Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Billy Strings, Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros, moe., Bruce Springsteen, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Exclusive to nugs.net, this month’s Third Man Thursday release brings us The White Stripes’ October 14, 2003 performance from Melbourne. From long-time Stripes enthusiast and expert Mike:
Coming on the heels of last month’s premiere of Seven Nation Army at Wolverhampton, this show in Melbourne is the return to the city where the riff was first played, during that infamous soundcheck at the Corner Hotel. This time around, the band are upgraded from a Hotel to a Palace.
This show takes place during the underrated New Zealand-Australia leg of the Elephant tour. The natural point of comparison for this show in Melbourne is the Sydney performance at the Enmore Theatre a few days earlier on 10/10. Whereas that show captured the band out to wow the audience, the energy is at times frantic, with Jack going song to song almost recklessly. If Sydney is the getaway car barreling down the alleyway, crashing through the trashcans, Melbourne is the other side of that coin: the same car, the same driver, but why not take the long way home?
Like Sydney, this show in Melbourne is also a marathon set, clocking in at around 1hr 40min. But whereas Sydney hits most of the familiar numbers from the Elephant live repertoire, with no time to stretch out on any one song too long, this set at Melbourne is less about the inclusion of this song or that song, and more about how the songs themselves get performed just a little bit different. Throughout the set, there are many unique change-ups and extra doses of improvisation here, making for an excellent and relaxed performance
Many of the surprises here are subtle. Listen as Jack moves to the keyboards for the first verse of Dead Leaves, or how I Want To Be the Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart gets an extended outro in place of the final verse. Other surprises are more obvious, such as Death Letter getting stretched out to over 10 minutes, including a unique rapid-fire delivery of Motherless Children and adlibs at the end of the song proclaiming “Your mother was a mother now!”, before wrapping with a quote from Little Bird. Cannon gets a unique whispered vocal delivery for the opening verses, before switching out the John The Revelator section with improvised lines inviting the audience to “come into my home” for “something you ain’t never had before”. The fourth wall gets broken again during Look Me Over Closely, with the line “every girl in this room, I’m singing this one to you” before ending the song with a saturated burst on the guitar. The Hardest Button to Button also gets an extended intro and an adlib about a brain that “felt like Pea-nut butter!”. The same songs already played many times on the tour, done just a little different here.
And then there’s the truly unique moments, which includes the where-the-hell-did-that-come-from performance of Caravan by Duke Ellington. Broken Bricks also gets the first known performance since 2002, with yet more of those whispered vocals and a “slow version” treatment, before setting up an excellent Small Faces and yet another one-time-only cover, this time Love Me by Elvis Presley – complete with adlibbed Buddy Holly style vocals. So yeah, not your typical Elephant show. Other nuggets include Jack playing some lines from the Peter Gunn Theme during Jack the Ripper, the audience singing the verses during I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it quote from Wichita Lineman during Seven Nation Army, before closing out with Boll Weevil to bring this one home.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Billy Strings featuring Derek Trucks, Widespread Panic, Goose,Twiddle and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros featuring Daniel Donato, Railroad Earth, moe., Bruce Springsteen and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Billy Strings, Twiddle, Bruce Springsteen, Widespread Panic, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Bobby Weir featuring Rick Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach from Goose, Railroad Earth, Widespread Panic, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead featuring Bob Weir, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Franklin’s Tower Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros (w/ Rick Mitarotonda & Peter Anspach – Goose)
2/11/23 Port Chester, NY
Exclusive to nugs.net, this month’s Third Man Thursday release brings us The White Stripes April 7, 2003 performance from Wolverhampton. From archivist Ben Blackwell:
Twenty years ago, give or take a couple of weeks, the White Stripes purchased a Random Access Digital Audio Recorder. RADAR for short. It cost $8000. When recently asked about the impetus behind the move, long-time Stripes manager Ian Montone said…
“Many artists I respected – musically and from a business standpoint – always recorded their shows. Frank Zappa specifically. We wanted to implement something similar given we already owned our studio master recordings. So it made sense to record and own everything the band (and Jack) did moving forward. Live shows included. Because every show was different. There was no setlist. Everything was special. We wanted to capture that for posterity’s sake – hence the RADAR.”
In terms of the archival footprint of the White Stripes, the importance of this decision cannot be overstated. Previously, sanctioned live recordings were largely limited to whenever I was there AND the club had a cassette deck wired to the soundboard. With the end result being a static two-channel board recording subject to the whims and preferences of a house sound engineer’s real-time mixing, it left a lot to be desired.
For example…my obligations as a mediocre Detroit college journalism student with a scholarship meant that for the entirety of 2002 (a year the Stripes played nearly 100 shows) I was present for a mere seven performances, two of which were purely coincidental as my band the Dirtbombs were slotted as the warm-up act.
Thus, the number of proprietary live recordings from 2002 in the archive? Shit, barely any. I count one, give or take one.
But come 2003 the White Stripes would have the raw masters of their on-stage inputs digitally preserved. This gave the band the ability, after-the-fact, to have whomever they desired to properly and precisely mix every live show they performed, regardless of whether or not I was there to slide the sound guy a tape that night. This was $8000 well-spent.
Thank god for RADAR.
The April 7th, 2003 gig in Wolverhampton was the first show the White Stripes recorded with this digital system. More importantly, this show is the kick-off to the Elephant world tour, approximately 14 months of whirlwind travel, Whirlwind Heat, sold out shows, not sold out ethics, finger breakings, Grammy takings, global gallivanting and “oh oh oh oh oh ohhhh oh” chanting.
The performance, shockingly, has not been heard in ANY form since the amps powered down that evening two decades ago. I guess no one in Wolverhampton was doing surreptitious audience recordings at the time. Photos of the gig? I found none. Concert poster? I’ve never seen one. Please, prove me wrong. I welcome it. Contemporaneous accounts of the evening? A dumb brief write-up from the NME, one slightly more informative from the Independent and that’s it.
As Jack humbly tells the crowd that Elephant hit number 1 on the charts this day…the gig…you’d think there’d be more proof that it really existed. Things here feel big. They seem important. A chance whiff of greatness. The weight of it all is palpable on the recording.
So the wait to hear this show is most definitely worth it. The first-ever public outing of a clutch of songs off Elephant is the definition of historic.
The fact that Meg switches to her snare hits late on the first verse of “Seven Nation Army”? I LOVE it. Perhaps the only time ever she didn’t 100% nail that song. Jack’s nerves evident on “In The Cold, Cold Night”? Endearing. The premature ending of “The Hardest Button To Button”? A combo of “wow” and “holy shit” said in wonderment.
These are by no means the best versions of ANY of these songs. But they are precious for what they presage…the eventual enshrinement of said tunes in the bombastic canon of a band well on its way to their peak form.
Beyond that…the first time ever covering Public Nuisance’s “Small Faces.” What a moment! And the extra special treat of what we’ve titled here “Talking Pillow By My Side Blues.” An improvised song done in the “talking blues” style pioneered by Chris Bouchillon, appropriated by Woody Guthrie and yet further popularized by Bob Dylan, “Pillow” is one of the more realized extemporaneous songs to emerge from a White Stripes live show of any era. Which is fortunate to have been captured here, as it never shows up again, anywhere, ever.
