (Five points to the first person to identify who introduces Springsteen to the stage.) The shift to breakneck pace is on full display as the E Street engine turns over and Bruce pushes the gas pedal to the floor on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.”
Jon Altschiller’s mix, taken from Plangent Processed, 24-track analog master reels, moves beyond HD to something closer to 4K, not merely widescreen but razor-sharp, with tremendous spatial depth and ideal balance between band and fans. It’s a step above “you are there.”
Many pixels have been spent on the topic of Archive releases of shows that “we already have in great quality,” with some questioning the need. True, a mostly complete two-track soundboard recording of Hammersmith 2 has been in circulation for many years. But if there were ever a demonstration of the merit of putting out the best shows out in the best quality, London 11/24/75 is it. Comparing the old bootleg to the new multitrack edition is like comparing Charli D’Amelio to Misty Copeland. Sure, they both dance….
The London audience roars its approval as Bruce shifts the setting to New Jersey for “Spirit in the Night,” with the band warmed up and soaring, Stevie Van Zandt and Max Weinberg notably in fighting form. Bruce is getting into it, too, and his vocal intonation gets more expressive by the middle of the second verse as he sings, “By the time we made it up to Greasy Lake.”
“Lost in the Flood” made its tour debut at Hammersmith 1, and this night is one of the song’s finest live outings. The swirling sound of Danny Federeci’s Leslie speaker sets the haunting mood, and Roy comes in ever so delicately on piano. As the song grows and expands, striking guitar work slices through the tension before the flood crests at 5:23 with Springsteen’s high-pitched scream, the crescendo before Roy’s final melodic refrain.
Hammersmith 2 moves briskly from song to song and doesn’t feature lengthy chatter. “She’s the One” and “Born to Run” are examples of letting the music do the talking. The former is played at a humming clip, the latter goes full Wall of Sound, especially Springsteen’s rapid fire guitar in the bridge. “Growin’ Up” and “Saint in the City” serve to catch up the crowd on the early chapters of the Springsteen story.
“Pretty Flamingo” takes the place of “E Street Shuffle” from Hammersmith 1 but retains its soulful spirit. The languorous version allows us to hear the room and the audience as they clap along, embracing the vibe. “Backstreets” is straightforward and strong, then we shift back to fifth gear as “Sha La La” attempts a land speed record, kicking up delicious guitar licks in its dust.
Perhaps as a result, “Jungleland” struggles to find its bearings but ultimately delivers drama and impact. “Rosalita” closes the set with a sense of release that sets up what’s to follow — but only after a bit of fun. When Bruce shouts, “Gimme ten!” in the breakdown, listen for a guitar note that seems to bend into a question mark. The band hangs there for longer than we expect. The audience goes nearly silent, unsure what happens next. Finally, chiming guitar chords and the onslaught continues, pounding the crowd with E Street power, Stevie and Max again leading the charge.
We move to a jaw-dropping encore that opens with an evocative version of “Sandy,” resplendent with Danny’s accordion and the Big Man’s baritone sax. Bruce paints a picture with his words, singing every line with vivid conviction. This is as good as “Sandy” gets.
From there, it’s time for an E Street Jukebox session that is the stuff that built the legend. The tour debut of “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” gets us started, with Bruce turning up the juice on the Elvis Presley tune (written by Bert Carroll and Moody Russell). This is the first release of the storming song in the Archive series and one of only 14 known performances.
Next, we’re on to the “Detroit Medley” and a special disco dance lesson, as Bruce teaches Londoners the “New Jersey Hustle.” That wraps the first encore. The band leaves the stage and Bruce returns for a solo piano performance of “For You.”
Over the course of nearly nine rhapsodic minutes, Springsteen reinterprets “For You” to wonderous effect. Everything changes, from vocal intonation to phrasing to tempo. “You could laugh, you could cry, in a single sound” — I’ve never heard Bruce utter the line quite like this before, and similar reimagining happens throughout the performance. The clarity of the recording is remarkable.
It isn’t just his singing, either, as he thrillingly speeds up the piano behind lines like, “Your strength was devastating in the face of all these odds,” and later when he concedes, “So you left to find a better reason than the one you were living for.” This first appearance of the solo piano “For You” in the Live Archive series is an essential addition.
“When You Walk in the Room” brings pure elation, the Searchers cover soaring and showing the UK group’s influence on the E Street sound, which can be heard all the way up through the River sessions.
The encore continues with “Quarter to Three,” and whatever audience uncertainty was there in “Rosalita” is gone. Springsteen has Hammersmith eating out of the palm of his hand. The show could have easily ended with the Gary U.S. Bonds classic, as many Springsteen shows have before and since, but no. Turns out there’s gonna be an after-party, and Bruce and the band are gonna pull out ALL the stops.
Bruce says he learned to play “Twist and Shout” “out of a Beatle book,” and he uses it to work up the crowd even further as he stops mid-song on “doctors orders,” only to be revived by his bandmates.
Two minutes of sustained applause compels a third encore, and pushing the C1 button brings up Chuck Berry’s “Carol” in its final 1975 appearance. Stevie Van Zandt seizes the occasion for more guitar heroics. That sonic depth noted above can be especially felt when Bruce calls for Clarence’s “big notes” on baritone sax.
Do yourself a favor this holiday season and put a proper stereo on your wishlist. Computer speakers, AirPods, and — God forbid — the speaker on your phone are no way to listen to Bruce Springsteen live.
The epic Hammersmith performance seems to be over, but Springsteen can’t quite walk away, calling out the key of A and breaking into a spontaneous version of another Berry classic, “Little Queenie.” Collectors know the song’s famous premiere at the Milwaukee “bomb scare” show in October 1975; this one shares that same ragged-but-right spirit, along with an unmistakable sense that on this climatic night in London, the end of Bruce’s first-ever visit to Europe, he simply didn’t want it to end.
The White Stripes’ first-ever performance in Madison was a windy Thursday night in a college town where it appeared most of the students had already left for spring break. The gig at O’Cayz was the band’s first after the completion of their sophomore album, the “De Stijl” cover photos taken a mere two days earlier. While still three months before its release, March 16th is, essentially, the first show of the “De Stijl” tour cycle. The band does four songs off the album (some with the intro of “from our new album that’s coming out”), all of which they’d been playing live for months already.
While included in a still-unshared amateur video of the 3/3/00 Magic Stick gig, the version of “Death Letter” included here is the earliest available recorded live performance of what would become one of the band’s mainstay songs, performed at almost every show for the rest of their career. A little more simple than the behemoth it would later evolve into, I’m quite fond of the inauspicious take on Son House’s classic here. Like just about everything with the White Stripes…simple beginnings.
From my perch, the show was solid if not wildly divergent or raucous. The band went on second of three bands…before the headlining Mistreaters yet after Rob McCuen and the Ruins. I always felt the snare on this board mix was just too low for my liking but was eternally grateful that Kevin Meyer (of the Mistreaters) had the foresight to record the show. Bright moments like the seldom-performed “Grinnin’ In Your Face” or “Astro” interluding with a nod to “Peter Gunn” but without the “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” lyrics or Jack saying he invited the mayor of Madison to the show that evening…all stick out to me as welcome, unique turns in the evening.
Most of all, I’m still scratching my head at Jack introducing “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” as having been written by Buster Keaton…a spurious claim I still have no insight as to where in the hell it came from but had blindly repeated for years before realizing that Burt Bachrach and Hal David were the true authors.
Personally, I had a bitch of a ureteral stent removed earlier in the day and found out I’d gotten a full scholarship to college prior to shoving off for Madison….so all around, it was a pretty memorable day.
Loss is one of life’s most challenging experiences. There is no universal path to solace, no prescriptive behaviors to mitigate its pain. But as we process the death of a loved one, at some point in the days and weeks that follow, the one undeniable truth of the situation is eventually revealed: Life goes on.
Just 11 days removed from the passing of Danny Federici, Greensboro opens with a video tribute to the band’s fallen comrade set to the music of “Blood Brothers.” But from there the mood shifts markedly. At the first four shows performed after Federici’s funeral, setlists dipped back to Springsteen’s first two albums for songs like “Blinded By the Light,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” and “Growin’ Up” in tribute to Phantom Dan. There would be time for that this night too, but to open Greensboro, something more cathartic was delivered.
The pairing of “Roulette” into “Don’t Look Back” rivals the best one-two punch from any Springsteen show in any decade. Two stunning, underplayed rockers—one haunting, one life-affirming—blow off the doors of the Greensboro Coliseum, and the release of energy is unmistakably liberating for all.
As the diehard collectors well know, “Roulette” has a very tricky arrangement, especially as a one-off, and here it is played with full conviction in what has to be one of its best modern performances. How convicted? Listen to Bruce declare, “They say they wanna help me but with the stuff they keep on sayin’, I think those guys just wanna keep on playin’.” The guitar solo is searing as well, and Max crushes one of his signature drum parts.
The same can be said for “Don’t Look Back,” which faithfully follows the 1977 arrangement in its only live outing circa 2000-2012 and one of only 31 performances ever. Short-listed for, but ultimately left off of Darkness on the Edge of Town, “Don’t Look Back” remains one of Springsteen’s greatest non-album tracks. In fact, “Don’t Look Back” was so “ready” for Darkness, it is the only song that wasn’t newly remixed for Tracks in 1998. The performance in Greensboro is a faultless rebirth.
One could argue the top of the show isn’t merely a perfect pairing, but a trio, quartet, or even quintet of brilliantly linked performances. The momentum of “Roulette” and “Don’t Look Back” pushes kindred spirit “Radio Nowhere” to new heights. “Out in the Street” (a phrase also uttered in “Don’t Look Back”) bears renewed vivacity and “The Promised Land” brings us home, riding Roy Bittan’s piano and Stevie’s guitar.
Bruce finally catches his breath as we move into Magic territory with a solemn (and timely as ever) reading of the title track with Soozie subbing admirably for Patti. “Gypsy Biker” was a Magic tour highlight every night and continues to deserve consideration as one of the finest E Street Band songs of the 2000s. A heartfelt story follows, as Bruce describes meeting Danny for the first time, preceding a momentarily tentative but ultimately winning “Saint in the City.”
Setlists on the Magic tour were notably tight, and that bang-bang approach is in evidence as Bruce steers “Saint” left into a very fine “Trapped” and follows that with graceful right turn into the Nils Lofgren (and Soozie, too, in Ms. Scialfa’s absence) showcase, “Because the Night.”
The night’s crackling atmosphere sparks a terrific “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” Jon Altschiller’s mix positions piano and guitar ideally. The performance is anchored by an impassioned Springsteen vocal that drops in defeat when he sings the slight variant, “I lost my faith when I lost you,” only to rise to that arresting heightened register to deliver the rest of the verse starting with, “Tonight I’ll be on that hill, ‘cause I can’t stop.” “Darkness” and the “She’s the One” that follows are equal parts vintage and in-the-moment.
By the halftime arrival of “Living in the Future,” the score Bruce has put on the board is at MJ/Lebron levels. And to continue the analogy, those games still make for great, memorable wins, even if the superstars don’t hit quite as many downtown three-pointers or monster dunks in the second half.
The return of a newly streamlined “Mary’s Place” registers as another highlight. “Let’s see if we remember this one…debut on this tour. Come on, let’s try it,” says Bruce with undeniable glee. There is something fresh about “Mary’s Place” mk2, with more echoes of the kind of updated “Thundercrack” or “Santa Ana” vibe that he seemed to be going for in the first place, compared to what the song morphed into on the Rising tour.
Sure, there is something peculiar about spending your sign request on “Waiting on a Sunny Day.” The motivation may have had more to do with being picked for the singalong (which, as it turns out, didn’t even happen for this tidy performance), but we’ll excuse it as well-meaning if slightly misguided. From there, Greensboro moves through a solid back ten that may lack a bit of the first half’s urgency but holds its own, especially the Magic songs: “Last to Die, “Long Walk Home,” and “Devil’s Arcade.” The last of these and “Magic” make their first appearances in the Live Archive series from 2008 performances.
Springsteen and the band ultimately bring Greensboro home in fine form through a long and lively “Badlands,” a musically rich and beautifully sung “Backstreets,” the fitting farewell of “Bobby Jean” (kudos to Clarance for nailing the solo), and the high-spirited finale, “American Land” with Charlie Giordano eloquently deputizing for Danny on accordion.
The recent release of Letter to You on record and film reinforces that life does go on for the E Street Band, and equally that the spirit of those who have departed continue to inspire those who carry on. Greensboro is a wonderful reflection on the process of loss and the power of perseverance.
In 2010, Animal Collective was fresh off the massive success of Merriweather Post Pavillion, a bold and wonderful record that is widely considered one of the most influential albums of the late aughts. Following Merriweather, a question lingered- what’s next? It turns out “next” was a project four years in the making.
