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.
Next week, thousands will gather in Las Vegas to celebrate three decades of 311. The band will play three shows beginning on March 11th A.K.A 311’s official holiday, 311 DAY. Fans unable to make the trip out to Sin City will be able to participate in the festivities from home. All three shows will be webcast live on nugs.tv in their entirety. The webcasts, offering individual nights or a three-night package, are available for order now. Ahead of next week’s celebrations, we spoke to 311’s Nick Hexum (Vocals, Guitar) about this year’s 311 DAY and more.
nugs: With this being a special 30th-Anniversary celebration, what do fans have in store with these three 311 DAY shows?
Nick Hexum: I think it will be a very emotional experience for us and our fans. Reflecting on what a special community the 311 Nation has become. We will be looking back as well as forward. Being 311 DAY shows, of course, we’ll be digging deep and playing songs from throughout our 30-year career across 2 sets a night, plus we have special production to take the spectacle of this show to another level!
nugs: What is your fondest memory from 30 years of touring?
NH: One special night was when we did a big free show in a park in Omaha back in 2006 and like 40,000 people showed up. It was overwhelming to see the sea of people in our hometown. Meanwhile, every 311 Caribbean Cruise and 311 DAY feel really special. Somehow it just keeps getting better!
nugs: What makes a 311 DAY so special?
NH: It’s like a family reunion. A celebration of the band, the fans and the community we’ve built together. I’ve heard so many cool stories of people who know each other online meeting in person and then becoming great friends. Also, quite a few marriages and babies being conceived! Mostly, it’s time for us to express our gratitude for our incredible fan-base by putting on the very best show we can!
nugs: Do you think this year’s 311 DAY shows will hit the 100 song mark across all three days?
NH: I’m sworn to secrecy.
nugs: What makes doing this in Vegas so special?
I think people leave their troubles behind once they arrive in Vegas. People just automatically unwind there, so it’s perfect for a 311 event. Plus the Park Theater is an amazing high-tech venue to get to play. Let’s rock!
Jeff Milbourn is nugs.net’s Vice President of Technology, resident Widespread Panic apologist, and possibly Goose’s #1 fan. Longtime Widespread Panic fans have probably enjoyed his tapes from ’90s Panic shows. For the first installment of our Staff Picks series, there’s no one better to share their list of favorites from across the years.
This was a top Widespread Panic show when it happened and remains a top show still today. This is WSmfP at their best. Houser screams, Jo Jo is dynamic and omnipresent, Schools thunders and drops bombs, Todd and Sunny crescendo, and JB sings like an angel throughout the entire show.
I Love Mule. I Love dirty NOLA Mule even better. I’ve seen a lot of great NOLA Mule shows over the years but this one is something else. “On Your Way Down” with Jonathon ‘Boogie’ Long and “The Hunter” > “Good Morning Little School Girl” > “The Hunter” with Alvin Youngblood and Smokey Greenwell are required listening.
Before kicking off a ridiculous show which, of all bands, Barenaked Ladies opened, JB growls, “How about a big ole’ hand for Barenaked Ladies . . . Barenaked everything!” Classic JB, classic Panic show at Mud Island.
This is the show that should not have been. As many probably know, The Rolling Stones were supposed to headline Jazzfest. When they canceled, Fleetwood Mac was booked to fill the slot, yet they too canceled (quite fortuitously). Panic stepped in to fill the void. The speculation was that Panic would incorporate at least one song from the Stones. Not so. Instead, they decided to blow out the Fairgrounds on their own terms, with a nod to Dr. John.
This is Panic’s most recent show available on nugs.net. It will be replaced on the list of best shows by the next show the band plays. And that’s the point. You can never beat the anticipation of the “next one.”
By Photographer and Writer Joshua Huver(Must Have Media)
Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA 2/14/20
Regency Ballroom, San Francisco, CA 2/15/20
The Baltimore, MD based funky foursome of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong marked their fifth overall SF Bay Area appearance over Valentine’s Day weekend on February 14 and 15.
The two-night extravaganza was a little different from the typical two-night stand. Instead of setting up shop in one venue overnight, guitarists Greg Ormont and Jeremy Schon, bassist Ben Carrey, and drummer Alex “Gator” Petropulos performed at different venues each night.
In doing so, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong follows a recently growing trend for jam bands visiting the SF Bay where bands will play a smaller, more intimate venue before moving into a larger spot to accommodate more fans. In recent years STS9, The String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey’s McGee have all followed a similar model. For P4, this meant they got cozy on Valentine’s Day at the Great American Music Hall and finished SF at The Regency Ballroom which holds about 1,000 more people only a few blocks away.
These two San Francisco dates fall right in the middle of the band’s 13-date trip West and they have brought Connecticut-based bird band Goose along for support on each bill. Goose deliver hard breaking grooves and patiently spaced, hard-rocking jams underneath a vocal harmony that you just don’t normally hear in the jam band community. The love and camaraderie between bands was full tilt, evidenced by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong giving Goose 60-75 minutes as an opening band each night and opting to only take a single 2 hour set themselves on the 15th.
But on Valentine’s Day P4 delivered a rowdy two-set show with on-theme covers and unrelentingly high energy all night long for their debut at the historic San Francisco venue. They opened with “Walk Outside”, from 2016’s Pleasure, a song that had been cut from the encore of the previous night in Santa Cruz. That was followed by two tracks that appear on their most recently released record, Presto: “Avalanche”, which delivered a mountain of funk for the audience to dance their way out ofand “Fortress”.
From 2017’s Pizazz the band delivered a major “Porcupine” sandwich featured a transition into “Penguins” and a cover of the Deee-Lite track “Groove is in the Heart” mashed into it before wrapping it back up with the end of “Porcupine”. Playing into the maritime relationship of the Bay Area, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong took a “Water” break before finishing the set with an ode to the Greek water god, “Poseidon”. Ormont and the band had one more Ace up their sleeves, dealing out a totally unexpected cover of “Daddy Wasn’t There” from the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember.
“Henrietta” gave the second set a solid standalone start before Gator took the spotlight ahead of “Bad For You”. Carrey’s thunderous slap-pluck bass technique rolls in slowly, and before long the song is off. Definitely don’t skip ahead and wait out the segue into “Live It Up” – it’s worth it.
They followed immediately with a second pair of back-to-back tracks. “Kiwi”, another carryover that was nixed from the night before in Santa Cruz came third in the set and spilled into the psychedelic party vibes of “Yo Soy Fiesta”.
At the midway point of the second set, the lights dropped onto Carrey for a bass solo that signaled the beginning of what may be the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong brand-equivalent of Help! > Slip > Franklin’s, or, “Spacejam” > “The Hop” > “F.U.”. If you like getting lost in the signature screaming leads of Schon and some intense disco beats, strap yourself in.
One of their earliest tracks and only from their 2010 debut album Funk E P, “Landing” turned the funk up to 11 and into a monster jam that melted into the Doobie Brothers’ classic “Long Train Running” to close the set. For the encore, they went for a single standalone take on “Ocean Flows”.
For the Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s return to The Regency, it was obvious that they felt comfortable and at home. What was supposed to be another two-set show as fans of the band and other jam bands are accustomed to and expect turned into a single mega long set with no break. The energy that reciprocates between P4 and their fans gets palpable, and they certainly know how to read the room.
Saturday’s show opened with a pair of standalone songs beginning with High As Five”, the third and most recent single from the 2020 release Presto. That was followed by the Pleasure track “Bad For You”.