Thank god for RADAR.
Though I must stress, the method was not perfect. As The White Stripes front of house engineer Matthew Kettle would say “Despite being the best thing we could get at the time, the RADAR was occasionally unreliable, and as we weren’t carrying a sound desk everywhere at that point, not every show was recorded successfully.”
With that in mind, there’s a handful of songs that failed to be recorded in Wolverhampton. “Dead Leaves” and “Black Math” and “I Think I Smell A Rat” seem to be songs from the top of the set lost to the ether on this night. Which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things, considering there’s an entire WEEK where Kettle’s best efforts were thwarted by the finicky digital interface and thus, we’re left only with our imagination and collective recollection trying to discern what happened at half dozen shows in June of 2003.
Otherwise the RADAR material was immediately put to use…the accompanying audio to “Black Math” live vid from the Masonic Temple, the Berlin soundcheck b-side recording of “St. Ides of March” and the promo-only triple LP Live In Las Vegas are all proper public-facing mobilizations of these recordings. Third Man didn’t even attempt to crack these suckers open for another ten years until prepping the Nine Miles From The White City live LP included in Vault Package 16 from 2013.
At that point, upon handing mix engineer Vance Powell the necessary drives, he audibly winced.
“What?” I asked him, perplexed and, let’s face it, ignorant.
“These drives have moving parts. Good luck getting anything off of them,” Vance replied.
To which point I said “You gotta be fucking kidding me.”
“No, I’m not,” he said. “These things are ten years old.”
I learned a very crucial lesson at that moment…that any digital format is only reliable for a couple years before it’s usurped by something more streamlined and less cumbersome – OR – it just stops working. The need to constantly update and re-archive digital files is downright maddening. There is no long-term, futureproof, failsafe digital carrier. Ever. It would be another five years before all drives were properly transferred to a relatively stable LTO format. And even then, not without RADAR drive “G” requiring a $1761.60 “clean room” recovery to save seven shows that would have otherwise just disappeared.
It sounds comical now, but wearing my “businessman” hat I broke out the calculator to amortize the proposal…deciding with an almost embarrassingly “duh” quickness that $251 per show was a reasonable enough fee to reclaim those ephemeral moments. Because there’s spirit in all these recordings. The unforeseen nostalgia of memories yet to be uncovered. Instances where the power of an assemblage of strangers in a room together can divine a psychically shared experience. Time that mattered to someone. Moments could now last forever,
One of those moments, cast off with barely any consideration, a seconds-long thought formulated into action in a more simple manner, appeared when Jack White signed the venue guest book after the show.
“Thanks Civic, you made my day and I shan’t forget it.”
And because of a wise $8000 investment made nearly a generation ago, you won’t either.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Bruce Springsteen’s first tour in six years, Greensky Bluegrass featuring Holly Bowling, Perpetual Groove, Billy Strings, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from Umphrey’s McGee, Greensky Bluegrass featuring Daniel Donato, Railroad Earth, String Cheese Incident, Spafford featuring Aron Magner, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
Every Friday at 5 pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts “The Weekly Live Stash” on nugs.net radio, nugs.net radio – SiriusXM channel 716. Tune in to hear his selections of the best new live music, and check out this week’s playlist below featuring professionally mixed recordings from King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s Red Rocks run, Umphrey’s McGee’s 25th Birthday Bash,Gov’t Mule in Jamaica with special guests, and more. Subscribers can stream this week’s tracks from the #WeeklyLiveStash, only in the mobile app.
This is it, the best of the best, the top shows streamed in 2022! Packed with musical moments, the thirty concerts here truly shine, but this list is just a small sampling of the amazing artists in our catalog, and the standout performances we were blessed to hear this year. Explore the fan favorites below, then dig in and find the show that speaks to you.
The official and professionally-mixed audio from all these concerts are available with a free nugs.net streaming trial. This is also our final 2022 Year In Review post, if you missed any of the others, explore them all including Top Guest Sit-Ins, App Enhancements, Top Cover Songs, and more.
(Statistical clarification for those wondering; the list is in order of most listens in 2022, including shows from 2022 and archival concerts, capped at 1 show per band.)
It’s not just about delivering you the best in class concert audio and video, day in and out we’re striving to bring more value to our subscribers and enhance our product. Over the course of 2022 we made significant advancements to our app, a lot of it you’ve seen, and a lot of work goes on in the backend to enhance your streaming experience. There’s so much to celebrate from 2022’s advancements, but here’s a few that we’re really proud to share in our 2022 Year In Review recap.
P.S. Please make sure your app is updated to the latest version to take full advantage of the features and upgrades below.
Subscriber Exclusive Livestreams Our subscribers gained a big new benefit this year with the launch of Subscriber Exclusive Livestreams! These shows are available to all paid subscribers for no additional cost, and have featured live and archival concerts from Metallica to Billy Strings, Wilco, The Revivalists, Goose, and many more. This feature has fast become a fan favorite, and we’re working hard on adding these shows to our streaming on-demand catalog. Stay tuned, there’s some big announcements in store here for 2023.
CarPlay Enhancements We redesigned the CarPlay interface to be more intuitive, and introduced Recommendations and Continue Listening into your driving experience. We also fixed some key bugs including; resuming songs after an incoming call, fixing broken images, and implementing a more intuitive navigation to find the music you love.
Android Auto For the first time, Android users were able to utilize Android Auto to enhance their listening experience while driving! Android Auto support unlocked a number of key features for users including an intuitive interface for playing as well as browsing the nugs.net catalog directly through your car’s display. Our latest features like Recommendations and Continue Listening were also added for a seamless experience between your app and your vehicle.
Android SD Card Support Even more great news for Android users, 2022 saw the added support of SD cards for offline downloads, allowing users to use the extra space on their SD card to download more shows. This means you are no longer limited by the on-phone storage limit and can download many more shows to listen to when you can’t (or don’t want to) stream them over data.
Recommended Shows (Personalized Recommendations) Finding new music to listen to has never been easier! New in 2022, we’re taking cues from your favorite music and are now introducing artists to explore and shows you’ve never heard before. Check it out in the ‘For You’ section of the app, and find a new or archival concert we think you’ll love!
Continue Listening Pick up where you left off. Now, jumping back into the show you were listening to earlier today (or last week) has never been easier. We’ve saved the show you’ve been listening to, so you can jump back in and listen to that encore.
Player UI Facelift One of the most visible changes to nugs.net in 2022 was the new design of our player screen. We did away with the circular scrub bar and instituted a more user friendly interface for controlling your audio playback.
For You Screen We added a new tab to the nugs.net mobile app in 2022 – the ‘For You’ screen. This new feature allows you to keep up-to-date with your favorite artists and their new content, making sure you never miss a show from artists you follow. Recommended Shows and the Continue Listening feature has been added here too, providing an easy place to discover new music and jump back into shows you’ve started.
Genres One of the biggest additions to the nugs.net website this year has been the Genres tab on the Browse Artists page. You can easily bounce between genres and check out our catalog’s offering, whether it’s Classic Rock, Metal, or Jamgrass, we’ve got you covered.