Since 2006, Animal Collective had been working with director Danny Perez on the psychedelic visual album that would become ODDSAC. Equal parts audio and visual, ODDSAC is more than the sum of its parts. Meticulously crafted between Animal Collective and Perez, the film is a profoundly weird experience that will draw you in and surround you in its freaky aura. In short, it’s exactly what you’d want to watch on Halloween.
A decade later, we’re happy to report that Animal Collective is still weird and busier than ever. Since ODDSAC, members Avey Tare, Panda Bear, Deakin, and Geologist have worked on all manner of solo and side projects. As Animal Collective, they’ve released studio albums, live records, EPs, and more. One of those studio albums, 2016’s Painting With, was premiered over the speakers of the Baltimore-Washington Airport. They’re always thinking outside the box.
This Halloween, Animal Collective and director Danny Perez are revisiting ODDSAC for a special 10th Anniversary Halloween Party. The event kicks off Halloween night with a welcome set by Geologist and a screening of ODDSAC followed by cast & crew interviews, Q&A with Danny Perez, and DJ sets by Avey Tare, Deakin & Panda Bear. Don’t worry if you’ve already got Halloween plans, after you order the show you’ll be able to start watching whenever you’d like.
Ahead of the big Halloween Party, we talked to Josh Dibb (Deakin) and Brian Weitz (Geologist) about 10 years of ODDSAC, touring, and all things Animal Collective.
On every record, you guys are pushing the envelope, experimenting, and shifting your sound. Naturally, that has to lead to a very different experience on the road each album cycle. Was there an album or era where it was particularly fun to perform live?
Brian Weitz: I’ve enjoyed them all! The shifting you mentioned allows every era to feel fresh so when we start, the nerves are there once again. I don’t think I’d like to be in a band where it felt like the same routine after 20 years. I love the nerves of those early tours when we have a new batch of songs and a new set-up. Then you hit a peak and you know it when you’re at it, and then you know when you’re coming downhill. It feels a little more like endurance. The knees shake for a different reason than when you’re going uphill. That’s when it’s time to regroup. Or degroup. I do want to give a shout out to the Painting With cycle because of how much fun it was to play with Jeremy Hyman. He’s the first drummer I played with other than Noah since 1996 and it was such a fun ride to enter into a new relationship with such an amazing person and musician.
Josh Dibb: They’re all fun. That’s not just a diplomatic answer and of course, there are tours that are hard or challenging, but they all feel exciting for the reason you describe. We change so that we feel like we are exploring new territory for ourselves and we hope that makes the music feel more alive. That is what keeps it fun for us and hopefully for listeners. We never want to get to that place where it’s just a jukebox performance. That being said, one of the tours I had the most fun recently was playing Tangerine Reef live. Tangerine Reef is somewhat of a companion to ODDSAC actually in the sense that we wrote the music to be linked directly to visuals. In this case, it was all video that was created by our friends at Coral Morphologic. We only got to perform it a handful of times but there was something really special about it. The music was on the more ambient side than our normal shows but still had an incredible amount of specificity. Every time we performed it we were playing to the movements and feel of these images that look like the most psychedelic unreal thing you’ve ever seen and yet are actually just coral.
I was listening to a podcast the other day with Dan Deacon and he had some pretty insane stories from touring in the early 2000s. Do you two have any weird or wild experiences from putting tours together during the early days that you could share?
BW: I think we’ve told it before, but probably our most memorable one was in 2002 at an old church in Minneapolis that had become a group house that put on DIY noise shows. They had pizza for sale that was cut into small squares. We passed on it because we had already eaten dinner. At the end of the night, we were told each pizza square had a hit of acid on it but we didn’t know that during the show. People got increasingly weird during our set and a few of them started coming up on stage and tried to have conversations with us about the evil spell we were casting. I think someone tried to take off Josh’s shoes and socks in the middle of a song? One guy wigged out, went outside, and attacked the vans. We got a dent in ours but I think another band got a window punched out. Later on, when almost everyone had left, he was still there crying about how he had lost his leather jacket.
A week later we were on another bill with one of the bands from that night and they had the jacket. They had taken it from the van attacker as a way to get him to pay for the broken window, but he was beyond having a conversation, so they just kept it. Sometimes I think the weirdest part of the story though is that we were offered free pizza and said no thanks.
JD: Brian just told the Minneapolis story. Might have to leave it there. Can’t top that one, but that era of touring holds a special place in my heart. These days there are very few surprises on tour and it’s actually kind of rare to really meet and connect with new people. Back in those days every night was an adventure and for better or worse we were often at the mercy of local promoters and hosts to put us up, feed us, and hang with us. Sometimes that was amazing and sometimes it was uncomfortable but it was never boring. It’s an incredible way to get to know new places.
It’s the 10th anniversary of ODDSAC. A decade later, how do you feel about those four years working on the project and its legacy today?
BW: It’s one of my favorite things we’ve done. Definitely brought together so much of our aesthetic in a way that I don’t think any other single record has done. It was the first chance at really doing sound design and feeling how satisfying it is when you sync an image and a sound. I can’t really speak to its legacy. I know our fans like it, but I have no idea if it is discussed outside of the AC ecosystem. Visual albums are more common these days but at the time it was hard to know how to talk about it (even though I don’t assume anyone who has since done a visual album got the idea from us, and we certainly weren’t the first to make something of that nature.) I remember Gary from Plexifilm telling us he didn’t know how to pitch it to festivals or theaters because it wasn’t a documentary or concert film. It also was not a case of us saying “here is a new AC studio album and Danny made visuals to accompany it.”
We wanted people to know how much of a circular process we went through with Danny in terms of the sound and visuals going back and forth constantly influencing each other. That process felt very unique and we wanted a way of encapsulating it. Dave and I were on our way to the practice space one day talking about how to respond to Gary’s question and we said to each other, “let’s have Gary tell people it’s an album that you have to experience visually.” And then we shortened that to “visual album.” Pretty much every interview we did at Sundance asked us what we meant by that.
Speaking of Sundance, I’ll never forget the day we got accepted because I was actually in Philly and had lunch with Danny. We hadn’t heard anything yet about our submission and that morning Gary told us we probably would have heard by then if we’d been accepted and we should be prepared for a no. We spent lunch talking about all the movies that were Sundance hits that we thought were total garbage and convinced ourselves we had no interest in being part of it. Later that day Danny texted me “We got into Sundance!!!!” and we couldn’t do anything but laugh at how full of shit we’d been all afternoon.
Halloween is probably the perfect night to watch ODDSAC. What do you guys recommend fans do to prepare for the best viewing experience at home possible this Halloween? Mood lighting, lava lamps, etc..
BW: This year, please stay safe first and foremost. If you hang, hang responsibly. Masks up, lights down, and speakers loud. Outdoors would be even better. I know of a few outdoor screening gatherings. I think there is going to be one in an alley here in DC.
JD: Brian already said it, but please be conscious of your safety. We are psyched to be finding ways to continue to connect with people by making music and having an event like this, but we cannot wait until we can be in a club with everyone again. But after that… have fun, dress up, change the lighting, let yourself get weird. Halloween is a time to explore an alternate possibility of our reality. We can do that anytime but celebrate the collective intent on Halloween even if we can’t all be together. Elevate the vibe.
What movies or albums would you recommend people watch or listen to in order to get in the right headspace to watch ODDSAC?
BW: Maybe go in fresh. My set is supposed to serve as an introductory setting the mood kind of thing. Like a processional for an autumn harvest ceremony. There will be plenty of visual and auditory stimulation throughout the event so save your strength.
JD: I’m gonna plug my bandmate. Go listen to Brian’s radio show on NTS.live. I especially recommend the show he did last October. This show has a really good October vibe. It’s moody and spooky and filled with spirits. It starts off with a really incredible piece of sound and music that Brian and Dave made last year under the name The New Psychoactives. The first time they played it for me and Noah I was laying on a floor with my eyes closed and it truly transported me to another plane. What follows is a really great mix of stuff that is worth opening your ears to. Highlights include “Come Maddalena” by Ennio Morricone (who is one of the greatest of all time when it comes to film scores), Ralph Lundsten, Ron Elliot, Valentin Clastrier, a lot of great stuff. Highly recommended for the evening and definitely worth digging through more of Brian’s show anytime you’re looking for something new to stretch your musical mind.
You guys have been hard at work on some new songs, will we hear anything new during the Halloween Party? Is there anything you guys can share about what we can expect from the new music?
BW: No we won’t be premiering anything. The only thing I’d share is we’re really psyched on the new songs. It’s been a challenge to figure out how to make a record during the quarantine without being able to be in the same physical space, but it’s coming together!
JD: nope… no teasers. But we are getting closer and closer to being finished and we’re having fun and psyched on the results. we are still in an era of music writing that began with some shows that we played in New Orleans in 2018. It’s been a long road with a lot of unexpected turns but we are deep in it and psyched for the day we get to share it with everyone.
Brian, you’ve previously said that a lot of your music has been inspired by horror soundtracks, how does that translate into ODDSAC or your Halloween DJ set this year?
BW: I will be doing a live set. I wanted to do the introductory DJ set and was going to make it more of a drone /tape music set. I imagined it serving as the light background music you hear in a theater before the previews as people take their seats. Then I thought about the autumn harvest festival vibes I mentioned above and thought about using music from The Wicker Man, Blood on Satan’s Claw, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders, and some hurdy-gurdy records I’ve been enjoying. But I already do a monthly radio show and get my fill of doing sets like that. I’ve been playing the hurdy-gurdy a bit so I decided it’d be a fun challenge to just do a live improvised set on that instrument with that vibe. Maybe viewers would have enjoyed my first idea more, but had to follow the guts. One of the guys out there who really helped get me started on playing the instrument is a musician named Ben Grossman. He played the hurdy-gurdy for that movie The Witch, so I guess it’s still tangentially related to horror soundtracks in that way.
What are some of your favorites?
BW: The Shining is the best, and one of the more influential pieces of music in my life. Tobe Hooper’s scores for Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Eaten Alive are great and introduced me to the concept of musique concrete. Night of the Living Dead and Carnival of Souls are great for the organs. There is an early 80’s movie called Blood Beat that has a great soundtrack. Just recently discovered that one in the last couple years. Music is admittedly better than the movie.
Josh, What are your personal favorite memories from making ODDSAC?
JD: So many… There was one primary shoot where we got the bulk of the images for the movie. We hunkered down north of New York City in a house with Danny and a crew of incredibly talented camera ops, set builders, and costume makers. It was just kind of a non-stop workshop but also kind of a non-stop party. It was just friends everywhere and something needing to get done. I remember one of the scenes that had Dave covered in red glitter in the house that we built in the middle of a field. I guess it was the food fight scene, I sat off stage and played autoharp for Dave and Annie and Molly to go wild to. That was great, getting to stand behind the cameras with Danny as the fire spinning footage started to come together and just feeling so excited about how everything was looking.
What was it like writing and producing music not just to be heard but also adding in a visual element with Danny during the creation process? Does it change how you approach production?
JD: Yes. this was the crux of the whole project. before Danny had shot anything or we had made any sounds, the 5 of us talked about wanting to make a visual album where the visuals informed the music as much as the music informed the visuals. We wanted the two things to feed each other. There was a lot of effort put into keeping that dialogue going both ways. Our music has always been very informed by the idea that sound can invoke images and spaces and sensations and that is as important as the chord changes and the melody. Finally having a visual collaborator to give us images that acted as a score for us to play to and also to give sounds that informed Danny’s visual decisions. That symbiotic back and forth was key and it was super fun to work that way.
I remember that when we were shooting the fire spinners, we recorded some of the spinning with field recorders so that we could then take those sounds and use them as part of the rhythmic structure of a song. We hadn’t written the song yet, we just knew that would be a great way to relate the image to the sound to the song. Another favorite was working on a scene that comes on about 20 minutes in. Totally abstract visual space. I think that one Danny had made the visual first and I remember spending so much time in the studio shaping the sounds so that there felt like there was this reactive relationship between the image and the sound. We were really using this abstract moving image as sheet music in a way and trying to decipher it to give us a shape for our sounds.
August 18th, 2000 had The White Stripes performing at Detroit’s venerable Magic Stick. Supported by near-and-dear friends (who’d later become bandmates and collaborators), the Greenhornes and Whirlwind Heat, the recording provides a window into the Stripes’ mindset that Summer — just after their West Coast De Stijl headlining tour in June and still yet to experience the insanity of their opening slots for Sleater-Kinney in September. The only known live performance of Captain Beefheart’s “Ashtray Heart” (which they’d just recently laid to tape for eventual release in the Sub Pop Singles Club), a rare live outing for the deep cut “I’m Bound to Pack It Up,” and an electrifying set-ending “Let’s Shake Hands” leave the listener with the palpable sense that something amazing is about to happen for this band.