Pizazz’s “Something For Ya” kicked off a massive head-bobbing dance party that accelerated through “Skipjack”, the final song off of Presto.
The first cover of the final night saw the band revisit their ‘Dead Hot Sgt. Peppers’ themed Halloween weekend from 2018 for one of George Harrison’s most memorable contributions to The Beatles’ catalog, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which elevated into a wild and raucous segue of “Burning Up My Time” > “King Kong”, another single from the new albums.
After a brief rendezvous onstage, the four band members called an audible and opted to continue riding the energy out and skip the set break. They continued with a standalone take on “Too Long” before entering “Whoopie” sandwiched around the Prince classic “1999”.
A pair of tunes from the bands’ sophomore release Psychology followed. Beginning with “Lightning”, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong invited fellow bird band members Rich Mitarotonda and Peter Anspach of Goose to sit in on guitar and keyboards, respectively.
One of the overall highlights of the weekend, it was the first time the bands had crossed paths musically onstage since beginning the tour almost a full week prior. “Lightning” was tailed by the band’s live music meta-opus “Horizon” before finishing the marathon set with “The Liquid” – an appropriate reference to the full melt the audience was in the throes of.
Even after all that, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong mustered up the energy for a one-two encore punch. They started with a new (less than one year and 15 plays since its debut) song called “Distant Times”, followed by the lead single from Presto, “Dawn a New Day.” In full-circle fashion, long time San Francisco flockers will remember that the band debuted “Dawn a New Day” during their second SF stop in October of 2017.
The work of a jam band requires a fierce and loyal following to thrive; by that measure, Twiddle has made it and is here to stay.
Comprising of front-man Mihali Savoulidis (lead guitar, vox), Zdenek Gubb (bass, vox), Ryan Dempsey (keys, vox), and Brook Jordan (percussion, vox), Twiddle enraptured the State Theatre this Saturday, February 15th.
The night kicked off with Wild Adriatic, followed by Strange Machines, creating a recipe sure to thrill during this Valentine’s weekend.
Wild Adriatic got the crowd going with their hard rock sensibilities, showing off their versatility with a unique take on Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”. These guys are absolutely realizing their soul sensibilities, revealing the many facets of their pop-rock roots.
Vermont-based Strange Machines followed. These guys are no strangers to the members of Twiddle, who have shown consistent love for playing with fellow local musicians in a wide variety of shows. Strange Machines features Mike MacDonald (guitar, vox), Craig Holland ( bass, vox), Josh Dobbs (keyboard), & Ryan ‘Claw’ Clausen (drums): an expert choice to prime the crowd with their unique, immersive blend of psychedelic rock. Keep your eyes on them, folks.
Both Dobbs and Clausen have been consistent staples of Burlington’s notorious Dead Set at Nectar’s (Burlington, VT) since its inception seven years ago, filling crowds with their own takes on Dead covers every Tuesday. At the right time, you might even find Mihali and/or Gubb throwing their stylings into the mix. Though perhaps these days, you may be more likely to find the guys throwing down at Ryan Dempsey’s own new club/venue, Orlando’s Bar.
Following an epic finale in which Mihali joined Strange Machines for their electro-jam fan-favorite “Klepto”, the stage went dark to prepare for Twiddle, as the crowd continued to grow and buzz in anticipation.
The lights came up, the band emerged, and the crowd instantly threw all of their considerable energy in as “Nicodemus Portulay” began to take shape.
Electricity was in the air, the crowd was primed, and Dempsey took the lead as Twiddle dove into “Gatsby the Great”. The crowd was fully immersed as the group seamlessly slid into “Zazu’s Flight” before finishing off this take of “Gatsby”.
A true highlight for this Frend was the first set finale, featuring Josh Dobbs stepping in on the keys to fill out the melodious and heartfelt “Out In The Cold”.
The stage was silent once again, as we buzzed with anticipation of what was to come.
They may be a new(er) generation of ‘jam’ band to the fiercely loyal and competitive scene of Burlington, but hot damn, these guys know what they are doing.
“Blunderbuss”, as the title evokes, exploded through the crowd like a starburst, as Dempsey, Gubb, and Jordan rode out a rhythmic sound-storm.
“Jamflowman”, a well-loved Twiddle staple, found Mihali back at the forefront, with beautiful solo riffs, as the crowd enthusiastically joined in to sing along. This crowd favorite transitioned into “Frankenfoote”, as Mihali continued to dominate the stage, before moving “Into the Kitchen”.
Not enough yet? Certainly not. Dempsey threw the crowd straight into the band’s tried and true cover of Mason William’s timeless hit, “Classical Gas”. Set two came to a close to resounding applause and ecstatic cheers.
But being from Vermont, Twiddle was not done yet. Finishing off (so we thought), with a “Syncopated Healing” that is equal parts wildly improvisational and harmonious, the Frends are satisfied.
But then, before we knew it, we were hit with a “Juggernaut”. Minds blown, loves found and reinforced, Twiddle exited the stage.
With the Super Bowl just completed, social media reminded us anew about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s turn in the halftime spotlight back in February 2009. That gig speaks for itself (and will never be confused with Shakira and J-Lo’s even with knee slides), but it also proved to be the catalyst for one of the busiest periods in modern Springsteen history.
With massive TV exposure beckoning, Bruce greenlit a new album and tour mere months beyond the conclusion of his last cycle. After putting out Magic in September 2007 and touring it for the better part of 12 months, Bruce began 2009 with the drop of another studio album, Working on a Dream, followed a week later by the Super Bowl, his most widely viewed performance ever. Barely catching their breath, Springsteen and the band kicked off the WOAD tour on April 1, which would run through November, albeit with new wrinkles.
Nassau Coliseum 5/4/09 presents the first opportunity in the archive series to revisit the WOAD tour in its purest form, the first leg, before the full-album shows of the fall and on a night when Max Weinberg played drums the entire performance.
Max’s son Jay had been drafted to take his sticks while the Mighty One was fulfilling his day job leading the house band for Conan O’Brien’s short-lived stint hosting The Tonight Show. Because he was training his understudy, Max shared the drum stool with Jay for the preceding eight concerts. Max’s full participation at Nassau may be one of the factors energizing this excellent performance which offers a winsome mix of recent material, welcome returns, and a few true surprises.
Let’s get right to the point: The first half of the show is straight fire. There’s a real sense of purpose and focus right out of the gate with a punchy “Badlands” straight into “No Surrender.” Familiar territory, yet sounding mighty fresh indeed, buoyed by the E Street Band in especially fine voice (a good example of details you can only hear in the archive series recordings). Listen for lovely vocals from Soozie and Patti at the top of “No Surrender” and clear evidence of the night’s high spirits: after Bruce sings “Hearts of fire grow cold,” Clarence shouts an affirmative, “YEAH!”
With the show clipping along, Bruce goes all-in for “Outlaw Pete,” and damn if it doesn’t work, as his conviction brings the hokum narrative to life. Springsteen and the band have a rollicking good romp through the mini Western epic, and there’s even a quick nod to “Be True” in the final solo.
A snappy “She’s the One” makes an unusually early and appreciated appearance in the set, continuing the cool E Street vibes. Like “Outlaw Pete,” Bruce digs deep for “Working on a Dream” in what has to be one of the best versions of the song, sounding vital and rich, once again resplendent with background vocals from the band. One of the tour’s hallmarks was Springsteen’s preacher rap in the middle of the title track, and his gospel will surely move you, especially with the The Big Man’s call-and-response intonations so clear and heartfelt.