Recently Added Want to know what the absolutely freshest shows on nugs.net are? Now you can know. Our Recently Added landing page provides an easy to view list of the latest releases on the platform. Whether it’s a show from last night, or a recently unearthed archive from 1988, you can always listen to the latest show ASAP by checking out the Recently Added page.
Self-Service Portal While our customer service team loves helping our subscribers, we know sometimes it’s easier to just do it yourself. That’s why we launched a totally new Self-Service Portal in 2022 for managing your subscription. Easily upgrade to HiFi, manage your payment method, or update your billing address with just a few clicks.
This week’s 2022 retrospective takes us down the rabbit hole of our favorite cover songs from the last year. ‘Subjective’ is a key word here, and to keep it at 25 covers with no more then one per artist, presented some tough decisions. This list is solid though and each song deserving of a listen, so dig and find a new version of your old favorites.
nugs.net subscribers, in the mobile app you can stream all the tracks below in the playlist here. New to nugs.net? The professionally-mixed audio from all these songs/concerts are available to stream with a 7-day free trial.
The (Subjective) Best Covers Of 2022 (in artist alphabetical order):
BILLY STRINGS “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath (w/Widespread Panic’s Duane Trucks) 10/31/2022 – Asheville, NC
BOBBY WEIR & WOLF BROS “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis (First time played) 3/10/2022 – Memphis, TN
In addition to last night’s show, we’re constantly adding to our streaming service iconic concerts throughout time. In this week’s 2022 Year In Review we take a look back at these archives, highlighting our top streamed shows from year’s past, that were added to the nugs.net app in 2022. The professionally-mixed audio from all these concerts are available to stream with a 7-day free trial to nugs.net.
Top Streamed Archives – Added in 2022 (in alphabetical order):
With the first Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concerts in six years now fewer than 50 days away, a return to where their rebirth began feels fitting. East Rutherford, NJ 7/18/99 was only the band’s second US date on the Reunion tour. It followed a 36-show European leg that saw them playing beloved outtakes (finally released on Tracks), exploring the depths of their own catalog, and rounding into form ahead of an audacious 15-night stand at Continental Airlines Arena to kick off the American run.
The 7/18/99 recording, newly mixed from multitrack masters by Jon Altschiller, bears a strong sense of purpose and urgency for reconnection. How thrilling it must have been to not only hear “I Wanna Be With You” for the first time, but to take Bruce’s title statement literally as he calls in the band members one by one in the song’s intro. We want to be with you.
As commonplace as “Prove It All Night” might feel in hindsight, longtime fans hadn’t heard it played with the E Street Band in 14 years, and surely many others in attendance never had. These early Reunion shows were marked by bang-bang pacing at the top as the first two songs roll right into “Two Hearts.” Nils Lofgren may take the solo in “Prove It,” but Stevie Van Zandt’s return to the band is undeniable in his call-and-response backing vocals, which extend into “Two Hearts.”
“Trapped” was a standout when the band christened this building back in 1981; in 1999, Patti Scialfa’s vocals lift the chorus higher while modern keyboard textures from Roy Bittan and Danny Federici give “Trapped” a subtle recharge. “Darlington County” teases the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” for several bars before the rowdy road trip begins, giving Clarence Clemons his fifth fine showcase of the night already.
Following that crowd-pleaser, three radical rearrangements show the Reunion tour isn’t here just to play the past by rote. The country arrangement of “Factory” shifts the tone of the song entirely, removing the drudgery-implying repetitive thump of percussion to yield something more contemplative about the meaning of “the working life.” Lofgren’s work in particular shines.
Bittan and Federici similarly recast the tone of “The River” with a long introduction behind Bruce’s mournful harmonica. The spare reading, accented by Danny’s accordion and Lofgren’s pedal steel, bears some influence from Bruce’s recordings for and around The Ghost of Tom Joad. Not every fan liked the rearrangement, but there’s no denying its disquieting impact and the bold choice to reinterpret a classic.
The full-band “Youngstown” might be the most successful of the three. With a trio of players on stage, the Reunion tour had a fatter, richer, and more forward guitar sound than the 1984-85 or 1988 tours. “Youngstown” makes the case that the E Street Band can be a full-throttled rock band whenever they like, and “Murder Incorporated” reinforces the point, riding Max Weinberg’s big beat in a sharp, stunning performance.
One has to admire Bruce’s sequencing as “Badlands” arrives to take us over the top and end a nearly flawless first half of the show. The de facto second set begins with the joyous invitation of a zippy “Out in the Street” in another appealing reading that the audience eats up.
After barely addressing the crowd to this point, Bruce takes to the E Street pulpit during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” which features forays into “Red Headed Woman” and Patti’s own “Rumble Doll,” plus a nod to the great Curtis Mayfield with snippets of “It’s All Right” and “Move On Up.” A reverent “Loose End” follows, and again one has to readjust one’s mindset to remember the years when it was unimaginable “Loose End” would ever be released let alone played in concert.
The summer setting brings “Sherry Darling,” led by the Clemons’ horn, and Brendan Byrne ‘81 vibes abound. “Working on the Highway” makes a light-hearted companion before Bruce shifts gears down again with a solemn reading of “The Ghost of Tom Joad” that starts acoustic before the band adds gentle accent colors.
The full sense of return simmering all night is sealed by the first few notes of “Jungleland.” As great as the show has been to this point, the magisterial appearance of the Born to Run epic seals the deal between Bruce, the band, and the fans. Clarence Clemons meets the moment and plays his saxophone solo with complete confidence. They. Are. Back.
The set ends with a lively, guitar-drenched “Light of Day” and more snippets including “I Need a Train,” “I’ve Been Everywhere,” and a delicious snatch of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn Theme” (Brucebase, how did you miss that one?). While “Light of Day” only served two tours of duty (1988 and 1999-2000) as an E Street set-closer, it did so with distinction, wrapping the set with momentum.
The encore opens with Springsteen in the confession booth, revealing secrets great, small, and embarrassing with admirable candor in “Freehold.” The song first appeared at Bruce’s solo acoustic show at his old high school in 1996 and its inclusion the first six nights of the 1999 NJ stand seems to suggest that as much as Bruce is back home as a local hero, he’s equal parts humble local man.
“Stand On It” is the final Tracks song in the set and features some dazzling displays from Bittan and Clemons in one of only 21 performances ever. From there, “Hungry Heart,” “Bobby Jean,” “Born to Run,” and “Thunder Road” give the people what they want, each sounding fresh after a long layoff.
On an evening firmly focused on the recommitment of Bruce and the band, “If I Should Fall Behind” delivers the sentiment with spotlight-sharing vocal turns from Nils, Patti, Clarence, and Steve on a song recorded and released while the band was on hiatus.
The night closes with a dedication to the Kennedy family–following the passing of John F. Kennedy Jr. two days prior–as the intro to “Land of Hope and Dreams.” Bruce’s modern day “People Get Ready” (so much so that he shares the writing credit with Curtis Mayfield) captures the American spirit as much as any song in the canon.