Until someone provides a recording of the 7/22/00 Beachland Ballroom show (or possibly the 7/15/00 Blind Pig show) this is the earliest White Stripes live recording with Jack White using his soon-to-be indispensable Big Muff pedal. The performance of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” featured here is the earliest extant example of the distorted, feedback-soaked style that would become the standard for this song. The implementation of the green Big Muff Pi pedal here on songs like “Apple Blossom”, “Cannon”, “When I Hear My Name” and others presents dynamic variations on these classics that previously was non-existent, marking a watershed moment in band history that has not been previously heralded.
Whirlwind Heat played INSANELY early this evening. As in, they were already onstage by the time the Stripes arrived at the venue. The room was pretty empty at that point. So much so that Jack felt bad and arranged for the band to go on again…AFTER he and Meg had finished. You can hear him say after the completion of “Do”…speaking on-mic to Heat frontman David Swanson, “Hey Swanson, you wanna come up? Whirlwind Heat will entertain you again.” The band assembled on-stage quickly and played a brief but spirited second set. Classy all around.
The poster for this performance was personally designed by Jack White (as all early Stripes art was) and may or may not have appropriated imagery from a long-forgotten G.I. Joe graphic.
While previously released in 2017 as part of Third Man Records’ Vault subscription series, the version featured here is newly transferred, speed-corrected, and mastered in high resolution. Upgrade!
I’ve written before about the role the Darkness tour radio broadcasts played in the career development of Bruce Springsteen. Broadcast live from the Agora in Cleveland, the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, The Roxy in West Hollywood, and Winterland in San Francisco, those concerts were recorded off air by thousands of people listening at home in 1978. In the years that followed, many wore out their tapes, playing them again and again as the only “official” live Springsteen product until Live/1975-85 was released in 1986.
Through the “magic of bootlegging,” home recordings wound up on illicit vinyl pressings like Piece de Resistance and Live in the Promised Land. Copies of those LPs made their way to Europe, which wasn’t visited by the Darkness tour itself, so overseas fans at least got to hear Springsteen on stage. He and the band wouldn’t return to those shores until 1981; for such Bruce-starved fans, those recordings were manna from heaven.
Without question, the familiarity fans have with the broadcast recordings of shows like The Roxy and Capitol Theatre cemented their status among Bruce’s greatest performances ever. But what if there were another?
It would be an exaggeration to call Atlanta 9/30/78 “the lost broadcast.” But compared to the other four, which were pressed multiple times on vinyl and CD bootlegs, Atlanta is the least familiar, having no meaningful history on bootleg vinyl and a limited one on CD.
The home recording enthusiasts alluded to above were certainly more plentiful in the Tri-State area, for the Passaic broadcast, than in the Southeast for Atlanta. Other broadcasts got wider distribution (the Agora show was syndicated to FM rock stations around the country after the fact) or were simply bigger events to begin with (Bruce’s Roxy appearance was the most buzzed-about show in Los Angeles in 1978). On the other hand, Atlanta and the Southeast were more of a development opportunity for Springsteen that year, and legend has it, stormy weather in the region on 9/30/78 caused reception problems for those who did record.
All of which explains why, as fans traded tapes and bought bootlegs in the ’70s and ’80s, the quality of the Atlanta broadcast, if it could be found at all, was inferior to the other four broadcast recordings, hence its outlier status. But one listen to Jon Altschiller’s new mix from Plangent Processed, 24-track analog master tapes and Atlanta is an outlier no more.
The 9/30/78 set captures the Darkness tour “picked at the peak of freshness,” as the old commercial used to say. It’s like getting a lost episode of Seinfeld, shot but never aired during Season 5. The official release of this Fox Theatre show gives us the chance to fall in love all over again with a spectacular slice of Springsteen ’78.
After a great intro to the stage, the show smashes to a start with “Good Rockin’ Tonight” straight into “Badlands.” Each E Street Band member quickly shows they are in it to win it this night, with first-among-equals Roy Bittan carrying the melodic load with aplomb, as he will throughout the night. “Spirit in the Night” sets the band-fan tenor. “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is flawless, and Bruce sings with total conviction — no more so than on a subtle lyric change, replacing “Where nobody asks any questions or looks too long in your face” with, “You can drive all night, and never make it around.”
Sonically, Atlanta offers crystalline clarity. In the stately “Independence Day,” which Bruce introduces as the “flipside to ‘Adam Raised a Cain’,” the level of instrumental detail — from Danny’s glockenspiel to Max’s hi-hat, Garry’s bass to Stevie’s delicate strumming — is breathtaking and immersive. It pulls you into what just might be your new favorite version of “Independence Day,” a sentiment you are likely to feel across several Atlanta performances. Yes, the audience is mixed just right, too.
The rest of the first set holds to the same gold standard as we move from a faultless “The Promised Land” to a scintillating, extended “Prove It All Night” that’s as good if not better than any version you’ve heard from this tour — and that’s saying something.
The same goes for “Racing in the Street.” Listen for a gorgeous and distinct bit of interplay between Danny and Roy around the 2:05 mark. The first set wraps with the peerless pairing of “Thunder Road” and “Jungleland.” It doesn’t get any better than this.
“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” opens the second half of the show in jolly spirits, and because the fake snow that fell needed to be swept up by stagehands, Bruce and the band vamp by paying tribute to one of Atlanta’s adopted sons, James Brown. They play the Godfather of Soul’s “Night Train” so well, one would think the song was in the set every night of the tour. In fact, this is the only performance ever of “Night Train.”
“Fire” extends the frivolity before the tone turns dramatic via “Candy’s Room.” Danny and Roy again weave around each other in stunning fashion in the long intro to “Because the Night,” which includes a superlative guitar solo in yet another “name a better one” version. The second River preview of the night, “Point Blank,” surely sent anticipation soaring for Springsteen’s next album, with Danny and Roy intricately swirling behind the striking original lyrics.
E Street Band vocals in the “Not Fade Away/Gloria” intro to “She’s the One” have never sounded livelier, the guitar licks never more Link Wray than this terrific extended reading, another reminder of how special it is to re-live such a beautifully recorded document of the tour. “Backstreets” provides a tour de force denouement, with the middle section a Van Morrison-inspired, mind-blowing melange of “sad eyes,” “Drive All Night,” “you lied,” and “we’ve got to stop.” Listening to the Atlanta version will reaffirm everything you love about the song, this tour, and these musicians.
Even venerable “Rosalita” gets an intriguing instrumental introduction more than two minutes long. There are so many moments in Atlanta 9/30/78 that are just a little different from the Darkness shows we know best, and it is all the more compelling because of it.
The traditional but no less exceptional Darkness tour encore of “Born to Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “Detroit Medley” brings us home, and the night ends with one of only eight tour performances of “Raise Your Hand,” far fewer than you’d guess because all five broadcasts are counted among those eight renditions.
With the release of Atlanta, the quintet of 1978 broadcasts in the Live Archive series is now complete, representing not only some of the greatest Bruce Springsteen performances of all time, but arguably the greatest live concert recordings in rock history.
When the Born in the U.S.A. tour kicked off in late June 1984, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band had been off the road for more than two and a half years — or eternity, by Springsteen standards. Contrast that with their previous longest hiatus from the road, 21 months that passed between the end of the Darkness tour (January 1, 1979) and the start of the River tour (October 3, 1980). Prior to that, Bruce and the band had played a significant number of shows every year since 1972.
Not only did 1981-84 represent the longest gap between proper concerts, but the Born in the U.S.A. tour also marked the first personnel changes within the band in ten years, as Stevie Van Zandt stepped out, Nils Lofgren stepped in, and Miss Patti Scialfa expanded the E Street Band from six to seven full-time members.
The song catalog was growing, too. As a double album, The River contributed many new tracks to 1980-81 setlists, but in 1984, Bruce was again supporting two albums’ worth of new material, with one of them a true departure: the solo acoustic Nebraska.
All of which is to say that the early weeks of the 1984 tour marked a period of material change and recalibration to the established Springsteen live show. We can hear that process thrillingly in progress with the release of 8/6/84.
This concert was the second night of an unprecedented ten-show stand at the Brendan Byrne Arena in E. Rutherford, NJ. The sold-out run was strategically placed seven weeks into the tour, which gave the new line-up and material time to gel. With but two exceptions (Montreal and Saratoga Springs), all dates prior to the Jersey stand featured two or three nights in a given market.
Multi-track recordings from 1984 are limited to this Brendan Byrne run, and the Live Archive series has already released two of its finest shows, opening night (8/5/84) and closing night (8/20/84), each worthy in its own right.
What makes 8/6/84 distinct from its predecessors is that it represents what fans in 1984 referred to as the “B” or alternate set. Famous for ever-shifting setlists, when Bruce would play a second or third show in a given city in ’84, he typically changed out songs in the Nebraska mini-set and encores, as well as selected others throughout.
The setlist on 8/6/84 offers eight such changes to the opening night 8/5 setlist (nine if you count, and we should, “Do You Love Me?”). Collectively, they expand our overall perspective of the tour as represented through the Archive releases.
First up is the tour premiere of “Spirit in the Night,” a staple in 1978 that was omitted for all but three airings circa 1980-81 and resurrected here as a surefire crowd-pleaser for the New Jersey homecoming. It’s the third pre-Born to Run song to be featured in a 1984 setlist up to this point, joining “Growin’ Up” and “Rosalita.” The version is a fine one, with the Big Man’s saxophone on point.
After a bang-up “Atlantic City,” “Open All Night” makes its Archive Series debut from this tour. It offers one of most entertaining moments in these early ’84 shows thanks to Bruce’s introduction to the song, a tale of late-night driving on the NJ turnpike and racing the gas gauge needle (hovering around E) before getting pulled over by a highway patrolman. The officer seems to sympathetically recognize Springsteen, only to then drop the hammer on him with the memorable line, “Son, you’re in a lot of trouble.”
When I think of “Open All Night,” this is the arrangement permanently saved in my memory banks, and it is wonderful to have it for the first time in Archive quality. I can say the same for “Nebraska,” and while this is the version released on Live/1975-85, context is everything. This candidate for a definitive reading of the song sounds even better complete with Bruce’s prescient introduction (absent on the 1986 box set) about new technology making people feel isolated from their jobs, families, community, and government. The E Street Band provides perfect, subtle support, with Danny Federici’s glockenspiel and Roy Bittan’s Yamaha CS80 synthesizer adding disquieting, ethereal layers to the track.
“Trapped” is also the previously released version we know from the We Are the World album and Essential. Following “Nebraska” and still riding Bittan’s CS80, it comes off like the cathartic final scene of the mini-set, release coming via Clarence’s sax solo and the soaring voices that carry the chorus.
The end of the first set and start of the second stay true to the core ‘84 setlist, with “Because the Night” the next change from night one, with Bittan brilliant on piano and Patti stirring on the chorus. After a “Pink Cadillac” ride comes a flawless “Fire,” with Clemons’s rich baritone voice in full duet with Bruce’s lead vocals.
The main set comes to a close with “Racing in the Street,” a song that would evolve considerably as the tour wears on, truly coming into its own with a stunning synthesizer-backed story intro in October, November, and December ‘84 performnaces. Those elements aren’t here yet, but as Bittan carries the song through its epic conclusion, we get beautiful, fresh guitar interplay between Nils and Bruce that suggests the song is undergoing a rebirth.
As we move to the encores, Springsteen’s mood is summed up by the “whoop, whoop, whoop” vocal he drops around the 1:50 mark of “Rosalita,” perhaps a simple utterance of joy that night two of this most important 10-show stand was nearly in the books. But not before a few other highlights.
“I’m a Rocker” is a fantastic addition to any encore, and the ‘84 edition gets its due here. And yes, that’s Roy Bittan’s voice you hear loud and clear in the right channel of the chorus. Danny’s faux Farfisa sounds great, too.
But they saved the best for last. Arguably this show’s greatest contribution to the Live Archive series comes in the form of a song only performed on this tour.
Springsteen covered the Rolling Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man” 28 times, all but one in the summer and fall of 1984 (the last was London 7/6/85). This marks the first official release of the song by Bruce and the E Street Band.
Paired brilliantly in a doubleshot with a potent “Born to Run,” “Street Fighting Man” declares, “What can a poor boy do, except to sing for a rock and roll band,” a sentiment Springsteen was likely feeling as the biggest rock star in America during an election year. “Street Fighting Man” is a call to arms, telling us the “time is right for a palace revolution” against those in power. Its inclusion in the set is a not-so-subtle suggestion of where Springsteen stood just a few months ahead of the 1984 Presidential election.