“Seeds” made a much-appreciated reappearance in 2009, the first E Street Band turn for the song since the Tunnel of Love Express Tour and played in a potent, straightforward arrangement that wraps with inspired guitar soloing. “Johnny 99” marks another WOAD tour return in a full-band version that bears an unmistakable Jerry Lee Lewis flavor. There’s no mistaking the blast the band is having, with Nils taking a sinewy slide guitar solo and Soozie and Patti singing sweet, train whistle “Woo Hoo”s.
Six-string pyrotechnics continue with a showcase for Lofgren on “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” completing the so-called “recession pack” of songs that started with “Seeds.” Thanks to Jon Altschiller’s revealing mix, the song is also a showcase for Roy Bittan, who, unbeknownst to most of us until now, plays a beautiful piano part behind Nils’ soaring solo.
Another distinguishing feature of the WOAD tour was the impact of song-request signs made by the audience. The acknowledgment of these signs organically evolved the show to feature a moment where, during “Raise Your Hand,” Bruce collected signs and decided what requests to grant.
Kismet was definitely in play for the first request granted, the one and to-date only performance of “Expressway to Your Heart,” a minor hit for the Soul Survivors in 1967 written by the legendary Philadelphia songwriting and producing team Gamble & Huff. Anticipating the request, Springsteen and the band rehearsed and soundchecked the song, which helps explain why their one-off version is so bloody good.
Bruce has a rich history of covering minor hits (“Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,” “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Mountain of Love”) and making them his own, and “Expressway to Your Heart” joins the pantheon of the best of them. With its irresistible hook and infectious chorus, the song is an instant E Street classic cover worth the price of admission.
The request section goes from strength to strength as a well-oiled “For You” follows “Expressway,” then the tour premiere of “Rendezvous,” an asset to any set list. This wonderful sequence concludes with a fizzing version of “Night.” What more could you want?
The back nine of Nassau 5/4/09 holds up its end of the bargain, too. Some consider “The Wrestler” to be the signature performance on this leg of the tour, and the case is made strongly tonight. The song’s rustic, fleeting majesty is on full display (does anyone else hear hints of U2’s “Kite”?), with Bruce’s voice rough-edged and full of emotion. In hindsight, the story told by “The Wrestler” echoes some of the sentiment expressed first-person in Bruce’s autobiography and Broadway show.
Beckoning Patti to the mic, Bruce changes the mood with a soaring “Kingdom of Days,” pledging his partnership in full voice in this underappreciated song, rare for celebrating love not at its inception, but further on up the road.
A trio of 2000s songs (“Radio Nowhere,” “Lonesome Day” and “The Rising”) carries us to “Born to Run” and the encore, where Bruce speaks nostalgically about how “these old buildings” — arenas like Nassau Coliseum, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, and the Sports Arena in Los Angeles — are “great concert halls” that are being torn down one by one. Springsteen’s history in Nassau Coliseum alone, site of the epic New Year’s Eve 1980 set among others, is significant and resonates through this final performance in the original arena which has since been renovated.
The encore ends, as it should, in joy mode, with “Dancing in the Dark” (in which Garry Talent keeps the time very tight indeed) and “Rosalita.” And surely any performance of “Jungleland” from Clarence’s final tour should be treasured. But it is the first line of a song unique to the WOAD tour, “Hard Times (Come Again No More),” that lingers: “Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears.”
Following Bruce’s comments about the value of old buildings like Nassau Coliseum and his suggestion to the audience to support Long Island Cares (founded by Harry Chapin), the sentiment of “Hard Times” — making its live archive debut here — is fitting. In early 2020, a time marked by national travails and reminders of how precious and fleeting life can be, the 166-year-old lyric sounds even more like a directive all should heed.
Since emerging in 2011, Turkuaz has lit up stages everywhere from Bonnaroo, Hulaween, Okeechobee and Electric Forest,to Telluride Jazz Fest, Lock’n, Red Rocks, and The Fillmore. Their horn-filled funk incorporates elements of R&B, psychedelic pop, gospel, Afro-pop, New Wave, classic rock, and just about any genre that gets people dancing.
We had a chance to chat with the nonet about the evolution of their music and style over the past nine years.
Q: You guys are entering a new era as a group. Beyond the color scheme change, what evolutions can we expect from Turkuaz in 2020?
A: Well, the color scheme change was inspired by this last EP we released, Kuadrochrome. About 5 years ago, we released its’ predecessor, Stereochrome, which had the band dressing in all black and white. This was followed by 5 years of the “colors” era, as we’re calling it. As much as we and our fans both loved the colors on-stage, 5 years is a lot and we knew it was time for a change. We had a few other songs and arrangements lying around that had yet to be released that fit the vintage style of Stereochrome, and creating a sequel with a four-tone scheme instead of two seemed like a fun and unique opportunity to break out of the rainbow.
As far as what’s to come—we want to keep growing and changing, and being open to whatever that means when inspiration strikes. As mentioned, this last EP leaned more vintage funk/soul, but we’re already working on a ton of new recordings with a wide range of sonic influences. This was more of a palate cleanser or a little pit-stop on our journey. We don’t entirely know where it will lead and that’s part of the fun. The only constant for us at this point will be change. And we look forward to seeing where that takes us in 2020 and beyond.
Q: We’re really excited about the upcoming “Remain in Light” shows with Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew. What is that experience going to be like?
A: We’re also very excited about it. We’ve been playing Talking Heads’ music since the inception of our band, and it’s deeply woven into the fabric of what we do. We worked with Jerry on a couple songs a few years back, and we were very happy when he approached us with the idea of doing this tour. Adrian is also a musical force that we have been a fan of for a long time, and getting to play this music with them is a great honor.
Rather than play the record straight through, we’ve been discussing modeling the show partially on the 1980 Rome show which was on the “Remain in Light” tour. This show featured highlights from the record, as well as the rest of their existing catalogue at the time. If you haven’t seen that show, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s truly inspiring and we’re looking forward to pulling ideas from it. Jerry has also mentioned wanting to do some Turkuaz songs which, of course, we’d love to do, as long as it doesn’t distract too much from the vibe of the show we put together. All in all, we want a high energy and fun show that does justice to the import legacy of that music.
Q: The four shows at the Blue Note in Tokyo are amazing, what was your favorite experience from those shows?
A: It was amazing. Playing the shows as well as meeting and interacting with our fans there were both so great, it’s hard to say what the favorite experience was. Simply exploring Japan was also something none of us had ever done, so the entire trip really feels like one meaningful and unforgettable experience.
The Japanese audience there was very different from our typical American audience. In addition to the Blue Note being a jazz club which naturally is a more calm and reserved environment, public space in Japan is generally treated differently and people are incredibly collected and respectful. This creates a concert environment where the audience is sitting and carefully listening to every note. I don’t think one approach is necessarily better than the other, but this was the first time we had ever played to an audience like this and I think we struck a good balance of adapting while also giving them the Turkuaz experience.
Q: Do you have any personal favorites from the shows currently released on nugs.net?
A: Cleveland is a good one, and Brooklyn Steel is our most recent hometown show, so I’m glad that’s in there. The Nashville show has some of the newer stuff we’ve been doing on the Kuadrochrome tour. Overall, I think they’re all pretty solid which is why they’re up there. With a band this size, and so much happening in the arrangements, we’re just looking to continually feature the audio that came out the best as opposed to posting every show. We’re not a jam band with a 100% different setlist every single night, but every show is different by at least 40-70% night-to-night, and we never repeat the same set. We plan on presenting a “best of” every so often to keep a good flow of shows coming. The best is yet to come and we look forward to adding to the catalogue.