The 7/18/99 recording is the earliest Reunion show yet to appear in the Live Archive series, and it shows just how ready they were to begin what we now see as their modern era, one that will enjoy a new chapter come February when Bruce and the band will roar back to life.
Having a special guest sit-in at a show can make for a unique and one-of-a-kind experience, and some of the most memorable concert moments. In this week’s 2022 Year In Review we take a look back at some of our favorite guest appearances of the year, and shows that are destined to be legendary concerts. The list of honorable mentions is exhaustive, and it’s challenging to pick just one from each band to highlight, but hopefully you find a show here to stream again or discover for the first time. Dig in and chime in, we’d love to hear your favorite guest sit-ins of the year.
Our Favorite Guest Appearances Of 2022 (in order of show date):
MY MORNING JACKET: 3/2/2022 – Riviera Cancun, MX
Featuring Phish’s Trey Anastasio for the three-song encore at their annual One Big Holiday festival. The following nights featured Brittany Howard and more.
This show was nothing but guests, a night of funky Grateful Dead tunes featuring Steve Kimock, John Medeski, Al Schnier, John Kimock, George Porter Jr., Reed Mathis, plus very special guest Duane Betts.
PIGEONS PLAYING PING PONG: 5/21/2022 – Thornville, OH
Billed as ‘The Domefest All-Stars’, the show featured PPPP with guests Peter Anspach of Goose, Jake Brownstein of Eggy, plus members of Funk You and more. Peter also joined the Pigeon’s earlier set at the fest.
In the band’s debut at Radio City Music Hall, the show started with an all acoustic set followed by a second set and encore with surprise guest appearances by Father John Misty and Phish’s Trey Anastasio. Later in the year, we’d get ‘TABoose’ tour and tons of top-notch Trey sit-ins, but this is where it started.
Hard to pass shows with Mike Campbell and John Popper as our favorite, but this concert with guests Oteil Burbridge and Tom Guarna on ABB’s “Dreams” and Oteil with Eric Krasno on the Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree” really shines.
In the week’s ahead we’ll be taking retrospective trip through the year of live music, including best cover songs, favorite guest sit-ins, and more. This week, we take a look back at our new-to-streaming artist in 2022, from icons of classic rock to new bands exploding upon the scene, we’ve added nearly 30 artists this year and we’re not done yet! Explore the catalogs below, then delve in to their official concert audio with a nugs.net free trial.
NEW STREAMING ARTISTS ADDED IN 2022…
Apollo Suns (19 shows): Jazz, funk, and psychedelic grooves.
Bruce Springsteen (200+ shows): Iconic singer-songwriter, streaming exclusively on nugs.net and for the first time ever.
CBDB (4 shows): Prog rock, jamband, and “joy funk”.
We’re happy as all get-out to announce that twenty legendary live-concert and live-radio recordings from the country music genre are now available for streaming on nugs.net. We already have a robust bluegrass catalog and a diverse representation of country shows from the likes of Johnny Cash, Tyler Childers, Waylon Jennings, even new-age ‘Cosmic Country‘, and now our subscribers can stream some of the most notable live performances from some of the biggest names in the history of country music.
Recorded in a series of California honky-tonks during the middle of 1982, this live-album release features covers of classic tracks from Gram Parsons to Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Buck Owens, Conway Twitty, and more.
Recorded in August 2003, in this Soundstage concert, he wows the audience performing favorites such as “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” “Great Day to Be Alive,” and “Anymore.” Soundstage was an American live concert television series produced by WTTW Chicago.
We are excited to announce new improvements to the nugs.net listening experience while driving for both Android and Apple users.
For the first time Android users are able to utilize Android Auto to enhance their listening experience while driving. With the latest version of the nugs.net Android app you can listen to your favorite shows on-the-go. Android auto support unlocks a number of key features for users including:
An intuitive interface for playing, pausing, skipping tracks, as well as browsing the nugs.net catalog directly through your car’s display
Picking up where you left off in a song after taking a call, or getting back into your car
Experience our latest features like Recommendations and Continue Listening for a seamless experience between your app, desktop player and your vehicle
Major updates are here for Apple CarPlay users. We’ve redesigned the navigation to be more intuitive, and introduced Recommendations and Continue Listening into your driving experience. We’ve also fixed some key bugs including:
Songs will now resume from where they left off after an incoming call
Broken images and empty screens have been fixed
More intuitive navigation to find the music you love
Not a nugs.net subscriber? Sign up today for access to unlimited streaming and a 7-day free trial.
If there’s any period in modern Springsteen history that continues to grow in admiration it is the 2007-2008 Magic era.
There was always something appealing in the idea that Bruce and the E Street Band weren’t reuniting after an extended separation (only a few years since Vote For Change) nor called to service by historic events, but simply touring behind an excellent new album. Better still, the Magic tour created the setlist model we’ve had ever since.
The 1999-2000 Reunion tour marked the long-awaited return of the blood brothers and was tied to the release of the vaults-clearing Tracks, which liberated vital studio outtakes we only dreamed would someday be released. Several Tracks songs featured in the Reunion shows, and the exercise of producing the box and preparing for his first ESB tour in 11 years had Bruce looking at his catalog from a fresh vantage point. The result: setlist surprises on a regular basis—you didn’t know what Tracks song or vintage cut might turn up on a given night, putting long-lost classics like “New York City Serenade,” “Blinded By the Light” and “Lost in the Flood” back in play.
In addition to featuring 12 strong new songs from the 2007 album, the Magic tour suggested a similar reflection had taken place, but this time on the performance history of Bruce’s songs, with an eye toward the underplayed. Spurred by fan-sign requests, which took hold in 2007-2008, a trove of unusual cover songs appeared, along with choice rarities, upping the setlist wildcard factor practically every night. This awareness of what came before would continue on the Wrecking Ball tour, as requests persisted and got even more specific (e.g. “Prove It All Night ‘78”) in 2012-2013.
Nashville 8/21/08 exemplifies this “embrace the present and tap the past” approach. The concert immediately prior to the towering St. Louis show on 8/23, a previous Live Archive release, Nashville offers convincing performances of contemporary material, career-spanning classics, and special additions with deep roots in Springsteen’s performance past suggested by the fans. This delightful show also bears the unmistakable feeling of Bruce and the band enjoying being back on the job.
In a rare opening slot, “Out in the Street” sets the stage for a communal night between band and fan. The first half of the Nashville set runs strong with modern material (“Radio Nowhere,” “Lonesome Day,” “Youngstown”) and period heavy-hitters (“No Surrender,” “Murder Incorporated”), but things really open up when Bruce begins collecting request signs after “Spirit in the Night.”
“I’m gonna test the band,” he says with a wry smile. “We played this at the Capitol Theatre in 1978.” Credit him for remembering correctly: “Good Rockin’ Tonight” earned 17 airings in its premiere run on the Darkness tour (including the Capitol in Passaic, 9/20/78) and three more on the River tour before going dormant for 28 years. Did they nail the arrangement? Not exactly (though Roy Bittan’s piano playing is extraordinary). Did they tap Darkness tour spirit? Absolutely.