A year later, Bruce famously introduced his cover of Edwin Starr’s “War” by stating,“blind faith…in your leaders…will get you killed.” “Street Fighting Man,” first played on opening night of the tour, and “War,” debuted at the final L.A. shows in ’85, can now be viewed as thematic bookends questioning U.S. leadership, something Springsteen continues to do in 2020.
The more I listen to this performance of “Street Fighting Man,” the more electrifying it sounds. Bruce carries the way with his impassioned vocals, but the band’s contributions are integral, as Garry channels his inner Bill Wyman, Nils finnesses an intricate guitar lead, and Patti pulls the chorus up to the next level.
One song later, Bruce asks the audience, “Do You Love Me?” After hearing “Street Fighting Man” again 36 years later, in an even more important election year, the answer is: now more than ever.
How should we view the Seeger Sessions tour in the context of Bruce Springsteen’s storied performance history? Incredibly, 14 years have already passed since the arrival of the album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions and the tour that followed. That’s roughly the same amount of time as between Bruce’s early 1970 Steel Mill audition for Bill Graham in San Francisco and the release of Born in the U.S.A. (Join me in an unspoken but no less mortified “Yikes!”)
Springsteen’s foray into traditional music is named in homage to legendary folk-music activist Pete Seeger, with whom he had a fond relationship. Bruce was on tour in South Africa when Seeger passed in 2014 at the age of 94. “I lost a great friend and hero last night,” Bruce told the crowd. “We’re humbled to be here tonight in the land of Mandela, a great freedom fighter. We are here tonight in his grace, because he made it possible for us to be here. Pete, back home, was a very courageous freedom fighter also.”
We Shall Overcome surveys the kind of American folk standards popularized by Seeger. The project’s musical approach is often full-on hootenanny, with Bruce backed by a large, loose ensemble of musicians playing with instinct, spontaneity, and just the right amount of reverence. The Sessions Band tour followed a similar blueprint, expanding song selections to include additional folk and roots classics, as well as Springsteen originals re-arranged in kindred styles.
Whether you love folk music or merely appreciate its importance and influence, Bruce’s live performances of that music with this band were undeniably infectious and entertaining. Part of that was down to the man himself seeming as happy as he had ever been on stage, energized by painting with a completely different palette, performing with new companions and a few friendly faces.
The Seeger Sessions album and tour happened in the midst of a fruitful period for Bruce, who released and toured behind Devils & Dust the year before, and would issue and tour in support of Magic a year later and beyond, followed quickly by the same game plan for Working on a Dream. It was an impressive flurry of activity, and because Seeger Sessions was a one-off, perhaps it hasn’t received a deserved reappreciation.
We know it remains near and dear to Bruce. Earlier this year he blessed the YouTube release of the entire New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival performance from April 2006, the first show of the Seeger Sessions tour and one Springsteen cites in this autobiography as among his most meaningful shows ever.
Jazz Fest was also released in the Archive series, providing a fine document of the tour’s early stages. The official Live in Dublin culls highlights from three shows at the end of the tour. To those bookends we add London 11/11/06, which offers the first complete performance from the end of the Seeger run and includes a number of setlist variations to New Orleans and Dublin.
We commence with a show-opening throwback to Bruce’s first single, “Blinded By the Light.” When Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. was released in early 1973, more than a few critics characterized it as folk rock, making its inclusion here all the more fitting. That being said, while I’m no musicologist, the style in which it is performed here suggests File Under Klezmer.
The first half of the London show offers a satisfying mix of high-spirited songs from the album (“Old Man Tucker,” “Jesse James,” “Mrs. McGrath”), some of its weightier material (“Eyes on the Prize,” “Erie Canal,” “O Mary Don’t You Weep”) and Seegerized, story-rich Springsteen originals.
To wit: “Atlantic City” is transformed into a murder ballad rave-up; “Growin’ Up” is appealingly re-arranged with country flourishes and a bit of Dylan influence, too; and “Open All Night” gets something of a juke-joint makeover. The new arrangements cast all three in fresh light that expands our appreciation for each song. “Devils & Dust (which does not appear on the New Orleans or Dublin releases) hues closer to the original arrangement, but it draws upon the chorus of voices in the Sessions band, led by Curtis King and Soozie Tyrell, yielding a beautiful and poignant result.
Late in the show, Springsteen thanks the crowd for “taking a chance on [our] experiment here,” his characterization of the entire Seeger Sessions project. On this night he took that spirit one step further by debuting a brand new song.
The night before his first London show, Springsteen went to see Lucinda Williams play at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, joining her on stage for two songs. Inspired by her performance of unreleased material, the next night Bruce pulls out one of his own work-in-progress originals, introduced as “Gonna Be a Long Walk Home.”
“She was brave because she played all these new songs,” Springsteen tells the Wembley audience. “Between my whoring and drinking, when I come home after that, I sit up in the hotel room occasionally and I try to write.”
The premiere of “Long Walk Home,” a one-off on the 2006 tour, features a number of lyric variations and extra lines compared to the version eventually released on Magic a year later. The final verse of this unique performance includes a sober couplet on the state of America that feels even more relevant today: “Now the water’s rising ’round the corner, there’s a fire burning out of control / There’s a hurricane on Main Street and I’ve got murder in my soul.”
That kind of risk-taking and the enthusiasm for reinterpreting one’s own work are hallmarks of the Seeger Sessions tour, as is the pure, unbridled joy of the performances. London 11/11/06 captures those qualities marvelously.
By Ben Blackwell, The White Stripes’ official archivist
I must admit I have some difficulty writing about White Stripes shows that I wasn’t in the room for. My insight, my drive, my perspective is so driven by the experience. But this performance at the Sit & Spin (or is it Sit ‘n’ Spin…I’ve seen it both ways and it drives me crazy) from December 2000 is just one of those gigs that, even though I wasn’t there for, having listened to the tape for almost twenty years it’s locked into my psyche as a barn-burner.
First off, some details…the White Stripes played two shows at the Sit & Spin on this day. There was an earlier, all-ages show to accommodate minors who’d otherwise be left out due to Seattle’s draconian liquor and live performance laws, and a later one that same night, 21 and up performance.
Funny thing is…we don’t know which of those two shows this recording is from! If I was forced to guess, I’d imagine the later one, but I don’t have anything concrete to back that up. Just a hunch I guess.
Jack and Meg start the show with an impromptu jam. Totally made up on the spot and never to be heard from again. And honestly, for me, I think it’s bonkers good. Just the thick, muscly Jack White Airline guitar tone that was front and center in that era, power chords riffing, Meg kicking ass keeping time, lyrics a garbled mess all except for the barely discernible “Back to School” which we’ve felt was an appropriate a title as could exist for this one.
Everything else performed here feels just as sublime, rare outings for both “Slicker Drips” and “Sister, Do You Know My Name?” delight while a downright volatile run on “Hello Operator” invigorates. Jack even calls out a journalist from local weekly the Stranger in his introduction to “Truth Doesn’t Make A Noise” using the writer’s own words to introduce the tune as a “sketch of a great song.” Asking the crowd for requests and actually following through on someone’s shouting of “Astro” is unabashedly quaint here. And tying it all together with a solo rendition of “You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket” to end the set is a fitting audio denouement for what stands as one of the best live recordings of the band from this year.
For those of us fortunate enough to have seen many Bruce Springsteen concerts and multiple tours, particular shows stand out for any number of reasons, from the people with whom we attended to favorite songs that made the setlist that night. But the most indelible memories often come down to a special, unexpected moment.
Prior to this show, Bruce hadn’t played “Incident on 57th Street” since December 29, 1980, a gap of nearly 19 years, and a performance that itself proved to be a one-off on the original River tour. Hell, the song only got played five times on the Darkness tour. Three decades later, the Reunion tour became a catalyst for the revival of many dormant classics, none more beloved or longed for than “Incident.”
I can only imagine the tears of joy and quivering chins that sprang forth when Springsteen commenced his sixth and final show in Philadelphia with this magisterial reading of “Incident on 57th Street.” I would have been a puddle, overwhelmed by the caliber of the performance. While he would go on to play the song three additional times on the Reunion tour and revisit it on special occasions ever since, if Philadelphia ‘99 had been the song’s only modern airing, it would be held in the same regard as the officially released one from Nassau ‘80.
Despite a long show the night before at the Spectrum (unfortunately not recorded on multi-track due to the venue change for the rescheduled date), 9/25//‘99 finds Bruce in particularly strong voice. On “Incident,” he finds a connection to those vintage versions, singing with real passion, taking his time and sending the song soaring. The E Street Band is also up to the task, needing but that day’s soundcheck to nail the epic. The performance of “Incident” is not a recreation (listen to the fresh edge on the guitar tone) but a thrilling revival of one of Bruce’s early classics.
Springsteen’s vocal prowess continues and the versions of “The Ties That Bind” and “Prove It All Night” that follow ring particularly true across the board: singing, playing, intention. There are already great Reunion shows in the Archive Series, but Philadelphia ‘99 will sound fresher than you expect, as new details jump forth. For example, Jon Altschiller’s sonorous stereo mix treats us to a fantastic Stevie and Bruce vocal exchange on “Prove It.”
The show’s first half runs from strength to strength, with peak Reunion takes of “Two Hearts,” “Atlantic City” and “Factory.” “Point Blank” arrives with a captivating organ and saxophone intro in what is its first Reunion tour performance released in the Archive Series. “Point Blank” is not a song you think of as a Clarence Clemons showcase, but his textures start the song on an appropriately unsettling note, and later, Steve’s guitar solo is similarly edged.
“Youngstown,” “Murder Incorporated,” “Badlands,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” (which also bears some tasty fret work from Van Zandt) are strong as they were night after night in 1999, with “Tenth” dropping in on “Red Headed Woman” and a very sweet verse and chorus from The Temptations’ “My Girl.”
The party atmosphere extends with “a little last taste of summer for you,” “Sherry Darling,” another showcase for the musical and vocal chops of the E Street Band who are in collective top form.
The tone shifts movingly with the first full-band performance of “Streets of Philadelphia” in its namesake city. The modern Springsteen masterpiece is beautifully rendered, Van Zandt’s background vocals adding richness.
The evening enters the rarified status of hosting not one but two circa 1973 epics, with “New York City Serenade” (itself only recently revived after a 24-year slumber), delivered in stunning fashion in what might be its strongest ‘99 performance. Each E Streeter wraps themselves in musical glory: Stop it Stevie. Stop it Big Man. Stop it Roy. You’re killing us with your melodic beauty.
The set winds down in largely expected fashion, but Philadelphia ‘99 does add two additional songs to the Reunion tour Archive roster. Clarence Clemons’ great night extends to his most famous saxophone solo in “Jungleland,” which is spot on. I can’t imagine the band has played “Jungleland” better than this in the modern era. The other new addition is the show-closer, “Raise Your Hand,” played as the pure soul classic it is and celebrating the band-fan bond that Philadelphia has offered since the very beginning.
If you’re looking at Philadelphia ‘99 and thinking it is “only” 22 songs long, remember six of those tracks top the ten-minute mark on this night of epic performances. I’ve heard longer Reunion tour shows, but I’ve never heard stronger.
On Saturday, August 7, 2010, Phish played the final show of a sold-out three-night stand at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, CA. The bar was set high with the previous two shows and expectations soared. The 2010 Greek run found the band reaching higher each night, basking in the glow of this historic venue and attentive crowd. The show opened with an old school pairing of AC/DC Bag > Foam followed by Gotta Jibboo – all played with the same patient, open approach displayed over the previous shows. Next came a soaring Reba as Trey’s new guitar emitted a flow of pretty leads and staccato runs amidst Page’s intricate Rhodes runs. 2010’s last Sleep Again and Army Of One provided a moment of reflection before a sizzling 46 Days > Tube. Mike held Tube’s last bass note, providing the bridge to a sing-a-long Character Zero to end set I.
After another sunset over the San Francisco Bay, the band kicked off set II with Wilson > Light. The Greek Light climbed to pinnacle heights, bending and floating to a sublime place before resolving into The Golden State’s first Twenty Years Later. Harry Hood followed, with ghost notes on a second snare drum, press rolls, and percussion wizardry from Fish while the music hung in the night air and reverberated across the Greek’s open bowl. Theme From The Bottom came next and then they shook the trees with 2001 > Suzy Greenberg and a spacious Slave To The Traffic Light. The first The Lizards encore in nearly fifteen years came next and First Tube put the finishing touch on an incredible three days of music at one of the most stunning spots there is.
Today we’ve added legendary performances from one of the greatest rock bands of all time to our catalog. The Who are now available in the nugs.net app and on our web player. Fans can enjoy three timeless shows that drop them into the crowd in 1970, 1980, and 2015. Here’s everything you need to know about these classic shows.