Q: What are you guys looking forward to most in 2020?
A: I’m looking forward to all the collaborations. The “Remain in Light” shows will be amazing, and the Brooklyn Comes Alive set we’re doing in March will also be a blast (with Cory Henry, Nate Werth and Robert “Sput” Searight). We also have a ton of new music in the works which we look forward to sharing with the world. We’re also very happy to be part of the Nugs family! It’s gonna be a good year.
Jam Cruise is always an epic experience. From pool-side acoustic daytime sets to 4 AM super jams in the Jam Room, the boat creates an atmosphere unmatched by any other festival. Truly, nowhere else, can you be sailing the high seas with the certainty that the set you are listening to is a once in a lifetime experience. We asked a multi-year patron about what the vibe of the boat was this year, and she simply answered, “The boat was incredible. If you don’t leave there feeling better and more positive than you didn’t smile at enough strangers.” It’s a beautiful thing, being side by side with colorful costumes and expert musicians, braving a storm in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, all while dancing your way through a cruise ship. Whether you’re trying to recover from your fear of missing out or wishing to relive your best vacation of the year, nugs.net has you covered!
Check out our list of select soundboard audio from Jam Cruise 2020, now available to stream and download below:
Steve Kimock Featuring John Kimock, Robert Walter, Reed Mathis, and George Porter Jr.
Umphrey’s McGee wrapped a weekend in the Midwest with a doubleheader featuring their 10th and 11th performances (excluding two VIP sets) at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI on Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1. Featuring a wealth of old-school rarities, new songs and fan-requested favorites, this most recent Detroit run is required listening. Major highlights across the two nights were the 400th performance of “Phil’s Farm”, a bust of the Radiohead song “Meeting in the Aisle”, “Words” and an impromptu 10-minute take on the SRV classic “Lenny”, as well as a wide variety of jams and impressive segues, made more impressive by a new breath of creativity from lighting director Ben Factor.
Having performed at The Fillmore over the last ten years, it is their first time bringing a two-night run more than two consecutive years. Umphrey’s McGee, or guitarists Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger, keyboardist Joel Cummins, drummer Kris Myers, percussionist Andy Farag and bassist Ryan Stasik skipped the venue in 2016 and 2018 before playing two nights in 2017, 2019 and now 2020.
On Friday night they began with a solid 20 minutes dedicated to two originals, “Maybe Someday” and “Whistle Kids” from their recent release it’s not us and the counterpart, it’s you. “Whistle Kids” was stretched out longer than the two and featured a light stepping blues-funk outro riff before the jam slowed into something more ambient. That low-intensity vibe segued neatly into a Radiohead cover of “Meeting in the Aisle” for the first time in 322 shows and 18th overall.
The second biggest surprise of the set was fan favorite “Words”, appearing on 2006’s Safety in Numbers. After the song, Bayliss admitted that the song was requested for the Detroit show the previous year and made good on his promise to play it, on his terms of course.
The old-school song selection continued with a standalone “Mail Package” to split the set. The 2011 Death By Stereo cut “Miami Virtue” featured some of the sets’ most fun improvisation and shouldn’t be skipped. The final 15 minutes of the first set was a fiery “1348” > “The Fuzz” > “1348” segment. “The Fuzz” is another first set bust-out. An old-school favorite, “The Fuzz” was criminally underplayed for several years but has seen a resurgence since late 2018.
The second set was heavy in the middle of the band’s catalog, opening with “North Route”. A soft and ethereal piano intro from Joel Cummins leads the instrumental, but it finishes as an off-kilter and loaded rock ‘n roll anthem. On Friday, they segued that heavy rock into the dance party that is “Bad Friday”. Both songs are relatively recent and share that they were debuted as the first song after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2016 and 2013, respectively.
After a lengthy jam and a quick reprise, the band rested briefly before introducing another heavy rock and under-played favorite, “Go To Hell”. A 25 minute “Mantis” > “Hajimemashite” > “Mantis” segment was off to an incredible start in the first 10 minutes, but somewhere in the transition between the jam and “Haji”, Stasik’s pedalboard was bombed by an airborne tallboy of Budweiser. The music never stopped, which is a credit to the band’s ability to handle the biggest surprises on the fly, inspiring an ad-libbed first verse of “Haji” by Bayliss.
The intense expression of gratitude that is “Little Gift” from 2014’s Similar Skin followed with an explosive improv section led by Cinninger. The band transitioned into a 13-minute standalone “Hurt Bird Bath” to finish the set.
When Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage, Stasik took the
mic and addressed the win of a shiny new tuner and the fact that instead of playing
what they had planned (which was an unnamed cover) they were going to play
“some Michigan shit”. Mid-sentence, Cinninger jumped on the mic to stop a
second beer from being hurled at the stage. The band moved into a quick and
standard take on the Bob Seger classic “Hollywood Nights” and called it a
On Saturday, spirits were high and positive among the crowd and the band despite some sticky pedals and melted faces. Umphrey’s McGee’s sense of humor was on display immediately, beginning the show with “You Got the Wrong Guy” and taking it into the uptempo rock and roll anthem “Mulche’s Odyssey”. Appearing on 2004’s Anchor Drops, the band moved into the much slower and relaxing vibe of the titular track.
From “breathe easy” to “Make It Right”, they moved on from the thrown beer and into a 14-minute “Kabump” party. An off-beat and jazzy improv section kept the crowd moving and bumping around their neighbors. The second jam in the track will put this track on many favorites lists this year as well as the next track, “Sociable Jimmy”. Cummins and Stasik took turns keeping the improv weird and funky, drawing it out into a psychedelic peak with frenetic fretwork from Cinninger before falling back into the song’s ending.
A stark contrast to the dance frenzy of the last 25 minutes, the band carved out a soft landing for a bust out of “The Pequod” at the request of long-time fan Erik Johnson for his 100th show. After a brief and beautiful respite, the band used the last nine minutes of the set for an upbeat “Day Nurse”. There’s a hot Michael Jackson tease of “Workin’ Day or Night” which could have tricked some fans into thinking a “Night Nurse” was also on her way.
The second set of the night got off to a great start with a 15-minute standalone “Phil’s Farm”. One of the band’s oldest tracks and appearing on their debut album Greatest Hits Vol III, the Detroit “Phil’s” marked the 400th time the band played the song since they debuted it at their very first show 22 years earlier. It is the 10th song in the Umphrey’s McGee catalog to break the 400 mark with “Jajunk”, “Push the Pig” and “Ringo” all less than ten performances away as well.
They followed one of their oldest songs with their newest release, “Suxity”. A reworking of a track called “Fresh Start” from 2007’s The Bottom Half, the song bounces between angsty 90s grunge and uptempo funk. A major uplifting jam bridged the song and a ten-minute take on “Lenny” – which was a total audible and not on the working setlist.
For the next 45 minutes and for the second half of the set, the band only played three songs. Leading with the extended and psychedelic discombobulation into of a standalone “Believe the Lie” and into “Jajunk”, the band was firing on all cylinders. For the final song of the set, “August”, Bayliss shone throughout, taking multiple leads and letting the melody soar.
For the encore, Umphrey’s McGee returned to the stage for the second performance of “Bullshit Anthem” since debuting at the most recent New Year’s Eve run in Denver. A funk-laden cover by Oakland, CA native Xavier Dphrepaulezz, aka Fantastic Negrito, the song featured Myers on lead vocals. They ended the show with the conclusion of “Jajunk”.