This ragged-but-right “Good Rockin’ Tonight” is an in-the-moment charmer, no more so than when Bruce shouts, “Go back a verse, Dan,” acknowledging crew member Dan Lee, who runs Bruce’s on-stage Teleprompter and helps make lost songs and other requests a welcome reality.
Darkness tour spirit also infuses a sweet “Growin’ Up,” complete with the “selling the pool table to buy the Kent guitar” story. A surprisingly rare “I’m Goin’ Down” follows. It’s the only song from Born in the U.S.A. performed fewer than 100 times, trailing even “Pink Cadillac” (125 to date). This one of three appearances on the Magic tour is lively and terrific.
If that isn’t rare enough for you, how about “Hungry Heart” b-side “Held Up Without a Gun,” played for only the fourth time ever? Bruces seamlessly slips back into the vocal cadence and tone of the original, and the band hits it like an every-nighter.
There’s no time to catch our breath before another River rarity, outtake “Loose End” (changed from “Loose Ends” as of the release of the Ties That Bind box set) in a sharp reading that again taps vintage vibes in a manner that suggests something beyond muscle memory is afoot in Nashville.
The most striking example of this uncanny ability to recall the past comes before “She’s the One.” The song was a staple of Magic tour sets, but on this night, seemingly out of nowhere—especially since he began the song as he did every 2007-2008 version—Bruce breaks into the classic “Mona” intro from the Darkness tour (and once in 1981) and damn if it doesn’t sound just right. Stevie Van Zandt catches on and brings his own vintage licks to the segment.
A few songs later divine inspiration strikes again, and Bruce calls out chord changes—“B” then “E”—to intriguingly append Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line” to the start of “I’m on Fire,” a song that’s all about crossing lines. A brilliant coupling.
The back half of the show is anchored by a trio of recent rockers: “The Rising,” a potent “Last to Die,” and the underrated “Long Walk Home,” the arrangement of which is an exemplar of the modern E Street sound. “Badlands” finishes the main set before an encore that starts on a rousing “Girls in Their Summer Clothes” (it is August, after all).
“Thunder Road” and “Born to Run” follow before the last tour premiere of the night, a cover of The Bobby Fuller Four’s “I Fought the Law,” played for only the fourth time since 1981 and barely aged a day—as is the theme this evening.
For those of us not old enough to see ’70s and ’80s shows in person, the Magic tour provided a time machine to a taste of what a few of those special song performances were like. May those vibes return in 2023.
While his Born to Run book and Springsteen on Broadway performance served as overt autobiographical projects, Bruce Springsteen’s 1996 homecoming shows in Freehold and Asbury Park were equally if not more confessional.
Sprouting from seeds planted at 1990’s Christic Institute benefit concerts (available in the Live Archive series), Bruce’s return-to-the-Shore shows break the fourth wall and at times seek to provoke the audience by intentionally revealing parts of himself that didn’t necessarily comport with the image of rock’s everyman superstar.
Coming home—not just to New Jersey, but the very towns where his music, band, and lifelong friendships were born—is an act of making peace with one’s past. As Springsteen writes in “When You’re Alone,” performed so poignantly here, “I left and swore I’d never look back,” only to be sent “crawling like a baby back home.”
Bruce has been a storyteller since the early days, spinning yarns about Ducky Slattery and the magical meeting of Scooter and the Big Man. But that became part of the mythmaking.
Back in Asbury Park for the first time in decades, he’s in a different sort of dialogue with the audience—not exactly a two-way street (though he does respond to audience shouts on a few occasions), but consciously revealing his truths and gauging response. Case in point: As he makes unambiguously clear introducing “Red Headed Woman,” Springsteen was (and hopefully remains) America’s foremost advocate for cunnilingus.
For all that’s been said over the years about how he became the musician that he is, the story he tells ahead of “Across the Border,” drawing a parallel between the pop music his mother played on the radio and The Grapes of Wrath might be the most instructive. He eloquently connects the roots of the two key themes of his formative work: the yearning to escape one’s circumstances and the desire for human connection.
Both themes are in full display on Asbury Park 11/26/96, the final night of four Shore shows and the closing night in AP. The November 24 performance was previously released in the Live Archive series, where Bruce was joined by Danny Federici, Patti Scialfa, and Soozie Tyrell. That trio returns for the last show, joined by several figures from those seminal Shore years including Stevie Van Zandt, Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, Richard Blackwell (who played percussion on The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle), and the late, great Big Danny Gallagher, on whose living room floor Bruce wrote “a lot of my early work.”
The show immediately acknowledges those early days as Springsteen is accompanied by Federici on “For You” to open, followed by a solo turn of “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the CIty.” There’s nothing retro about the performances, which sound vibrant and in the moment, with Bruce in fine, strong voice. For “Saint,” his strumming adopts the low acoustic sound from the Joad tour arrangement of “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” which propels the song to the rafters. On that point, the same can be said of the entire performance, which practically bursts from the stage to the audience. In contrast, Springsteen’s next solo outing, the 2005 tour in support of Devils & Dust, can be categorized as more of a lean-in experience, brilliant as it was.
“Atlantic City” gets a passionate if traditional reading. Curious that the song wasn’t part of the original Joad setlists, but it became a staple starting with the European shows in the spring of 1996. The brilliant “Straight Time” was part of the Joad tour core, but curiously it has been played only once since, in Copenhagen 2005.
Scialfa and Tyrell first take the stage for “Tougher Than The Rest,” played only in Freehold and Asbury in a rare acoustic arrangement. “Darkness” is assayed at a blistering pace, and the urgency felt in so many of the night’s performances rings true as Bruce sings, “lives on the line where dreams are found and lost.”
There’s a washboard quality in the rhythmic strumming intro to “Johnny 99” as Bruce blasts harmonica to what sounds like the riff of U2’s “Desire.” It’s another pacey rendition, and Bruce’s heighted Joad voice shifts wildly from high to low, hard to soft, demanding the audience engage.
Next, the first of those old friends, as Richard Blackwell takes the stage on congas for a one-off performance of “All That Heaven Will Allow,” dormant since the last night of the Tunnel tour. Bruce brings out Blackwell with a story about randomly running into him in the woods a long way from the Shore—near the Esalen Institute in Big Sur—after driving cross-country in late 1969. Blackwell is then joined by Tyrell on violin for the comforting return of “All That Heaven Will Allow.”
With Federici rejoining on accordion, Tyrell and Springsteen revisit “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” and again Springsteen’s singing is spirited and invigorating, even contemporizing the Wild & Innocent classic.
The aforementioned cunnilingus advocacy precedes “Red Headed Woman,” though perhaps stumping would be a better word choice. Bruce makes a rare foray into political impressions, doing his take on Senator Bob Dole by way of positing the theory that Dole could have won the 1996 Presidential election if only he’d said, “This is Bob Dole. Bob Dole stands for a strong America; prosperity in every home. Bob Dole stands for cunnilingus.”
“Two Hearts” arrives just in time to turn off the steam, as Patti and Soozie join for this calmer expression of love, teeing up one of the night’s true highlights. “When You’re Alone” was released on Tunnel of Love in 1987, but never appeared in a Tunnel of Love Express Tour set. Springsteen finally debuted the song live at the 1993 tour’s Count Basie Theatre warm-up before its more formal resurrection for these 1996 Shore shows, tour-premiering in Freehold.