Filmed on June 26, 2015 as The Who celebrated their 50th anniversary, this stunning show with 65,000 fans in attendance at London’s famous Hyde Park is a triumphant return to their home city. This massive event formed a fitting culmination to The Who’s 50th anniversary celebrations and the set includes classics like “My Generation,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Pictures Of Lily,” “I Can’t Explain,” “You Better You Bet,” “Who Are You,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “Join Together,” “The Kids Are Alright,” “I Can See For Miles,” and many more! This grand scale concert, complete with huge screens surrounding the stage and an exceptional light show, holds true to Pete Townshend’s promise at the start of the set: “You’re a long way away…but we will reach you!”.
The Who (Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle, and Kenney Jones) delivered both classic tracks and rarely performed songs: “Pinball Wizard,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” “My Generation,” “Substitute,” “Who Are You,” “I Can’t Explain,” “See Me Feel Me,” “Baba O’Riley,” and many more. The tour promoted the 1982 album It’s Hard and the set list was comprised of several tracks from that album, some of which the band would only play live on this tour. The Who’s 1982 North American tour was their last to feature Kenney Jones on drums and the band did not tour again until 1989. This concert film features the show from the second of their two nights at New York’s Shea Stadium and was filmed on October 13th 1982.
This new edition of Murray Lerner’s film of The Who’s legendary performance at the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival features newly restored pictures and remixed sound to finally give this amazing concert the quality release it deserves. Accept no substitute and play it loud! The tracklist includes:
1) Heaven And Hell 2) I Can’t Explain 3) Young Man Blues 4) I Don’t Even Know Myself 5) Water 6) Medley: Shakin’ All Over / Spoonful / Twist And Shout 7) Summertime Blues 8) My Generation 9) Magic Bus
From “Tommy”: 10) Overture 11) It’s A Boy 12) Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker) 13) Christmas 14) The Acid Queen 15) Pinball Wizard 16) Do You Think It’s Alright 17) Fiddle About 18) Go To The Mirror 19) Miracle Cure 20) I’m Free 21) We’re Not Gonna Take It 22) See Me Feel Me / Listening To You 23) Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Many nations can lay claim to being Bruce Springsteen’s second home or adopted country. Italy has a strong case, given the ancestral roots of Bruce’s mother Adele (maiden name Zerilli) and a history of special shows that took place there, particularly in Milano. England is in the conversation too, with an incredible run of concerts dating back to 1975, and the passion of Spanish fans is well documented on Live in Barcelona. Australia may be a latecomer, but there’s no denying the love affair between Bruce and the land down under that played out in two major tours in 2014 and 2017.
Yet it would be hard to deny Sweden the symbolic honor of first among equals. Sverige’s history with Springsteen also dates back to 1975, when it was one of three markets Springsteen played on a brief European sojourn on the Born to Run tour. But the special relationship really starts with a pair of shows inside the very building in which this Devils & Dust performance takes place. Then called Johanneshovs Isstadion, the venue was the site of two legendary nights on the 1981 European leg of the River tour, memorialized on the famous vinyl bootlegs Follow That Dream and Teardrops on the City.
Four years later, Gothenburg cemented its place in the narrative with two dates at Springsteen’s home away from home in Sweden, Ullevi Stadium. Legend has it the passionate response of fans in Ullevi actually caused structural damage to the building in ‘85, and Springsteen has played the stadium nine times since that human rumble took its toll. Throw in the 1988 radio broadcast from Stockholms Stadion, the Tom Joad tour at Cirkus, and many other celebrated gigs, and the case is quite compelling. The country’s passion for Springsteen never wanes. Case in point: He sold out three stadium shows in Gothenburg alone in 2016, where it would appear he is as popular now as he was in 1985.
You can hear the special bond with Bruce’s Swedish fans on Stockholm 2005. Jon Altschiller’s mix showcases the audience-artist dynamic and the interplay between the two that makes live performance so special and so missed in these times of social isolation.
One element that made the Devils & Dust tour so bewitching was ever-changing setlists. At nearly every stop, Bruce dusted off a few songs that had been sitting on the shelf awhile and added them to a common core. In Stockholm, he opens with the tour debut of “Downbound Train,” hearkening back to those Ullevi ’85 shows. Boldly, the second song of the night is one of the highlights of that common core, “Reason to Believe.” Springsteen completely reimagined the song on this tour, transforming “Reason to Believe” into a Delta blues stomper with his inventive use of the bullet microphone.
Bullet mics are designed for harmonicas, with intentionally limited frequency range (usually cutting anything above 5,000 khz) and distortion. For his new take on “Reason to Believe,” Bruce played harmonica and sang his vocals through the bullet mic, distorting his voice and crunching down the sound to an eerily narrow slice.
The result sounds like an otherworldly transmission from the Crossroads or a lost Bluebird 78 RPM record spinning in the past. Rearranging his own songs is something Springsteen has excelled at going all the way back to “E Street Shuffle,” but this radical and riveting “Reason to Believe” is one of his most memorable and a standout every night of the Devils & Dust tour.
“Empty Sky” from The Rising had a second act on the tour as well, making close to two dozen appearances. The mournful tale rides Springsteen’s percussive acoustic guitar and focused vocals. Two guitar songs follow, the heartfelt parental reflection “Long Time Comin’,” which gains poignancy when Springsteen sings off-microphone, and the least-played track from Devils & Dust, “Black Cowboys,” which made 16 setlists in 2005.
Bruce moves to the keys for a rare outing of “The Promise,” in its first ever performance in Sweden. What a moment that must have been for diehard fans, five years before it became the title of the Darkness on the Edge of Town box set. We go down to “The River” on piano as well, with a striking prelude that starts with a single note, builds, swells and then settles solemnly before Bruce sings the evocative first lines.
Though it had been a standard feature on the Tunnel of Love Express tour, Bruce’s entertaining evolution tale, “Part Man, Part Monkey,” had its own second life on the Devils & Dust tour, a narrative befitting the candor Bruce was expressing about human behavior in story and song during the shows, sometimes in deeply contrasting ways. Several Link Wray guitar turns only add to the appeal.
“All I’m Thinking About” is an underrated charmer. Sung in a faltering falsetto, it’s a series of sweet, real-life snapshots (little boys carrying fishing poles, little girls picking huckleberries) set to a simple chorus of devotion (or obsession?). Two songs later in “Reno,” fishing poles and blueberries give way to a price list of front and back door sexual access. Damn.
Snuck in between (no pun intended) is “Across the Border,” played for the first time since the Joad tour, augmented with a rich, accordion-like harmonica. You’d never know Springsteen hadn’t played it in so long, his reading is faultless.
Over to the irresistible eclectic piano we go for “Point Blank,” sounding more haunting and knowing than ever, then a true gift, “Walk Like a Man,” making its second archive appearance this year. Springsteen starts it on electric piano (not unlike the arrangement of “Tunnel of Love” from the previously released Grand Rapids 2005 show) and it unfolds warmly. It’s interesting to note that when he last played the song in 1988, he had no children of his own. Singing it here, Bruce is son and father. The song’s gravitas rises for the final verse as Bruce switches to full piano and the arrangement grows richer and more confident. What a gift to have two incredible live versions in our hands now.
That theme of fatherhood is enhanced with the piano pairing of “Walk Like a Man” with “My Hometown” in a powerful, straight-ahead reading where every line rings true. With that, the first half of the show concludes and we move back to guitar for “The Rising” and an intense take of “Lucky Town,” with Bruce strumming his acoustic with physicality and conviction like “Darkness on the Edge of Town” at the 1990 Christic Institute performances.
The back nine of the show rides his conviction to excellent performances of a trio of story songs, “This Hard Land,” “The Hitter,” and “Matamoros Banks.” One might go so far as to call “The Hitter” the closest thing to an unpublished screenplay Springsteen has penned since “Highway Patrolman” and until Western Stars, where it could have slotted in nicely. As character studies go, it is one of his finest.
As he does so masterfully, Springsteen rounds the bend and lightens the mood with a storming, Seeger-ized “Ramrod,” Dylan-ized “Bobby Jean” and a true-blue “Blinded By the Light,” making its Scandinavian premiere 32 years after its release.
The show wraps with the soul-stirring Devils & Dust tour pairing of “The Promised Land” and a cover of Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream,” both offered in meditative, at times mantra-like arrangements. In “Dream Baby Dream,” the words “keep on dreaming” and “I just want to see you smile” sink into our subconscious, floating on dark-cloud organ notes that brighten as they turn towards heaven. Given the genuine dark clouds that so many of us are weathering, the spiritual power of the “Dream Baby Dream” mantra may provide genuine solace.
We’re back with another edition of our Staff Picks series, highlighting the favorite songs and shows from our nugs.net team members. This third volume comes from our stream technician, Jacob Lima. Over the past year, Jacob’s been all over the world working to beam shows to your living room. Take a peek at his favorite shows from across the years.
So I’ll start off this list with one of my favorite recent shows. Talk about a Denver barn burner.. this show was it! With most Colorado shows ending well before the 2 AM state-mandated liquor curfew, when Goose came on at about 11:30 PM everyone was ready for a standard Cervante’s Other Side 90 minute set, but what we got was a screaming two-set show going well past 3 AM. Wasting no time and starting off with a killer Madhuvan they carried the energy not just through the entire night but for the rest of their four-night Colorado run as well!
I have always been a huge fan of Artifact and believe the album encapsulates perfect jamtronica harmony, with the post Artifact years being my favorite STS9 era. While I was tempted to pick any show from the amazing 5 night run at Boulder Theater, also in 2007, I’d say this is my personal favorite tribe show ever! Starting off the night with Interplanetary Escape Vehicle in its entirety, unbeknownst to the audience, the last time early Tribe staples HB Walks To School and Quests would be played live, this show is full of Sector 9 classics from start to finish.
An instant favorite since the first moment I heard these guys, almost any of their shows would fit this list. I’ve been lucky enough to catch them more than a few times and have never left a show short of mesmerized. Acoustic guitarist Billy Strings has the classic bluegrass chops to pick with the likes of Del McCoury and John Grisman, and then jam with Widespread Panic the next day.. talk about spectrum. His shows are the way.
Coming in hot into Boulder Theater directly after headlining Red Rocks, the monster Hangover encore from this show is not to be missed. One of my all-time favorite Umphrey’s songs, and still the best version I’ve heard to date, closed out a fantastic 2 night Colorado performance. I love a long noodly jam as much as the next guy.. but this ain’t it. Hangover highlights Umphrey’s ability to change time signatures on a dime with no less than five changes in this six-minute song.
Any time Sam Bush and Cheese get together, especially on a Sunday, you know you’re in for a good time, and this show does not disappoint. The Whiskey Before Breakfast and Lonesome Fiddle Blues > North Plains Jam > Lonesome Fiddle Blues from Set I are some great examples of some nice Cheesy bluegrass with the Rivertrance from Set II also showcasing the spacey jam side of Cheese.
The Jeff Austin years of Yonder will always hold a special place in my heart and while all the shows from this five-night run were amazing I’m gonna have to pick the NYE show as it contains a great Half Moon Rising and a killer rendition of New Speedway Boogie to close out the run. Oh and did I mention Darol Agner sat in on fiddle for the ENTIRE show??
I joined the Dead & Company family this year and hopped on tour with these guys to facilitate all the live video streams and my favorite moment of 2019 is a flub. You heard me right. Although I don’t pick this moment for the musicianship of the band, but for what it says about us, the fans. I think Deadheads and other jamband fans, at least in general, are a pretty open-minded, relaxed, accepting bunch. If you spend any time on the Internet forums you might have a different opinion but in-person jam shows are like Olive Garden, when you’re here you’re family. And how do these fans react when the band they hold to very high esteem makes a huge glaring error and has to completely restart a rare Box of Rain? With one of the loudest cheers, I heard all year. It’s a perfect metaphor for the mentality of (in my humble opinion) one of the coolest music fan groups. Understanding that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, but we’re also all in this together and being loving and accepting of your fellow man, warts and all, is one of life’s true kernels of meaning.
Subscribers can listen to highlight’s from Jacob’s picks in the nugs.net app!
May’s Third Man Thursday is here just in time for the holiday weekend with a very special release. Oberlin 2000 was a cornerstone moment for The White Stripes and now the transformative show is available to stream in the nugs.net app. Ben Blackwell, The White Stripes’ official archivist returns this month with a recap of the show below.
We left Cincinnati later than we should have. A visit to Shake-It Records looms large in my memory and we definitely rolled straight to the club, Dionysus. On the campus of Oberlin College and apparently run by the students there, what could be an easy target to shit on is actually pretty damn cool. I mean, hell, the college I was enrolled in that semester wasn’t booking Sleater-Kinney.