This weekly podcast caters to music lovers within the jam band community, featuring artists like Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, The String Cheese Incident, Widespread Panic and more. During the show, host Kory French works through his weekly playlist of new releases and old favorites, giving listeners some history on the songs and the bands behind them.
If you’re looking for all music and no-frills, then this is the podcast for you. It’s 3+ hours of live/studio jam band music. You can find the playlists for each episode on their website: endlessboundaries.com
A Female run podcast that discusses all things Phish from a woman’s point of view. Listen as they interview Phish’s community members, play games like “Market Price” and discuss the latest goings-on in the Phish scene online and on the lot.
Hosted by music journalist Dean Budnick, LMTR tells the story of a band, their fans, and the journey that made them one of the most successful touring bands of all time. With over 50 interviews, season one of LMTR focuses on Phish, shedding light on how they pioneer an entire industry on many impactful and important levels, doing it their way.
This podcast looks back on Phish’s Big Cypress festival 20 years later—examining the legacy for Phish and the music world. Hosted and narrated by Jesse Jarnow, this five-episode series draws on interviews with members of Phish and its crew, fan memories, and conversations with other people across the music industry.
nugs.net founder Brad Serling’s podcast guides fans through a playlist of recent live music from artists like Phish, Dead & Company, The Allman Brothers, Pearl Jam, Metallica, The Raconteurs, Wilco, Widespread Panic, Umphrey’s McGee, and more.
Harris and Scott are comedians, music lovers, and friends. Where do they differ? Harris loves Phish, and Scott does not. On Analyze Phish, Harris navigates the vast landscape of Phish’s catalog to find entry points for Scott while trying to explain the live Phish experience without the use of illegal substances.
Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum explore the Grateful Dead’s celebrated Dick’s Picks live series. The show takes a deep dive into the 36 Dick’s Picks entries, the history of the Dead organization, and popular culture around each show.
In this podcast, Jon Barber dives deep into analysis and commentary of The Disco Biscuits and talks about his role in the band, music, technology and other topics. Jon also brings on a variety of exciting and inspiring guests to co-host with him.
The Sound Podcast is a music discovery interview-style podcast, hosted by Ira Haberman. Featuring Jam Bands and more… much more. Rooted in Americana, Blues, Bluegrass, Country, Folk, Funk, Jazz, Reggae, Rock, Soul but mostly Jam Band music. New episodes of The Sound Podcast are available Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The Wednesday episode is exclusively a live music playlist called LIVEFIVE powered by nugs.net.
This is a Podcast about Music – Industry, Festivals/Concerts, and Culture. It’s a mix of the Fan (Rob Turner) and Industry (Seth Weiner w/ Shimon Presents, Inc.) perspectives. Their presentation style can be difficult to jive with, but their guests are top-notch!
By nugs.net Staff Member and fan, Arya Jha Photos by Kory Thibeault. Check out more of his work at @korythibeaultphot
On Friday, January 24th, The Infamous Stringdusters returned to the legendary Fillmore, bringing a high energy performance to a nearly sold-out crowd in San Francisco. The Grammy Award-winning bluegrass quintet started off the show with a “Shakedown Street” tease, igniting the audience into a roar. Moving quickly into fan-favorite “Carry Me Away” they continued on into “Wake The Dead” which ended in heavy jamming and a battle between the dobro player, Andy Hall, and fiddliest Jeremy Garrett. Set one continued on with ISD classics like “Let Me Know” and “Steam Powered Aeroplane” alongside Shakedown teases which continued on throughout the entire show. “Gravity” brought the audience to a standstill with a soul moving performance and an epic dobro solo. The set ended with the psychedelic, playful yet dark, “Echoes of Goodbye” leaving the audience wanting more.
Set two brought the heat with a “Midnight Moonlight” opener, yet another nod to the legendary Fillmore, which came to little surprise after they mentioned the venue as one of their favorite places to play in the country. Set Two highlights included “Rise Sun”, the title track off the Dusters latest album, and a 13-minute jam of “No More To Leave You Behind”. They kept the audience engaged with covers of the Band’s “Cripple Creek”, Phish’s “2001″, and finally a full rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street”. Listening closely to the end of set one you’ll even find a “Dark Star” tease! The show continued on with a two-song encore, resting their instrument down after “Sunny Side Of The Mountain” which played well past the venue’s curfew.
Last week, Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum launched 36 From The Vault, a new podcast exploring the Grateful Dead’s celebrated Dick’s Picks live series. The show takes a deep dive into the 36 Dick’s Picks entries, the history of the Dead organization, and popular culture around each show. We caught up with Steven and Rob to find out more about the new series.
nugs: What makes Dick’s Picks unique amongst other official releases from the Grateful Dead?
Rob Mitchum: One of the joys of doing the podcast so far is doing a deep dive into who Dick was and how he came to be associated with the Dead organization. His background and the whole process in selecting the shows is really sort of fascinating early on. The key thing about Dick, I think, is that he came to the Grateful Dead organization already a huge tape trader and fan. He had that fan’s perspective and brought it to the organization. Everybody who was working for the Dead from the band to the crew to the people running the business had been inside for so long that they kind of lost perspective about what the outside world wanted from them. And that’s especially important for this kind of archival release series.
Dick was giving the fans what they want. He had his own sort of peculiar pov on what needed to be put out there. He talked a lot in early interviews about the fact that the band, by ‘93 certainly, never listened to the tapes. The only one who was interested in even participating in choosing or rejecting shows was Phil and he was doing all rejecting and no choosing basically, so he really slowed down the release in the early days. But Dick was super enthusiastic about all this music and would come across something like the “Here Comes Sunshine” that’s on Volume One and say, “We have to get this out there! Deadheads have got to hear this.” He would just argue and argue that it needed to be put out there and finally ended up winning some of these arguments with Phil. We’re all very lucky to have had his perspective on the inside at that point. Certainly, they wouldn’t have put out as much without Dick advocating for it and what they would have put out maybe wouldn’t have been as satisfying.
Steven Hyden: I think what makes the Dead unique in a lot of ways in terms of how their archive is handled is that they are probably the biggest example of fans stepping into the place of the band as stewards of the band’s history. The fans of the Grateful Dead have had such a big role in ultimately shaping the perception of how this band is perceived and I think mostly for the better. I think Dick is an example of this and there are lots of other people, lots of the Deadheads, who have much better taste in Dead music than the members themselves. If not for them there’d be a lot of great music that wouldn’t have been put out there for whatever reason. I think it’s a really interesting aspect of their history, the role that fans have played in writing and maybe correcting it in a lot of ways.
nugs: You guys mention in the podcast that the Dick’s Picks shows are a sort-of medium between the studio sound of early official releases and the DIY sound of bootleg tapes. What is it that distinguishes the sound of a Dick’s Picks show?
SH: It was kind of like the best of both worlds in a way where you could get something that sounded pretty good but it wasn’t overly professional or it didn’t have a ton of overdubs on it. It is interesting doing this show and realizing how much actually was done to these tapes in terms of just cutting songs out or like resequencing songs. The first Dick’s Picks record I ever got was Volume One and I wasn’t aware of how much had been taken out of there until I did this podcast. I heard you could stream the shows that they took that from and pretty much the whole first set is gone from Dick’s Picks Volume One. So it wasn’t quite as unedited as I assumed it was but still much less polished than a regular studio record would be.
nugs: On the note of live albums missing sections or being re-sequenced, what makes the six-song uninterrupted section in the second set of Dick’s Picks Volume One so special?