Why these shows? Bruce gives “When You’re Alone” no meaningful introduction, but the second-verse lyrics are highly apropos of the occasion. In this stripped-down arrangement, Bruce carries a lot of the original melody in his vocals, enhanced by Patti’s rich harmonies, and the result is special. One of only 12 performances ever, this is the last “When You’re Alone” until 2005.
Former single-mates “Shut Out the Light” and “Born in the U.S.A.” are paired masterfully, with the B-side played first, featuring sympathetic support from Danny, Soozie, and especially Patti on vocals. The 1984 title track always merits reappreciation in its original acoustic form.
The NJ shows deviated significantly from the baseline Joad set, but the end of the 11/24/96 show reverts to form for “Sinaloa Cowboys,” “The Line” and “Across the Border.” As they were night after night, each of the three is brilliantly realized, and the addition of “Racing In the Street” between the final two is both a fascinating and fitting addition. Bruce reads “Racing” not unlike a Joad song (that influence can be felt on some of the 1973 songs as well), and the shifted telling makes for an engrossing rendition.
To the encore, and wonderful moments of Bruce seeing and celebrating the local friends who helped get him there. It starts with Stevie Van Zandt, who joins all prior guests and shares lead vocals with Bruce on his own classic “I Don’t Want to Go Home” in its only tour appearance and a unique acoustic arrangement. “Spirit in the Night” is suddenly an ode to the spirit on this night, with Lopez and Gallagher joining the fray on backing vocals.
A shambolic “Rosalita” ensues, where the spirit of the performance is again what matters most, and a video would do more justice to see the joy on the faces of these reunited Shore brothers (and sisters).
Danny and Bruce handle a joyous “This Hard Land” on their own, but not before reminding the audience that the show is a benefit for the Asbury Park Fire Department and the Women’s Center of Monmouth County. The evening closes with “4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy),” Bruce’s beloved ode to the city, the culture, and the people who brought him to John Hammond’s office and eventually MetLife Stadium.
“I got a chance the other night to just watch my kids running around the theater,” Bruce says in his intro to “Sandy,” “bringing the whole thing sort of full circle.” The same can be said for his own return to Asbury Park in 1996 for one of the most heartwarming shows on the Joad tour.
The Bruce Springsteen Live Archive catalog on nugs.net expands again with the addition of ten more shows from the 2016 River tour. The summer east coast leg included three homecoming dates at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ, plus massive outdoor gigs at Nationals Park in Washington D.C., Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. Bruce and the E Street Band also performed arena shows at United Center in Chicago, Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater in Virginia Beach and Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.
All of these concerts opened with Springsteen’s 1973 magnum opus “New York City Serenade” augmented by a string section, save for Virginia Beach which began with Bruce at the piano playing “For You.” Tom Morello makes a guest appearance at MetLife on August 25, while Rickie Lee Jones does the same on August 30, the third and final night in E. Rutherford in a set that featured “Kitty’s Back,” “Summertime Blues,” “Pretty Flamingo,” “Living Proof” and “Secret Garden.”
The first show in Philadelphia on September 9 offers its own welcome rarities, chief among them “The Fever,” “Thundercrack” and “Streets of Philadelphia.” The tour’s closing night in Foxboro is 33-song keeper, highlighted by six songs from Bruce’s 1973 debut, Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ and all three tracks found on side two of its follow-up, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle.
Bust-outs, covers, costumes, guest sit-ins, tricks and treats…a Halloween show just hits a bit different. Explore some of our favorite 10/31 shows from years past, all available to stream with a nugs.net subscription. There’s a lot more out there so do some discovery, and be sure to check out our upcoming livestream schedule to catch the next Halloween show that’s sure to shake your bones.
First Time Played: Peace Train (Cat Stevens), Rock The Casbah (The Clash), I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag (Country Joe), Rockin’ in The Free World (Neil Young), Revolution (The Beatles) & Take The Power Back (RATM)
After three months off the road due to health issues, Jerry Garcia was welcomed by a crowd of 17,000 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena in Oakland, CA. He greeted the crowd with a heart-felt “How Sweet It Is” as his first song back on stage.
The Wizard of Oz themed three night run concluded with debut covers of the Rolling Stones, The Doors, Elton John, and more. Billy dressed as the Scarecrow, and the band participated in costumes from the film as well.
This was the first show Dead & Company played together after the passing of lyricist Robert Hunter, and the first two sets featured songs that Hunter had co-written. The show began with the four original Grateful Dead members performing an emotional rendition of “Ripple,” one of Hunter’s many masterpieces.
A “Halloween Star Wars rock fest” with the band members dressed as the movie characters and the show was comprised of Star Wars songs, altered themed lyrics and puns on moe. originals, and new, never before played cover songs.
It was a long time coming (to be precise, 29 months since the originally scheduled dates, which were postponed three times due to COVID), but King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard finally made their Red Rocks debut two weeks ago as part of a three-show run featuring “marathon three-hour sets” each night, with no repeated songs. The final performance will take place Nov. 2, and will air with professionally post-mixed audio beginning Nov. 6.
Whether you’re a devoted fan of the prolific Australian sextet or a curious newcomer, the Red Rocks run offers an incredibly potent dose of live Gizzard. Indeed, the band seems to be performing at the peak of its on-stage power, even as it releases three distinct new albums in the month of October (its 21st, 22nd and 23rd since forming in 2010). Below are some highlights from the first two Red Rocks shows, as well as what fans might expect at the finale. In the meantime, be sure to check out nugs.net’s King Gizzard catalog, which includes more than a dozen audio and video releases taped all over the world.
Night one: 10/10/2022
As cloaked in mystique as Gizzard often is, the group defused any artifice between band and audience on opening night by nonchalantly walking onstage to tune and adjust its instruments 10 minutes before showtime. Frontman Stu Mackenzie was wearing a green alligator visor in a nod to the lovable Gizzard mascot, and once the concert began, there was no doubt of its significance for the musicians on stage. “I can’t feel my legs,” keyboardist Ambrose Kenny-Smith shouted. “Holy shit,” guitarist Joey Walker said. “Let’s get fucked up! Have a good time and love each other.”
After two blistering songs from 2019’s thrash-metal extravaganza “Infest the Rat’s Net,” the first set was highlighted by “Magenta Mountain” and its long, tense closing jam with Walker on analog synth, the wobbly “O.N.E.” (with a tease of the dark, heavy boogie “Straws in the Wind,” which appeared later in its complete form) and the penultimate “The River,” its snappy, retro vibe upended by teases of the more sinister “Crumbling Castle” and “Wah Wah.” The set wrapped with the nine-minute-plus “Magma” from Gizzard’s recent album “Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms and Lava,” the product of intensive jam sessions that were then edited together by Mackenzie after the fact.
As a bonus treat for the sold-out crowd of nearly 10,0000, Gizzard premiered the first of two songs on another new album, “Laminated Denim,” over the PA during intermission two days before its proper release. “Laminated Denim” was also available for early sale at the merch stand at both shows, if you were willing to brave the 45-minute line.