The show itself still sticks out as one of the most transformative the White Stripes EVER played. Like if there was ever so clearly a “before” and “after” moment in the history of the White Stripes live shows, I’d push the pin firmly into the date September 16th, 2000.
I don’t recall the crowds the previous two nights (Chicago and Newport, KY) necessarily “getting” the Stripes. Sure, the performances were solid, folks may have even picked up on it a little, but they were big rooms, law of averages probably explains it. But at Dionysus, man, it’s a small room, maybe 400 capacity, and with a low stage, the space felt like a basement…hot and sweaty, probably not being utilized for its intended use and primarily populated with kids who’ve got NOTHING better to do. Receptors open, transmissions receiving…just give ’em something worthwhile and the response will be wild.
Watching from the merch table at the back of the room, you could feel the band take off. The show starts off interestingly enough (can’t ever recall “Your Southern Can Is Mine” appearing so early in a set) and from around “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” onward, its as if afterburners are on full throttle, every move just of-the-moment and powerful and important and happening right in front of your face.
After futzing around for months, the fuzz feedback mainline of “Dead Leaves” is finally firmly established in the way all would come to know and love it. “Death Letter” is the raucous rail-splitter while the placid verses of “Stop Breaking Down” achieve the song a tempered duality as leveraged by the absolute savage slide of the choruses, while the uncharacteristic off mic screaming in “One More Cup of Coffee” has you realize that mind-bending covers of Son House, Robert Johnson and Bob Dylan poured out one after the other in rapid succession, a most holy trinity of White Stripes heroes if there ever was one.
From “Astro” forward…there’s so evidently a transcendent musical connection between the two entities on stage, of the same brain, taking action without thought, a Darwinian evolution that should crawl across millennia transpiring in matter of mere minutes. On a Saturday night. In Ohio.
Listening back now, nearly 20 years later, it STILL gives me goosebumps. The way “Jack the Ripper” (a song they’d goofed on a handful of times previously) melts into “Farmer John” (a song they’d NEVER previously goofed on) and straight into, hands-down, the best version of “St. James Infirmary” the band would ever perform and arguably epicenter of the aforementioned “before” and “after” designations.
To lay ears to the recording now is to hear “St. James” evolving in real time as an arrangement heretofore unknown, just exploratory explosive accents primally bashing away as entree to the song, unrecognizable from its released version, pummeling inauspiciously into the first verse, Jack’s voice rich, full, expressive, like a vase holding ten thousand orchids hand-painted by O’Keeffe. Then completely out of left-field, Jack offers the second verse double time, damn near jazzy or show tune(ful), humbly paying respect to the roots of this Cab Calloway composition. In my recollection of the evening, I feel like I was holding my breath at this moment. As if to ask, timidly, scared, fearful of failure or catastrophic collapse “can they do it?” And wildly, with abandon, Meg is RIGHT there with him, never missing a beat for the next TWO verses. Weeks, days, shit a half HOUR early this would have been impossible. The chops were not there, the telekinetic o-mind wavelength was, previously, nonexistent. And without ever telegraphing the move, out of nowhere, Jack calls verse four back to the explosive accents, half-time, reigning it in with a delightful smirk, at this point completely showing off how shit hot he and Meg are. Just making it up as they go at this point, verse five crosses back to double time, the intensity somehow amplified, improbably kicked up a few notches and culminating into one solitary, strong expositional statement, like a goddamned full-body statue of Teddy Roosevelt, arm outstretched, pointing, confidently, ready to decimate whatever gets in the way. And that, you little maniacs, is when the White Stripes first hit that apex, as if levitating, where they could do no wrong. Exquisite beauty. The reason we are all here today.
A few songs later and unexpectedly, Jack just starts making shit up off the top of his head. We’ve labeled it “Keep On Walking (improv)” here and that, again, you lucky freaks, is the first time the White Stripes ever just made something up in front of a crowd. Said approach would be responsible for some of my personal favorite moments from the band (including “Little Cream Soda” even though I wasn’t even there to witness it in person) and straight into “Screwdriver.” Jack teases, if only for a moment, the drawn out and confrontational manner of both the MC5’s “I Just Don’t Know” and the Gories “48 Hours” and yet somehow builds upon it. Goes further. Creates distance. Catches nirvana.
Leaving the stage after said culmination, you can hear the crowd just losing it. Apeshit. The opening act, who almost certainly no one there even knew of prior to this evening. EVERYONE was urging them to return for an encore, including the members of Sleater-Kinney, who were all but pushing Jack and Meg back onstage. Really, truly, this never happens, it should never happen, yet witnesses to history and this tape prove, “Let’s Build a Home” just smokes before the tape runs out in a brief moment of Basinski-esque disintegration.
I’m a bastard when it comes to hyperbole…I HATE when people blow shit out of proportion. I don’t have time for it. But I honestly do not think the White Stripes ever played a more perfect show. Yeah Manaus ’05 was bonkers, Tasmania ’06 is electrifying, Mississippi ’07 brings tears, Detroit Institute of Arts, Peel sessions…there’s no shortage of GREAT shows with this band. But ones where everything clicks. Where the band is almost a visage in hyper-speed while their surroundings are but props calcified in amber, where it feels like the incalculable number of nerve endings of every last synapse of every living being in the world were all connected onstage that night…well, damn, Oberlin it is. Because while those other shows may carry more emotion, may explore further depths of the catalog, or engaged multiples of more fans…September 16th, 2000 was the catalyst that enabled all of them to ever happen.
This being our fourth year on wonderful Jam Cruise, and with two sets every year, we were eager to mix things up this time around. We decided we wanted to cover something really special, but not too obvious. Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome has been a long time favorite album for Taylor, and then in turn for the rest of us over the years.
We decided ahead of time that this would be a great opportunity to get other musicians involved and do a “Turkuaz and Friends” type thing, which we almost never do. So basically we just called up a bunch of friends to do it (Karl Denson, Robert Walter and basically the entire amazing band, Ghost Note). What we didn’t realize was that the specifics and complicated nature of each song was by far the hardest cover material we’d ever learned. So many random horn lines, harmonies, things that happen 12 times, and then 5 the next, and then 17 the next. Damn near impossible to get everything right. But we practiced a bunch with our own band, and really learned the tunes to a high level of detail. Then as it got closer we thought – “man, without a rehearsal with our guests – this is gonna get interesting!” Spoiler – everyone did an amazing job, guests and band alike. So kudos to them on that! As far as winging some things and just letting it happen how it happened – It just wouldn’t be proper tribute to Parliament if it weren’t a little bit sloppy, chaotic and crazy up there. As Robert said after the show, “that was perfect, especially in it’s imperfection.” And it was a really special moment for all of us.
Oh, and we also decided not to tell anyone what we were doing and let it be a surprise. It simply said “Turkuaz and Friends – Mystery Album”. We were keeping it under wraps, but needed to try and squeeze in a quick run through.
So we sealed the doors of the theater, for the very brief (10 minute) rehearsal we had the day of the show. Thinking no one could hear what we were doing, we started playing the first song “Bop Gun” with Karl. All of a sudden, we look up and Ivan Neville is running down from the theater entrance towards the stage and ran up to the piano and started playing. He said something like “sorry to crash the party, but I mean… Bop Gun? I just had to get involved”.
Sure enough, Ivan returned for the set and became a last minute special guest. Nikki Glaspie showed up side stage during the set, and started swapping back and forth with Sput on second drum kit. Not to mention – the rest of Ghost Note were all dressed in animal costumes and had smiles on their face that seemed to imply some sort of out of body experience was happening (you can fill in the blanks yourself for what may have been going on there). Everyone played great and after the show, Sly from Ghost Note said that during the set he had experienced “the best moment of his whole life”. I’d say that’s pretty satisfying to hear from an incredible musician like him. It proved to be something that the whole boat seemed quite high off of for the following couple of days. It remains one of our favorite undertakings and sets to this day. And now we’re premiering the audio for the first time here on nugs.net Hope you enjoy (warning – it gets weird!).
I was 15 years old in the summer of 1981. My friend Marc had just turned 16 and obtained his driver’s license. The previous October, my father took Marc and me to the Seattle Center Coliseum to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, and that changed everything.
My parents subscribed to Rolling Stone magazine, which ran a Random Notes item that Springsteen would be doing a return leg of the River tour over the summer. With only that single data point to go on in the pre-Internet days, Marc and I would get up early and drive to the local mall every Sunday in June and July to see if, by chance, a line had formed and Springsteen tickets were going on sale. The Seattle ’80 show had gone up with no prior warning on a Sunday morning. We figured, better safe than sorry.
A Seattle ’81 show never materialized, but the story illustrates the heightened levels of anticipation for Springsteen’s summer return. If Marc and I were going to all that trouble in hopes of getting tickets to a Seattle concert that was never even contemplated, imagine what it must have been like in New Jersey when it was announced that Bruce and the E Street Band would christen the newly constructed Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford with a six-show stand to kick off their post-Europe victory lap.
Though only 32 dates in total, the Summer ’81 tour is one of the most celebrated in Springsteen’s long performance history. The epic-length sets of the previous winter had tightened up, giving the shows a sharper focus. The summer run also came after Springsteen’s first extended tour of Europe, an inflection point in his musical development that, with the introduction of three vital new songs to the set, brought with it the first indications of where his music might be going.
East Rutherford 7/9/81 is the final night of the Brendan Byrne run and a moment of culmination for Springsteen and the E Street Band. Their confidence and a new sense of purpose developed on the stages and streets of Europe drives this outstanding performance, and the audience is there to meet them. Even when Bruce assays new songs, the crowd sounds fully on board. Listen to the sympathetic clapping they add to “Follow That Dream”; the live archive version from London a month earlier has no audience participation at all.
The 7/9/81 show wastes no time getting to the meat of the matter, opening with “Thunder Road” into “Prove It All Night” and “The Ties That Bind.” Playing his sixth show in nine nights, Bruce’s voice needs a little warming up at the start, but his passion is already dialed in at 10. By “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” Bruce and the band lock into gold medal form, and the song spotlights Stevie Van Zandt’s critical vocal contributions in this era.
“Follow That Dream” is the first of the new songs, all three of which blur the line between cover song reinterpretations and originals. The Elvis Presley reinvention retains its stark, meditative arrangement debuted in Europe and closes on one of the most disquieting, chilling notes in the Springsteen catalog.
“Follow That Dream” has an especially curious place in the canon in that it feels like an extremely significant song in Bruce’s evolution as a songwriter, despite having never had an official studio release (it was recorded for Born in the U.S.A. in 1983). It’s only been performed 15 times since the Bridge School Benefit in 1986, but it shows up in every decade, as recently as Australia 2017, the last E Street Tour to date. Is there a more meaningful unreleased song?
Carrying on, “Independence Day” revisits Springsteen’s father-son narrative, but this time with a new chapter recognizing the need to say the things that need to be said, now, while there’s still time. The sentiment couldn’t be more timely in the Covid-19 era.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain” has never sounded bigger or bolder than this terrific rendition, and Jon Altschiller’s mix offers incredible instrument separation. The acoustic and electric guitar interplay is marvelous — and listen for the electric to kick in again, quite thrillingly, five seconds into “Two Hearts.” What a great version. The same can be said for “The Promised Land,” as heightened vocal phrasing brings the song to another level.
There’s an intriguing break in the mood as Bruce begins the harmonica intro to “This Land Is Your Land” only to be interrupted by the explosion of a firecracker (heard clearly in the right channel). Condemnation is immediate. “Whoever just threw that firecracker, you can do me a big fucking favor and don’t do it,” he says with total convinction. “Whoever you are, you are no friend of mine. This is a song about that respect; it’s about having respect for yourself, for the land that you live in.” Pure conviction powers Springsteen through the daunting take of “The River” that comes next as he attempts to reset following the firecracker, leading to one of the highlights of the night — if not the whole of the 1981 tour.
Word of this incredible new song “Trapped” had even reached me on the other side of the country (again, likely through Rolling Stone). I had to hear it. Through the magic of mail order, I bought a bootleg LP called Prisoner of Rock and Roll that included “Trapped,” and I was gobsmacked. The simple start, the build, the intensity, the crescendo, then again and AGAIN, with the final release coming as Springsteen shouts “I’M TRAPPED” and the last note sustains. Mesmerizing and unlike any Springsteen song that had come before it.
“Trapped” is a cover (originally recorded by Jimmy Cliff), not an original. Cliff’s lyrics are basically intact, and fundamental melodic elements are there, too. But how Springsteen listened to this and developed the arrangement he performs in New Jersey is the alchemy of a musical genius. Hearing the song in this context—following the firecracker incident, “This Land Is Your Land” and a tentative “The River”—“Trapped” offers unmistakable catharsis.
Set one wraps with a high energy “Out in the Street” and full-tilt “Badlands,” rich with Van Zandt vocal accents, Roy Bittan piano, and plenty of Max Weinberg propulsion.