RM: One of the cool things that I think Dick’s Picks allowed the Dead to do is put out some of these hour-long song suites that they used to do regularly live. For a lot of reasons, they hadn’t really represented that on their official “live” albums. I think Live Dead probably gets the closest to it but even that one is spliced between I think two or three shows. A lot of their other live albums were sort of grab bags of best versions from a particular tour or run. If they’re edited together it was done in the studio later on by combining versions from different shows and things like that. What was sort of revolutionary at time was finally having a pretty solid unabridged hour of music and segues from the show on an easy compact-disc format. Usually, that was the domain of tapes and not something you could get your hands on in official quality.
SH: It really is amazing how spoiled people are now with this kind of stuff. I was just thinking about myself with Phish for instance. I only started listening to Phish in the 2010s. I’m used to an era where the show ends and within a couple of minutes there’s an instant show to stream online that’s a master and sounds great. At your fingertips, there’s an entire show. We’re so used to that now. Revisiting the series is a reminder that even getting part of a show that sounded this good was kind of a unique thing. it was a much harder thing to attain than it is now.
RM: That’s going back to before a time nugs.net spoiled music fans. But yeah, I think one of the interesting things I’ve learned from the start of the series is how the Dead organization was very nervous about whether this would actually work, which is crazy in retrospect. Now the Dead put out like eight to ten live releases a year or something like that between Dave’s Picks and the other box sets they do.
Dick, Kidd Candelario and a couple of other people that were involved in the start of the series really had to argue with the band, the organization, and the record label to do this. Even the permission they got was only to sell it through mail order and do a very low run for the time of only 25,000 copies each volume. Dick wanted to do complete shows but they wouldn’t commit at the time because they only wanted to do, at most, 2 discs. Of course, you can’t get a complete show on two discs. There were all these handicaps put on the project from the start just because they were worried that it might be a commercial bust.
SH: I guess maybe the Dead’s defense back in the early ‘90s was that putting out something that’s pretty unvarnished risks being picked apart. Especially by a fan base as critical as the Dead’s. So I understand their trepidation from that perspective, they didn’t want to put out something that was maybe less than perfect. And in the show that we just did, there’s this whole thing about editing out this terrible Phil Lesh bass solo. When you listen to the show it’s actually kind of good that it’s not there because that part of the album flows so well, it’s like really the best part of the whole release. But there is a part of you as a purist that’s like “oh I wish that was in there because that’s actually what happened.” The fact that they were willing to release Dick’s Picks as they did is a little bit of a leap of faith, to expose yourself in that way.
nugs: You guys have hinted that the show could explore some other artists along the way, what can we expect down the line from the podcast?
RM: Steven and I are both fans of the live album format in general and the Dick’s Picks series is such a revelation in how live albums can work for a band, doing more archival releases than polished live album releases. So I think we’re interested in those types of archival releases from other bands. Like Steve was talking about earlier, telling the story of the band through this very particular kind of release is a concept that fits the Dead perfectly and they were the ones that set the template for that. But there are other bands that do that as well and that’s the kind of thing we’d like to explore down the line or in special episodes
nugs: In the first episode, you guys go deep into the context around the show. You even dive into how the venue was named after a corrupt Tampa mayor. Is that something we can expect more of in future episodes?
SH: Part of the appeal for us doing this show was that it’s a chance to talk about the Grateful Dead, but it’s also an excuse to explore music history and pop culture history in a fun way. You could time travel back to December of 1973 and look at what’s happening in the world at that time and get a sense of what it would have been like to be at that show. Rob and I were both born several years after this show and I never got to see the Grateful Dead live at all. I’ve only ever experienced them through recordings. The time travel aspect of listening to live tapes is enhanced when you can look at the rest of the world at that time and see how that influenced what was going on.
RM: Yeah, I think a lot of times people tend to consider the history of the Dead in sort of a vacuum. They were always an oddball in the music industry so people tend to consider the Dead and their different eras in a silo without thinking about the cultural context of the time. What was going on in the music industry? What was going on in film? What was going on in the news?
Each show kind of gives us an opportunity to do that which is really fun. Looking at the different venues they played and seeing who else was playing that venue around the same time, It’s fun to be like “You know they played this show in Tampa not long after David Bowie was there on the Diamond Dogs tour.” A bunch of the shows in the ‘70s were within a month or two of like an Elvis appearance at the same venue. The other things that were sort of bobbing around in the culture at the time, of course, were going to have an influence on the Dead. They might have been doing their own thing but there’s certainly some bleed over you can hear from the bands, arts, and society that was around them.
SH: Another thing for Rob and I with this show was to approach it as huge fans of the Grateful Dead without being too clinical or scholarly about it. I think that we both want to have a sense of humor about the band. They’re a brilliant band, but they’re also kind of a goofy band. Craziness and brillance always co-mingled with this band and it’s part of what makes them so much fun to talk about.
I think that spirit of fun and reverence that’s inside the Grateful Dead is something that we wanted to have on this show and I think that’s a pretty big part of what we’re doing. I always feel like the best kind of music criticism should feel like listening to music and I hope that we have a little bit of that element of the Dead in our show.
Railroad Earth: Saturday 1/18/20 Live at The Fillmore in San Francisco
Photos provided by concert photographer Kory Thibeault. Check out more of his work at @korythibeaultphoto
Recap provided by nugs.net staff member and Railroad Earth fan Arya Jha
Railroad Earth’s Saturday night performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco was a non-stop dance party. Perhaps it was due to a well-received performance the night before, but by the time the band hit the stage they were well past warmed up and ready to rock. Railroad’s first song of the night “Lordy, Lordy” quickly transitioned from high tempo drumming and long bass riffs into a multi-layered psychedelic jam, setting the tone for a night full of solos and melodies held together by a seemingly infinite rhythm.
Set one continued on, taking a journey through ebbs and flows of uplifting harmonies. The crowd started to settle in and just as the effects of a beautiful light show against the band’s custom made backdrop quieted and entranced the audience, the band busted into spacey but tight banjo-led twang, bringing the room into a knee-slapping roar. ‘Old Man and the Land’ segued nicely into ‘Black Bear’ and bassist Andrew Altman segued nicely into upright bass, maintaining the foundation and tempo of the set regardless. Fiddler Tim Carbone led the band into an upbeat ‘Cuckoo’s Medley’ to end the set as Bill Graham’s chandeliers lit up the ceiling of the venue in a wave of colors.
Railroad Earth’s more recent shows have defied the classical bluegrass and even jam-grass genres through their use of the funk forward B3 Organ, an instrument rarely used by projects whose core is also determined by fiddle and mandolin. It was a true pleasure to see Matt Slocum on keys, and even better to hear how well his Leslie Whirl paired with Mike Robinson’s steel pedal shredding. While set one provided a great deal of harmonic energy, set two opened up room for alternative leads, from Todd Sheaffer’s acoustic guitar to Carey Harmon’s drums, and everything between. Always a crowd-pleaser “Elko” jammed on as fans tossed cards high into the sky in tribute to the lyrics, a true testament to the fanatic Northern California community the band has bred through their annual headlining sets at NorCal’s Hangtown Music Festival. “Captain Nowhere” segued into “1759” segued into “Fisherman’s Blues” played more like ballads but kept the crowd moving. Finally, in an emotional tribute to the historic venue and Jerry Garcia’s San Francisco roots came the short but sweet encore “Old and In The Way”. This show will easily be a fan favorite to regular Railroad Earth listeners, but also a wonderful start to their catalog if you are not yet versed. Railroad Earth’s live show recordings live on nugs.net and you can listen to the two night Fillmore run today.