Set two roared to life with “Rattlesnake,” one of the best examples of Gizzard’s innate ability to work riffs and grooves into lengthy instrumental explorations (this time with teases of no less than five other songs, including the next three on the set list: “Automation,” “Honey” and “Sleep Drifter”). “Ataraxia” was much faster and precise than its studio version on 2021’s “L.W.,” its chorus hook sticking in the brain like musical toffee.
For a group that most certainly jams but has not made many overt references to scene forefathers like The Grateful Dead, Gizzard submitted to the legends of jam band past on “Evil Death Roll,” its major-key, Dead-style workout tuning directly into the spirit of this legendary venue. The head-bopping continued on the new song “Ice V,” its fizzy, New Orleans swamp funk providing an intriguing transition into three songs from the concept album “Murder of the Universe,” narrated by opening act Leah Senior, who provided the same service on the studio versions.
Walker’s girlfriend later brought out shots for the whole band in honor of Walker’s impending birthday, while Kenny-Smith prowled the stage to sing “The Grim Reaper,” what he described as “some weird ass satanic rap for ya.” The 27-song evening concluded with a final dose of thrash-y rock’n’roll in “Planet B,” which Gizzard finished exactly one minute curfew.
Night two: 10/12/2022
What better way to start the second Red Rocks show than with a 15-minute “The Dripping Tap,” one of Gizzard’s best new extended jams? During a quiet breakdown in the song, Walker was presented with a birthday cake by his girlfriend and manager, remarking, “I was expecting that later in the set!” “Gaia” featured a taut, spacey section reminiscent of Tool, with drummer Michael Cavanagh nodding to that band’s Danny Carey with his creative roto-tom work. Walker positively ripped on “Predator X,” even finger-tapping a la Eddie Van Halen and throwing in one bar of “Perihelion” (which would later open set two).
“Doom City” was futuristic surf rock crossed with Black Sabbath doom, while “K.G.L.W.” was absolutely wicked, a sea of bobbing heads offering their full compliance in the audience. The set wound down was the rarity “Sea of Trees” (played for just the 15th time since 2012), its sleazy groove segueing into the satisfying southern rock of “The Bitter Boogie.”
The party was instantly restarted during set two’s “I’m in Your Mind” / “I’m Not in Your Mind” suite, the guitar riffs of which imagined being chased through a Middle East bazaar. Leah Senior returned to narrate six songs from “Murder of the Universe,” a jaw-dropping display of Gizzard’s instrumental virtuosity and dynamic command.
From there, it was one delight after another — the baby-making soul of “Ambergris,” the slow-cooking “Iron Lung” and its emphatic, Kenny-Smith-belted outtro, “Robot Stop” and “Mr. Beat,” which teased back to “Iron Lung.” The members of Leah Senior’s band snuck onstage to spray Gizzard with silly string and bring the 32-song performance to a close, as the crowd high-fived, hugged and gazed behind it at Red Rocks’ impossibly beautiful natural surroundings.
Knowing that the Red Rocks shows will feature no repeat songs, we can identify some likely suspects for the third gig on Nov. 2. They include favorites such as “Venusian 2,” “Plastic Boogie,” “Self Immolate,” Am I in Heaven,” “Float Along — Fill Your Lungs,” the complete “Crumbling Castle” and “Intrasport,” plus several songs from “Murder of the Universe” that weren’t played this week, “Shanghai” (the lone song in live rotation from the 2021 album “Butterfly 3030”), newer material such as “Sadie Sorceress” and anything from the upcoming album “Changes,” which will be released a few days before Red Rocks night three. One thing’s for sure: King Gizzard always seizes big moments like this, making Nov. 2 a show certainly not to be missed.
About the author: Jonathan Cohen is a veteran music journalist, editor and author of the New York Times-bestselling authorized biography of Pearl Jam, “Pearl Jam 20.” He previously served as the music booker for the first six years of Jimmy Fallon’s NBC late night show.
Get your pass to watch all three nights at Red Rocks, the first two are still available on-demand.
Red Bank is the fifth and final drop of Bruce Springsteen Live Archive catalog recordings on nugs.net, completing the addition of nearly 200 shows circa 1975-2017 to the streaming service.
The 44 show Red Bank drop begins with five from Bruce’s beloved 1988 Tunnel of Love Express Tour with the E Street Band, including the US leg closer at Madison Square Garden on May 23 (which featured a rare cover of Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops”) and Stockholm, July 3, originally broadcast live across the US on Fourth of July weekend 1988.
Next, two of the most extraordinary performances of Springsteen’s career, the November 16-17, 1990 acoustic performances to benefit the Christic Institute, held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Sharing a bill with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, Bruce performed his first solo shows in 16 years, debuting six new songs in the process, including the definitive reading of “Real World.” He also rearranged catalog classics to deliver riveting versions of “Darkness on the Edge of Town” on 12-string acoustic and “Tougher Than the Rest” on piano. These are truly essential recordings.
Most of the new songs debuted at the Shrine were later released on the companion albums Human Touch and Lucky Town in 1992. Springsteen assembled a new band for that tour, four shows from which are included in Red Bank: Meadowlands Arena, July 25, 1992; Boston Garden, December 13; Berlin’s Waldbühne, May 13, 1993; and the nearly four-hour, penultimate tour performance back at Meadowlands Arena on June 24 with guest appearances by Little Steven, Joe Ely, Southside Johnny, Max Weinberg, Clarence Clemons, Soozie Tyrell and the Miami Horns.
Five years after the Christic Shows, Springsteen mounted his first solo outing in support of The Ghost of Tom Joad, represented here by five concerts spanning the tour’s earliest days (a December 9 set at the Tower Theater, Upper Darby, PA, where he last performed in 1975) through the 1997 European victory lap (Palais des Congrès Acropolis, Nice, France on May 18). Also featured are special homecoming gigs at Bruce’s primary school, St. Rose of Lima in Freehold, NJ, November 8, 1996, and the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park sixteen days later on November 24.
Last but not least, the 28-show European leg of 2016’s River tour rounds out the Red Bank drop. These performances include return visits to two of Springsteen’s favorite continental venues: Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg, Sweden, June 25 and 27, along with San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy, July 3 and 5.
In high school, I got the chance to serve as a page in the Washington State Senate, a gig that allowed me to not only miss a week of school fully excused but get paid $150 for doing so. When I cashed that check, I knew exactly what I would do with the money.
A small record store had opened up across the street from Stewart Junior High, and on my first visit I saw an unusual record locked up in a glass case. It was Bruce Springsteen Piece de Resistance, credited as a September 1978 live recording from Passaic, New Jersey. While it was a three-LP box set, $35 still seemed like a lot of money to me at the time — that is, until my Senate-page windfall.
I didn’t know enough about Springsteen collecting to realize Piece de Resistance was sourced from a radio broadcast, but I did recognize it was a bootleg. My dad was a big record collector, and though his rock interests were limited to Bob Dylan and The Beatles, he did own a couple of boots. I told him about the store and the $35 Springsteen triple, to which he replied, “Bootlegs sound crappy.”