East Rutherford 7/9/81 is marked by its new songs, but it was also a summer Shore party as the second set makes clear. The festivities begin with “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch),” replete with some interesting lyrical additions where our protagonist is “going downtown, gonna buy a gun.” Love the guitar mix on this one.
From there, bang bang into “Cadillac Ranch,” Bruce’s ultimate party song “Sherry Darling,” and “Hungry Heart” (with the audience taking the first verse capably) before we’re treated to a guest appearance. Gary U.S. Bonds, whose Springsteen-Van Zandt-produced album Dedication was released that April, duets with Bruce on the traditional “Jolé Blon” (which Springsteen introduced to his own sets in the UK), and Bonds takes the lead vocal on his hit single, the Springsteen original “This Little Girl.”
The third and final new song of the show, “Johnny Bye Bye” follows. Bruce offers a eulogistic rumination on Elvis Presley to introduce the song, which, like “Follow That Dream,” draws potency from its spare arrangement. It is a compassionate farewell to The King. Paired together, “Racing in the Street” extends the elegiac sentiment in a resplendent reading led by Bittan on piano.
Time to party. “Ramrod” low rides into an extra playful “Rosalita,” as Clarence Clemons set the scene with the opening lines from Lloyd Price’s “Stagger Lee”: “The night was clear, and the moon was yellow. And the leaves came tumblinggggggggg.” Band intros are on point, accented by tasty Stevie guitar licks throughout and concluding, of course, with The Big Man himself, who Bruce posits could be the next Governor of New Jersey. “Sounds like a good idea. Clarence Clemons Arena, I like that,” he says, referencing the new arena named for Governor Byrne. All of which leads to “Spotlight on the Big Man” and its brief vamp on “Sweet Soul Music.”
For the encore, the most Bruce Springsteen song Bruce didn’t write, “Jersey Girl.” This performance of the Tom Waits classic is the one that would be officially released as the b-side to “Cover Me” three years later, but I don’t recall that mix bringing Van Zandt’s guitar so charmingly to the fore. A superb “Jungleland” accompanies, with sublime soloing from Stevie and Clarence, along with a pacey “Born to Run” with Bruce soaring for “girl I’m just a scared and lonely rider.”
The New Jersey homecoming wraps with an extended “Detroit Medley” which takes several exciting detours as it careens along the turnpike. The first is “I Hear a Train,” then a rare romp through Mitch Ryder’s “Sock It To Me, Baby!” (written by Bob Crewe and Russell Brown), another scoop of Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music,” and finally a generous slice of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” in what might constitute the best “Detroit Medley” ever.
The phrase “giving the people their money’s worth” would be an apt description for the final night at Brendan Byrne Arena 39 years ago. Now, it is time to return the favor. All net proceeds from the sale of the East Rutherford 7/9/81 will be donated to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.
After crossing, un-crossing, and re-crossing the Canadian border a few days earlier, Wilco undertook a week-long stay on the Great White North side of things in early July 2006. This jaunt featured the introduction of two additional songs from the forthcoming “Sky Blue Sky” album (a third song, “Walken,” had already been in the repertoire for over a year), as well as a(nother) new arrangement of Spiders (Kidsmoke).
This particular show from The Playhouse features an excellent recording of the band in typical white-hot mid-tour form. Beginning with what is surely one of their most evocative opening songs, “Hell Is Chrome” forces those who just want to let their rocks roll to sit/stand at rapt attention. Four songs in, we get a first glimpse at “Sky Blue Sky” in the form of “What Light”, featuring some intro and first verse guitar flourishes from Nels Cline that would later be excised from the live arrangement. The biggest highlight comes a few songs later: the first (and one of the few) live performances of the unreleased (until now!) “Let’s Fight”. This rarity was first attempted during the “A Ghost Is Born” sessions, and then re-attempted, but never completed, during the recording of “Sky Blue Sky”. This is followed by the aforementioned “Spiders”, with its new ending whereby the band fades down to the sole sound of Glenn’s bass drum, only to then abruptly silence that and leave the audience to (hopefully) keep time via handclaps. Future versions of this arrangement gave the audience sufficient time and rope to figuratively hang themselves (it’s hard to clap in time at a rock show), but this one keeps things short and crisp before the final instrumental chorus comes crashing through.
Other standouts include a very rocking “A Shot in The Arm” and a beautiful extended (albeit slightly undermixed) solo from Mr. Cline on “Ashes of American Flags”.
From Ben Blackwell, official archivist of The White Stripes
Opening for Sleater-Kinney, the September 2000 performance at the Southgate House would be the first of three Stripes performance at the venue in the span of 8 months. Built in 1812, the Southgate once hosted Abraham Lincoln and was also the birthplace of the inventor of the Tommy Gun.
On this inaugural visit to the club we were told that it was haunted by a female apparition from the 1850s. Waiting in the widow’s peak everyday, she would watch for the riverboat her husband worked on. The Southgate House is situated prominently on bluffs on the Kentucky side so she could easily view its daily arrival and departure. One day, out of nowhere, the ship exploded into flames. Instantly struck with grief that her husband had perished, she hanged herself. In a cruel Shakespearean twist, that proved to be the day her husband had missed the boat, his life spared.
Yeah, if that happened to me I’d be haunting the shit out of that place too. There are other tales of Confederate soldier sightings in the halls, random specters, all-around wholesome fun for the entire family.
The band C.O.C.O. was scheduled to go on first of this evening but got caught up in some Indiana speed ticket drama and would not make it to the club in time to play their set. So the Stripes went on first, something they would only do a handful more times in their career, primarily when the Strokes or Rolling Stones were also on the bill.
Highlights for me in this show include Jack’s delivery in “Cannon” where he stretches the title out and sings it as “cannon-non-non-non-non” in a way I don’t recall him ever doing before or since. And the skeletal “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” just ALMOST where it needs to be, one Bug Muff pedal away from the overdrive the song would need to become a continual set-opener for both the Stripes and his solo career.
After the show, we hung out at the Comet in Cincinnati and then crashed at Patrick Keeler’s house for the evening.
If there was ever a time to appreciate archival live recordings, that time is now.
Many years ago, I heard the brilliantly talented and famously cantankerous guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson posit a provocative position on the subject of live recordings. “Of the many, many performances [I’ve seen] over four decades,” he told an audience at SXSW in Austin, “I have [never] left and felt I wished to have it on tape. There was nothing in my experience of any of [those] events which were other than available to my experience. And if I wasn’t there, I missed it. And if I missed it, photographs, recordings, nothing could bring this back to me.”
Au contraire mon frère.
The core idea Fripp articulates is undeniably true: Nothing can fully replace or replicate being at a concert in person, as it happens. But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Archival live recordings are, as Ma Bell used to say, “the next best thing to being there.” (For those too young to remember, that’s what AT&T was affectionately called when it was a national telecom monopoly.)
As undeniably magical as live concerts can be, they are by nature fleeting, real-time experiences. Yes, they live on in our memories, but what’s the larger cultural value of these unique performances? When the technology was invented in the 1870s to record and preserve audio, after the spoken word, the earliest recordings captured on those cylinders were of musicians performing live. Preserving performances is arguably the fundamental underlying purpose of recording technology.
Hearing a show you attended can stir memories back to life. Amazing as that is, live recordings even allow time travel and can place us at the Tower Theater in 1975, the Roxy in 1978 or Wembley Arena in 1981 when we couldn’t have possibly been there any other way. Is it the same as having had Bruce stand on your cocktail table during the middle of “Spirit in the Night?” No, but close your eyes, let your imagination flow, and it is awfully close.
Gothenburg 7/28/12 allows fans who weren’t there at Ullevi to travel through time and space to hear one of the best nights on the Wrecking Ball tour in a closing run of European concerts that was, to quote Stevie Van Zandt’s predictive tweet before the show, “one for the ages.”
There’s something about rainy shows that brings out the best in Bruce and the band. The show opener, a cover of Creedence’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” is a bellwether for great things to come, with crunchy guitar leading the way. Fan-band bonds are solidified through sparkling takes of “The Ties That Bind” and “Out in the Street” (with extra long intro) before we move to the less-traveled corners of Born in the U.S.A. with an excellent “doubleheader” of “Downbound Train” and “I’m Goin’ Down.” The former extends the guitar-richness of the show’s opening salvo and benefits from the heft of the horn section; the latter restores a bit of often-missing edge to the self-deprecating tale.
The aforementioned guitar tone extends seamlessly into a sharp “My Lucky Day” in one of only four Wrecking Ball tour performances. Special nights are built on special songs, and Gothenburg has particularly juicy ones.
What is it about “Lost in the Flood?” Bruce and the band can let it lie dormant for ages, then nail it as they did in NYC 2000. “Flood” had gone unplayed for three years prior to Gothenburg, wasn’t soundchecked, yet the mighty E Street Band is more than up to the task. “In the key of E minor,” says Bruce, “then we’re gonna hit the big chord.” Do they ever. The big chord that follows Roy’s prelude smashes forth an electrifying version that sounds as vital and fresh as it did four decades prior. Bruce vocals are especially gritty, evidenced by this not-so-subtle lyric change: “Hey man, did you see that? Those poor cats were sure fucked up.” Damn.
The energy generated by “Lost in the Flood” propels the ensuing three-pack from Wrecking Ball (“We Take Care of Our Own,” “Wrecking Ball,” “Death to My Hometown”) plus kindred spirit “My CIty of Ruins.” Pick your cliche—firing on all cylinders, in the zone, killing it—all would apply, and doesn’t the horn section sound fantastic? Despite the stadium scale of the show, Jon Altschiller’s mix is tight and close, with Roy’s piano and Max’s high-hat in particularly sharp focus.
“Frankie.” Merely typing the song title brings a smile. The marvelous, lost-and-found Springsteen original premiered on the Spring 1976 tour, his first new song after the release of Born to Run. It was performed around a dozen times that year and cut for Darkness a year later (despite Bruce’s introduction saying The River). It was recorded again for Born in the U.S.A. in 1982, and that version was eventually released on Tracks in 1998.
The song’s live outings in modern times are equally limited. One-off attempts in 1999 and 2003 showed “Frankie” deceptively tricky to get right; something about the song’s lilting quality and mid-tempo pacing proved elusive. But after working through the arrangement in soundcheck, Bruce unlocks the wondrous heart of “Frankie” and lets it wash over Gothenburg in a spellbinding performance.
The show’s second act begins with slightly off-kilter take of “The River,” though normal service is restored in a crisp “Because the Night” and on through “Lonesome Day,” “Hungry Heart,” “Shackled and Drawn,” and “Waitin’ on a Sunny Day.” We step back into special-show territory with another great pick from Tracks, the rollicking River outtake “Where the Bands Are” dedicated to the fans who had traveled from show to show around Europe. It is the last performance to date of the irresistible track.
Sure, special songs help make special nights, but Gothenburg is more than its rarities. The performance of “Backstreets” shines as a particular standout, taking its time and accented with vocal nuances that don’t occur in every outing. I don’t think Bruce can sing it any better in this century. Boom, “Badlands” kicks in, and the show runs through the end of the main set via “Land of Hope and Dreams” and the band-spotlighting “People Get Ready” outro.
The encore might best be described as one of release. Start with Bruce’s final vocal line in “Thunder Road,” as he wavers for effect on “we’re pulling out of here to wiiiiiiin.” The contrast of “Thunder Road” into “Born in the U.S.A.” is compelling “40 years down the road” with the horns adding anthemic overtones to the song’s conclusion. The energy stays high for “Born to Run,” “Ramrod,” “Dancing in the Dark,” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” before we reach the emotional apex of the night: The return of “Jungleland.”
“Clarence was a special part of Sweden,” Bruce tells the crowd. “So tonight, we haven’t done this one in a long time, and we haven’t practiced it. This is for the Big Man and for you for giving him a home for quite a few years.”
Roy and Soozie kick it off a la Main Point ‘75. The band turns the burners to high. Steve’s guitar solo is on point. As we arrive at The Moment, Bruce’s vocals are passionate, stretching out “Just one look and a whisper, they’re gaw-aw-one” before Jake Clemons hits that transcendent note. Having never listened to fan recordings of the show, I didn’t know what to expect from this resurrection, but Jake, Bruce, and the band really deliver. That first note of the solo might bring a tear to your eye, and when Jake’s spotlight ends, you hear the appreciation and recognition of what just transpired from the audience.
How does one follow up such a moment? The only way Bruce knows how, with “Twist and Shout.” Nothing can follow that, yet even after 12 minutes the audience is still “whoa, whoaing” the melody to “Badlands.” No wonder these Euro 2012 shows were so long: the audiences, Bruce, and the band just didn’t want it to end.