Starting today, nugs.net subscribers can experience The Rolling Stones like never before. Filmed with stellar quality, a collection of vintage performances from The Rolling Stones’ Vault is now streaming in the videos section of the nugs.net app. There are currently three shows from the 1970s available to watch with more on the way soon. Now is your chance to watch Mick, Keith, and the rest of the band during the golden age of Rock’n’Roll.
We’re back for the first Third Man Thursday of the year and this month’s release is a unique treat. Today, Third Man Records is releasing The White Stripes’ 2001 show at Orange House in Munich, Germany. The show is one of only two known White Stripes shows to be recorded on reel-to-reel tape. Third Man Records’ Co-Founder Ben Blackwell’s write up details the unique process of mastering this show from the 1/4″ tapes:
This show is a remarkable performance in stellar quality. Boy do the Germans know how to record! Of particular interest was the fact that a radio broadcast in 2001 was recorded to 1/4” tape. Just seems like…such an anachronistic move. The fact that the tapes ended up in the Third Man Vault made it all the better to transfer at an appropriately-high bitrate and then share them here. But the tapes themselves were in an incredibly odd iteration which I had never even seen before. They weren’t on reels (or flanges) and instead the tape was all held together by sheer tension around a metal center piece that looks reminiscent of a 45rpm adaptor. I am told they are called AEG hubs. Additionally, the tape was wound with the reels magnetic side OUT. Leave it to our main man Bill Skibbe to track down a German Telefunken tape machine IN DETROIT and work magic on his end. The heads on Telefunken machines face IN, so he had to surgically unspool, respool, edit out dead space AND track down a step up converter as the machine only runs on 220v electricity. I wish everyone had their very own Bill Skibbe to solve technological quandaries like this. I mean, he IS for hire at Third Man Mastering, but I digress.
There are some songs missing here that are included in audio circulating amongst fans, in this instance clearly missed by engineers swapping out reels in real time. Rather than try to include from inferior sourced audio, we’ve chosen to just present the show exactly as it exists on these original tapes. Save for one EARLY gig (1997?) I am unaware of any other White Stripes performances that were captured on reel-to-reel tape, so this feels extra-special. Starting the set with “Death Letter” is peculiar and I love it…I can’t recall any other Stripes performance beginning with that song, but I’m sure some die-hard will take the opportunity to tell me otherwise! Coupled with rousing takes on “Love Sick” and “The Union Forever” the entire performance captivates. A prime example of the on-fire abandon Jack and Meg were brimming with in 2001.
Since 1976, Austin City Limits has been providing Texas and the rest of the world with iconic live sessions. Over the holidays New West Records added more than 15 of the greatest ACL performances of all time to the nugs.net catalog. Experience legendary performances from artists like Guided By Voices, Kris Kristofferson, David Byrne, Steve Earle, and more. The performances span four decades with shows from 1976 through 2004. Each show is available to purchase in the nugs.net store and you can stream the whole collection with the nugs.net app.
We’ve got four action-packed shows from last month’s Strings and Sol festival now streaming. Listen to performances from The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon, and Railroad Earth that feature tons of debuts and guests. There are two sets to check out from The Infamous Stringdusters. On December 13th they played a beach set and the next day they returned with a debut cover of “Stairway to Heaven.” The Leftover Salmon show features Del and Ronnie McCoury on a pair of tunes and multiple live debuts.
Now that we’re officially in the 2020s, we are looking back at the best music of the 2000s (so far). nugs.net’s founder, Brad Serling, has cultivated his list featuring some of the most memorable live performances from the last twenty years. You can listen to every song on the latest editions of the nugs.net Live Stash podcast. Brad goes through his full list of favorites in two parts providing commentary on each entry.
The home stretch of the Darkness tour in late 1978 may look like a victory lap, but its purpose was to return to key markets and seal the deal. The final push raised Springsteen and the E Street Band up from theaters played on previous legs to bigger rooms, with dates in arenas in cities like Cleveland, which closed the tour with a pair of shows at the Richfield Coliseum on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 1979.
In the Bay Area, that meant graduating from the Berkeley Community Theater and San Jose Center For the Performing Arts, played in the summer, to back-to-back nights at legendary promoter Bill Graham’s Winterland, capacity 5,400.
The first night at Winterland would also serve as the fifth and final live radio broadcast from the Darkness tour, thrilling listeners around the Bay Area on KSAN-FM and strategically extended via simulcast to audiences in Sacramento, Eugene, Portland, and Seattle on their respective rock stations. The simulcast primed the pump in two of those markets, as Bruce would play the Rose and Emerald cities in just a few days’ time.
By that point, Springsteen’s management and Columbia Records had recognized that the Darkness tour broadcasts which preceded Winterland (The Roxy in Los Angeles, Agora in Cleveland, Passaic, and Atlanta) were a powerful marketing tool, not only reaching established fans in core and adjacent markets but converting fence-sitters who were loyal listeners to those all-important rock radio outlets. Live concerts were already a staple of FM radio at the time, including nationally syndicated shows like the King Biscuit Flower Hour and Rock Around the World. Simulcasts of local concerts were equally common on FM stations like WMMR in Philadelphia and WMMS in Cleveland.
But Springsteen’s strategy and tactics were unique. No artist I know of had ever done five live broadcasts from the same tour and simulcast the shows regionally — taking over the airwaves for three hours at a clip, no less. In the process, Bruce built an alliance of rock stations, and their listeners that would remain loyal for years to come. Springsteen had long enjoyed incredible word of mouth about his concerts, but the ’78 broadcasts provided tangible, recordable, and shareable proof.
There was also an idea in the air that the follow up to Darkness on the Edge of Town simply had to be a live album. The broadcasts provided an opportunity to roll in a remote recording truck and kill two birds with one stone, sending the show over the air and capturing it to multi-track tape for potential future release. It just took a few decades longer than expected.
Fans and collectors have spent millions of pixels on message boards discussing and debating which shows were recorded on multi-tracks and wondering why more early Bruce gigs weren’t done. Beyond the expense (which was significant), the act of recording a live concert to multi-track itself was no simple feat circa 1978.
A 24-track, two-inch, reel-to-reel tape recorder is a massive piece of heavy equipment with a large footprint. The recorders are mounted on carts with industrial casters so they can be rolled into position. Two-inch recorders also require a lot of power to operate, and they are extremely sensitive to the conditions of their environment, particularly temperature.
Oh, did I mention you need two of them to record a concert without gaps? Two-inch tape and recorders were designed to record one song in the studio, not a three-hour concert. Given their short tape lengths, a recording engineer had to start a tape going on one machine, wait for it to run most of the way through, then fire up a second overlapping tape on the second machine and so on. Back and forth they would go: loading, recording, and switching tapes in real time on two machines to preserve a full performance. Today, you can record an entire show to multitrack on a laptop and a breakout box that fits in a backpack.
Given the complex logistics, it should come as no surprise that multi-track recording could occasionally go wrong, even with experienced engineers and producers in the truck. Whether there were complications on the night or tapes were lost over time, the surviving multi-track reels of the first night of Winterland cover less than half the show. The inclusion of “Fire” on Live 1975/85 from 12/16, not the better-known 12/15, may be a clue that the problems occurred on the night in question.
Luckily, remote recording units typically carried a third reel-to-reel deck with them as well: a high-quality, 15-IPS, two-track recorder to serve as a back-up/reference capturing the front-of-house mix as it happened. That’s exactly what the Record Plant’s R2R did on December 15, 1978, recording a pre-broadcast stereo feed from the mixing board.