Ignoring his advice, I went out the next day and bought Piece de Resistance. I can still remember my trepidation as I dropped the needle on the LP hoping it didn’t sound too crappy.
From that point forward, finding and listening to Springsteen live recordings became a lifelong passion, with the Darkness tour the sentimental sweet spot of my quest. I’ve surely listened to the five 1978 radio broadcasts (thankfully all now available in the Live Archive series) several hundred times; the best soundboards and audience tapes nearly as often. Mediocre recordings, sure, plenty of those as well to catch rare songs. But I never listened to Atlanta, October 1, 1978, the provisional final show of the Darkness tour.
Springsteen’s legendary 1978 trek opened in Buffalo on May 23 and ran for 86 shows through what was to be the final stop, back-to-back concerts at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. Though Springsteen would return to the road in exactly one month, at the time, night two at the Fox was meant to be the tour finale. Soon thereafter it was decided Bruce should make “one final push,” as Jon Landau’s letter to Columbia Records put it, “concentrating on those markets where we have created very real excitement, and where, with one more concert coupled with imaginative promotion, we can finish the job.”
Back to Atlanta. The first night on September 30 is the fourth of the aforementioned radio broadcasts, and as many long speculated, the Record Plant Mobile Truck remained on site to preserve the second show on 24-track, 2-inch analog tape.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band took the Fox stage that Sunday night believing it to be their last gig and gave a performance fitting of the occasion. The 10/1/78 set is like a supercut of special inclusions familiar from the Roxy, the Passaic stand, and early tour sets combined with ATL specials to yield a tremendous, peak ‘78 recording new to (almost) all of us.
“This is the last night of our tour, tonight,” Bruce says at the top, “our 86th show. So one more time for the last time.” What could be a more fitting opener than a reverent cover of the Rolling Stones’ “The Last Time,” with Stevie Van Zandt as Keith Richards on background vocals to Bruce’s Mick Jagger lead. After its premiere in Atlanta, Bruce reprised “The Last Time” for what ultimately proved to be the true final show of the Darkness tour, Richfield, OH, January 1, 1979.
It’s a joyous start to a stonking first set as Bruce sings in his special-show, heightened-vocal range, and the E Streeters score perfect 10s from the judges. A crackling “Badlands”and lusty “Spirit in the Night” serve as the preamble before Springsteen says, “Tonight our story begins in the Darkness on the Edge of Town.” It’s a tremendous take, with every bar from “Tonight I’ll be on that hill” to the end exemplary of Bruce and the band’s commitment.
The vocal showcase continues with “Heartbreak Hotel” and Bruce in full Elvis mode. In this slower arrangement (compared to The Roxy), one can feel emotional resonance when he sings to “all the broken hearts in the crowd,” as he says in his introduction, from “way down at the end of lonely street.” That lyric never jumped out to me before, but it is clearly a place Springsteen knows all too well and a perspective from which some of his greatest work originated.
“Factory,” a lively “Promised Land” (with some fresh details in the bridge and a great closing vocal), and a guttural, 11-minute-plus “Prove It All Night” extend the winning streak before the return of “It’s My Life.”
The Animals’ classic was a staple of 1976-77 setlists, presented as an epic showpiece tied to stories about Bruce’s relationship with his father. Performed on those tours, the song was a defiant statement of independence to come. In its short, seven-show reprise on the Darkness tour, the tone shifts to reflect a protagonist no longer aspiring to but living his pledge. The Atlanta performance is the final one (to date), perhaps because Bruce outgrew it. Fun fact: “It’s My Life” premiered at C.W. Post College on December 12, 1975, meaning the first and last performances of this classic cover are now included in the Live Archive series.
A distinct Roy Bittan piano introduction comes ahead of “Thunder Road,” the musical bed for Bruce to recall meeting a kid backstage the night before who told him he had formed his own band. “It meant a lot to me,” Bruce says earnestly. “It reminded me why I started doing all of this stuff in the first place. See you out on ‘Thunder Road’.” It’s a sweet moment that only adds to the uplifting power of this version.
“This is a song we don’t play much at all,” Bruce proclaims before a warmly received and instantly recognized “Meeting Across the River,” played but five times on the Darkness tour and incredibly, one of only 70 known occasions to date, making it one of the rarest in-concert tracks from the classic canon. It leads, as it should, into an immense “Jungleland.” “The latest rage,” “a real death waltz,” “the poets,” the extended, soaring “hoohhhhhhhs”—he crushes them all.
To open the second set, Bruce reaches back to “For You,” an every-nighter early in the tour not played for the better part of a month before or after this appearance. It’s another captivating cut that peaks with the line, “You laugh and cry in a single sound.” He then lets “Fire” “go a little longer” to lighten the mood before turning serious in a stunning sequence of “Candy’s Room,” “Because the Night,” and “Point Blank.”
“Candy’s” has always been a self-contained masterpiece, so distinct in the catalog and explosive in live performance as it is here. For my money, the 1978 versions of “Because the Night’ are THE versions. The guitar work in the intro and the end, coupled with drama the band infuses into the arrangement behind Bruce’s desperate vocals, was never better. While the guitar amps are cooling, Bittan and Danny Federici take over and set the scene for the noir romance of “Point Blank,” another Atlanta performance that rivals the very best.
It’s time to give the band some, and with that “Kitty’s Back” purrs to life on a night packed with firsts, lasts, and infrequents. This would prove to be the final appearance of “Kitty’s Back” with the E Street Band for nearly a quarter-century. After 13 minutes of back-alley majesty, Bruce says those words we all want to hear: “[Let’s] do some more stuff off of Wild & the Innocent.” He goes on to dedicate “Incident on 57th Street” to his lighting designer Marc Brickman. “He’s like a member of the band. There’s nobody better.” “Incident” would also go unplayed for the rest of the tour and, save for its officially released one-off performance at Nassau Coliseum in 1980, wouldn’t appear again on E Street until 1999.
It speaks volumes that Atlanta 2 features “Meeting Across the River” into “Jungleland” AND “Incident on 57th Street” into “Rosalita.” That Double-Double only happened three times (the others being Palladium 9/17/78 and Capitol Theatre 9/21/78), all in the last 15 days of the original Darkness tour routing, a stretch that merits consideration as one of the best in Springsteen’s on-stage history.
“Rosalita” brings the night to crescendo, and the encore-opening trio of “Born to Run,” “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” and “Detroit Medley” is a flawless blast of joy from seven musicians in top form.
Before “Quarter to Three,” Bruce takes a minute to shout out several members of the crew by name, going out of his way to point out what they do so well and thanking them for their hard work. Bruce’s choice of “Quarter” as the presumptive final track of the tour is fitting. It’s a song he passionately loves; one that he knows will get the audience moving (“If you don’t dance to this, slap yourself in the face, you might be dead”); and a vehicle to allow the band to sing in full voice (they effectively take all the vocals from 2:30-3:20) for this raucous, ten-minute rendition. Crew, audience, and band, all given their due.
Eight years into the Live Archive series and 40 since I bought Piece de Resistance on the State of Washington’s dime, the thrill of hearing a vintage live recording in this quality for the first time hasn’t faded. Atlanta 10/1/78 is the great lost show of the Darkness tour.