This second volume of our Staff Picks series comes from Stephen Holland on our marketing team. He loves music across a wide spectrum but there is definitely an emphasis on sounds of the southeast and jazzier jams. Click here to listen to Stephen’s Picks in the nugs.net app and read below to learn more about why he loves these tracks. Enjoy!
Railroad Earth: “Panama Red” 11/30/13 – Stroudsburg, PA
I’ve always loved this New Riders of the Purple Sage tune and Railroad Earth has some fun with it here.
The Allman Brothers Band: “Statesboro Blues” 8/12/08 – Bethel, NY
I’m a Georgia boy so a famous blues standard with a Peach State location reference always hits for me. This was a Mountain Jam show with the same band that recently reunited at MSG as The Brothers, absent Gregg and Butch of course.
Goose: “Madhuvan” 3/15/20 – T’s House
A really fresh one here. This was the opening track of a webcast that Goose just did over the weekend with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund in this time of virus-caused live music drought. They lit up someone’s living room on this one.
Jerry Garcia Band: “Mission in the Rain” 6/10/89 – French’s Camp on the Elk River
Recording of an under-appreciated Jerry tune from a small little place up in Northern California.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “Cover Me Up” 10/22/18 – Ryman Auditorium
Jason Isbell has been the most consistent soundtrack of my life the last few years. His writing is a combination of the nostalgia from the south and the current state of the world. This track has a special place in my life for sure.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: “Outfit” 9/14/19 – Capitol Theatre
Doubled up on Jason but it’s my playlist. This one hits big on growing up in the south nostalgia.
Pearl Jam: “Alive” 11/30/93 – Las Vegas, NV
From the earliest Pearl Jam archive show that we have, the band toured on its second album Vs. Unfortunately, we don’t have a video of the Elvis impersonator that sat in with them. We’ll have to just imagine that.
Billy Strings: “Turmoil and Tinfoil” 2/15/20 – Asheville, NC
Billy en fuego on this track. I can’t wait for his tour with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit this summer.
The White Stripes: “Boll Weevil” 7/31/07 – Southaven, MS
The last song of the last White Stripes show, enough said. You can see I like old blues standards.
Tyler Childers: “Lady May” 11/30/18 – Exit In, Nashville, TN
Who doesn’t like a beautiful love song? The lyrics and the lonesome fiddle get me every time.
Tyler Childers: “Country Squire” 11/30/18 – Exit In, Nashville, TN
Another double dose. I needed to highlight some slide guitar on here.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead: “Truckin'” 11/10/18 – The Fox Oakland
A nice stretched out jam of a classic. This was a great show across the Bay at the Fox.
Wilco: “California Stars” 12/3/01 – The Fillmore San Francisco
Iconic song recorded in another round of turbulent times just down the street at The Fillmore. It makes me feel like it’s all going to be ok for about 6 minutes anyway.
Charlie Hunter: “Lively Up Yourself” 9/14/96 – Cincinnati, OH
The horns, guitar, and organ play together like the three best friends that anyone ever had. More of this, please.
Kitchen Dwellers: “New Man” 2/8/20 – Bend, OR
Blisters on some fingers here as they headed into the break. Really been enjoying the Kitchen Dwellers lately.
Guy Clark: “LA Freeway Pack Up All Your Dishes” 11/19/89 – Austin City Limits
A cool one from a trove of Austin City Limits shows that we have. Guy Clark is one of my favorite songwriters.
Lotus: “Disappear in a Blood-Red Sky” 2/15/20 – Frisco, CO
This is a nice recent one from Lotus with some beautiful harmonies in the back. Enjoy!
Ghost Light: “Old Time Religion” 11/22/19 – San Francisco, CA
This was one of my favorite tunes from last year’s show here in the neighborhood at The Independent.
“Three-hour shows! Acoustic sets! Deep cuts! On-stage restaurant gift certificate giveaways! All of these factors made the Spring 2010 “An Evening With” tour one of the most revered among long-time fans. Initially starting with a hefty 33-35 song length, by the time the tour rolled into the central New Jersey town of Montclair, the show had expanded to occasionally hit 38 songs played over 3-plus hours onstage. The sets were so long that, in order to catch their collective breath, the band really did take a few moments mid-show to give away local restaurant gift certificates to a few lucky fans.
But quantity ain’t nothin’ without quality, and these shows have a high quantity of quality (see what we did there?). Perhaps the coolest aspect of these shows is how the performance morphs, via the noise-coda of “Poor Places”, from it’s initial hi-wattage electricity to an intimate mid-show acoustic set…and then back “up” again after “Airline To Heaven’s” crescendo. In addition to its counterbalance of timbre and dynamics, the acoustic set also provided a platform for the performance of rarely-played deep cuts; these Montclair shows include “Someday Some Morning Sometime”, “When You Wake Up Feeling Old”, and the deepest of deep tracks, “More Like The Moon” (featuring a beautiful extended Jeff Tweedy acoustic guitar solo). These shows also include powerful readings of the Big Star songs “In The Street” and “Thank You Friends” as a tribute to the then-recent passing of Wilco hero Alex Chilton.
All in all, the two shows in Montclair showcase a whopping 57 different songs, presenting a near-complete representation of what went down during that “An Evening With” tour.” – Marc Prizer
“Heard Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and Nirvana consecutively on the radio as we entered Seattle city limits. When we got to the club the sound guy was wearing the ‘Fudge Packin’ Nirvana tee I knew I’d see here. Took me awhile to find the Space Needle, but once I did, I knew I was officially in Seattle. While band was sound checking, I explored the city and managed to walk to Sub Pop World HQ and the Croc Club.
The Stripes were okay, Slim Moon was really into it, sold a ton of merch, saw some guy with a bootleg Gories ‘Outta Here’ t-shirt. After the show, Jack got offered to record for Kill Rock Stars and Sub Pop (from Jon Ponemon himself). Leaving the club the van wouldn’t start (for about ten seconds) giving everyone a big scare.”
In terms of The White Stripes first extended tour, Seattle seemed like a gig everyone was looking forward to. Having just turned 18 years old four days prior, I was later told that if I could get into the show in Seattle (with some of the most restrictive 21-and-over bar policies in the country) that I would be able to get in ANYWHERE. No one ever even asked to look at my ID, but the next four times I would find myself at the Crocodile Club I would have to stay in the van because I wasn’t 21 yet. Anyway, the set that night was prime White Stripes 2000 magic, all the best moments from their first two albums delivered with abandon and aplomb. The crowd doesn’t even seem to mind the early abandonment of “Little Bird”, cheering their heads off at its conclusion, nor object when Jack re-inserts the tune into the set not two songs later. While Jack’s voice had been having issues this week (he even begins the show pre-apologizing for it) outside of his changing his register for “Jolene” it sounds vibrant to me. The vitality of youth! I shot video of this gig, but it’s a terrible angle with horrible light. Maybe we’ll share it for the 30th anniversary.
Are you stuck at home for the foreseeable future? As music-lovers, we know how frustrating it is to be separated from the live music experience. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of shows you can enjoy anywhere. Watch these at home and enjoy the full concert experience without risking your health. Throw them on in your living room and grab a front-row seat on your couch, it’s showtime. We also have a full slate of upcoming live webcasts coming from studios and artists’ living rooms; check out the full lineup on nugs.tv!
The 1988 Tunnel of Love Express Tour was marked by material changes to the Springsteen concert baseline in place from 1978-1985. The band changed on-stage positions, setlist warhorses like “Badlands” and “Thunder Road” took a breather, and Bruce drafted in a horn section for the first time since 1977. But the true differentiator separating the ’88 tour from every other is its original narrative arc. A Tunnel performance was a blend of song selections, sequencing, and even on-stage elements that took the audience on a journey through the complex and nuanced world of adulthood and relationships: romantic, fraternal, and familial.
Bruce started Tunnel shows with an invitation along the lines of, “Are you ready to ride?” The visual metaphor on stage was that of an amusement park, implying a night of thrills, chills, and spills. Marketing for the tour intoned “This is not a dark ride,” but as Bruce wrote in “Tunnel of Love,” “the house is haunted and the ride gets rough.” Does it ever.
The Tunnel set, in story and song, explored adult life’s emotional ups and downs and the hard questions that arise when you recognize being in a deep committed relationship requires acknowledging your doubts and vulnerabilities.
At the time, the tour’s setlist rigidity raised eyebrows from longtime fans, though it did loosen up as the tour wore on. But in hindsight, the initial core setlist in the tour’s first several weeks can be seen one of Bruce’s most fully realized artistic visions. Detroit 3/28/88 captures the Tunnel of Love Express Tour in its purest form.
The first set in Detroit borders on perfection, opening with a stellar version of “Tunnel of Love” into “Be True,” the latter released as a live b-side from this performance. The River-era selection serves as a showcase for the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, who was at the top of his game on the tour and blows “Be True” beautifully. Patti Scialfa’s vocals are also on point.
The resurrection of “Adam Raised a Cain” for the first time since the Darkness tour is a long-awaited return, especially with the Tunnel of Love Horns adding heft to the performance and Bruce’s guitar pushed to the fore. In terms of familial relationships, “Adam” is one end of a father-son thread that will come back later in the show with “Walk Like a Man.” But before that there is other provocative ground to cover: introspection (“Two Faces”), companionship (“All That Heaven Will Allow”), oppressive outside forces (“Seeds,” “Roulette”), shelter from those storms (“Cover Me”), self-doubt (“Brilliant Disguise”), a mother’s doubt (“Spare Parts”), and lastly the lingering impact of the Vietnam War (“War,” “Born In the U.S.A.”).
The sequencing of the set is so strong that the transitions between tracks are as memorable as the songs themselves. “Tunnel” gives way to the soaring “Be True.” “Roulette” ends but “Cover Me” rises from the mist in the same key. The haunting keyboards that end “Cover Me” flow straight into “Brilliant Disguise.” Every song change has been thought through and rehearsed, or in some cases newly written. The stirring piano and synthesizer suite that serves as the music bed to the introduction of “Spare Parts” is one of my favorite musical elements of the entire tour, cinematic in scope and poignant in expression. Kudos Mr. Bittan and Mr. Federici.
The set ends with a brilliant “Born in the U.S.A.,” again showing that 1988 versions of the song are the most potent, driven by Bruce’s additional lyrics and storming guitar solo.
“Tougher Than the Rest” opens the second set on a majestic note and reminds us of its place among the very best songs Bruce has ever written. After a foray into longing via “Ain’t Got You” and “She’s the One,” the mood lightens with the playful and self-effacing “You Can’t Look (But You Better Not Touch)” and Gino Washington cover-turned-original (and ’88 tour exclusive) “I’m a Coward.” The pairing of “I’m on Fire” with “One Step Up” is a trip into a particular male psyche, perhaps even the same character at two different stages of life.
“Part Man, Part Monkey” offers a humorous take on animal instincts before the overall narrative arc reaches its dénouement with “Walk Like a Man,” revisiting the father and son from “Adam Raised a Cain.” The resplendently detailed yet understated arrangement is augmented by horns and shows off the band’s vocal chops, too. Bruce’s singing stays true to the original, and there’s a real power in the sincerity of his performance.
The set ends with “Light of Day,” in a less refined, more exploratory form than later versions in ‘88. In fact, rather than bring closure, this “Light of Day” seems more a celebration of uncharted waters — the line that really stands out now, “Don’t ask me what I’m doing buddy, I don’t know,” lands like an overall commentary on the narrative that preceded it.
Standouts in the encore include “Love Me Tender,” which teeters on wedding band territory until you realize that Bruce is singing the hell out of it, and a free-flowing “Detroit Medley,” with Bruce calling out key changes and the band showing off their turn-on-a-dime prowess. The medley features “Sweet Soul Music,” which gives La Bamba & Co. one of the all-time great horn parts to chew on.
For dessert, we’re treated to the second soundcheck bonus track in the live archive series, “Reason to Believe.” While Tunnel of Love setlists had fewer variants than a typical Springsteen tour, 1988 soundchecks were often wide-ranging affairs, loaded with cover songs (some of which eventually found their way into the set) and other material. As cool as those covers could be, “Reason To Believe” is even more compelling.
The song regularly featured on the Born in the U.S.A. tour but was dropped when the show moved to stadiums. Here, Bruce and the band test drive a moody, horn-accented arrangement that is reminiscent of what they would do with Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” two months later at Madison Square Garden. Springsteen’s vocals and harp are resolute, the music swampy, and the end product a beguiling alternative take on one of Springsteen’s best and, as later versions attest most mutable songs.
Highs, lows, pathos, comedy, sin, redemption—the Tunnel of Love Express tour had it all, and on stage in Detroit, Bruce shared as much of himself in these rich, satisfying performances as he would do three decades later on Broadway.