Forty-one years later, we’re fortunate those two-track, 15-IPS masters from the familiar 12/15 show were recently unearthed, along with the complete multitrack masters from the previously unheard 12/16 set. Both sources have been newly transferred via Plangent Process, restored (12/15) and mixed (12/16) by Jon Altschiller and mastered by Adam Ayan to deliver a complete document of the Winterland stand, both the beloved broadcast performance from night one and the fresh-to-the-world set from night two.
A bounty of two peak Darkness concerts should be at the top of anyone’s holiday wish list. Most will know the celebrated 12/15 set like the back of their hand from tapes and bootlegs of the broadcast, but for 12/16, here’s a user guide to this wonderful addition to the live Darkness canon.
1) Bruce changed the set on night two in deference to fans attending both shows, opening with “Good Rockin’ Tonight” and playing “Rendezvous” for the first time on the tour. Incredibly, “Rendezvous” is one of six unreleased originals performed in the 25-song set, along with “Independence Day,” “The Fever,” “Fire,” “Because the Night” and “Point Blank.”
2) Introducing a weighty “Independence Day,” Bruce says, “This is a song I wrote a couple years ago. I was originally going to put it on Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is called ‘Independence Day.’ This is for my pop.” With his parents living in nearby San Mateo, we can assume that Douglas was very likely in the audience for the performance.
3) Bruce tells a completely different and much longer story than night one setting up “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” The tall tale includes entertaining references to Johnny Carson and Kellogg’s Pop Tarts, plus some audible chiming in from Stevie Van Zandt, who wants a new amplifier from Saint Nick.
4) Bruce dedicates “Racing in the Street” to “all the San Francisco night riders,” but after singing “Tonight, tonight, the strip’s just right” he goes totally blank. “I forgot the words,” he says. It is an endearing and rare moment of vulnerability, which he not only recovers from gracefully, but which seems to inject the show with an adrenaline shot: from that point forward, Springsteen and the band are en fuego. “Jungleland” brings the first set to a crackling close, riding the powerful dynamics of Clarence Clemons on saxophone and Van Zandt’s guitar solo, setting the table for a stunning second act.
5) “It’s Hard to Be a (Saint in the City)” is another set list change and serves as a stonking start to a second set for the ages. The guitar tone on this one should be bottled as a stimulant.
6) “Because the Night” begins with what might best be described as an experimental guitar intro that is more a sonic survey of echo, delay, and sustained notes than strumming. It’s the most Frippertronics approach I have ever heard Springsteen explore. Fascinating.
7) How about the version of “She’s the One”? The intro weaves “Mona” and “Preacher’s Daughter,” while Bruce later riffs on Van Morrison/Them’s “Gloria.” Stevie sings soulful retorts all over the performance, all in the service of Bruce’s heightened lead vocal. Listen to the incredible run he takes through, “Just one kiss, she’ll turn them long summer nights, with her tenderness / The secret pact you made, when her love could save you, from the bitterness… WHAAAAHOO!” Holy crap.
8) “The Fever” is focused and luscious, providing a deserved spotlight on the band, especially Danny Federici and the Big Man, who shine ever-so-brightly as they thread their solos around each other. Rest in peace, E Street icons.
9) A slightly shambolic “Detroit Medley” features a rare foray into Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.”
10) Finally, connoisseurs of audience noise (and I know you’re out there) should be extremely pleased with the level of fan interaction in Jon Altschiller’s mix. The crowd is ever-present and in full voice throughout the night and who can blame them?
Thanks to former Columbia product manager Dick Wingate for supplying contemporary information and documentation about the Darkness tour broadcasts.
It’s a White Christmas this year with two new archival releases from The White Stripes. The first release stretches back over twenty years to September 1999 in Detroit, Michigan and the second comes from the Seattle Seahawks Stadium Exhibition Center in 2003. Check out Third Man Records’ Co-Founder Ben Blackwell’s write up of both unique shows below.
What an odd show. Part of a mini festival dubbed Gutterfest, organized and emcee’d by local promoter and DJ Willy Wilson (that’s his voice you hear introducing the band), it was a rare event for the Stripes to open a show with a cover song, let alone one they had never played before and would never play again, but that’s the case with the Captain Beefheart classic “Diddy Wah Diddy” kicking off the performance. Followed by “Never Thought That I Could Love You” (sometimes titled “Lucky to Know You”), which holds a unique profile as being a song played by the White Stripes live a handful of times, yet never tackled in the studio and never showing up in any other Jack White outfit ever again. There might be a video kicking around of another show where the band plays this, otherwise, this may be the only time/way you’ll ever get to hear it. Otherwise, the set list is filled with early favorites and most excitingly, TONS of stage banter. I’ve no idea what had Jack so talkative this evening, but it sticks out, hands-down, as my single favorite collection of banter for a White Stripes show. From George Washington, Jack’s opinion on the size of roads, how much free time kids should have, who exactly is the “moon man”, where the street you grew up on got its name from and what exactly makes Wayne Kramer a “legend” are all addressed. In my opinion though, the best comment is after the band finishes playing “Why Can’t You Be Nicer to Me?” the sound man comes over the muffled stage speaker and says “That’s it guys” to which Jack replies, incredulously, “That’s it?!?! I was BORN here man!”
Weird to think about it now, but the Stripes would only perform as an opening act in Detroit ONE more time after this gig. While this show is far from perfect, it feels outright inspiring to see the trajectory Jack and Meg would take from this moment. Ultimately, a fascinating show for anyone with a deep appreciation of the band OR just a casual fan wanting to hear songs that exist nowhere else. – Ben Blackwell, Third Man Records
A dud of a room if there ever was one. I have no idea why they put on shows in this space. I mean all disrespect when I call this space a facility. But when the White Stripes are white hot in the touring behind Elephant I assume you just gotta play whatever room fits the crowd. And fortunately, the shortcomings of this space failed to affect the sound captured or the band’s performance. This show is of particular note as it would be the first time the Stripes would play with Yeah Yeah Yeahs since the YYY’s first-ever show back in September 2000. Having to follow an explosive opening act, the Stripes come out of the gate guns blazing with a bonkers version of “The Hardest Button to Button” which, while somewhat odd to land in as the set-opener, helps establish the mood. My favorite moment on this recording is the extemporaneous version of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Man” done in a medley with “Astro” and “Jack the Ripper.” Playing a cover in front of the folks who wrote it, to me, is the ultimate sign of respect. Equal parts electric, unhinged, of-the-moment and uncannily compelling. Truth of the matter is that it felt like ALL shows on this 2003 West Coast run were wild. One of the more memorable span of shows for me, the band hitting its stride at the highest of heights. And yes, listening now, it is absolutely totally weird hearing “Seven Nation Army” in the middle of the set, but at the time, I don’t think I felt that way.
Of the 63 or so shows the White Stripes recorded in 2003, this appears to the be the only performance we do not still have multitrack masters on. All audio comes from a CD-r made the evening of the performance with a “Glenn Sound” sticker label attached to it. I know that Glenn Sound is a studio in Seattle where the Stripes did a radio session back in 2002, but am unsure as to what their involvement was for this 2003 show. The CD was left on a table in the band’s tour bus after the show and I was sure to snatch it up, only re-discovering it in my basement mere weeks ago. – Ben Blackwell, Third Man Records
It’s that time of the year where artists are looking back at their favorite highlights from the last 12 months. The String Cheese Incident’s Travelogue 2019 covers some of the most unique moments from the band’s extensive travels over the past year. The selections were handpicked by SCI archivist Larry Fox who included a special message for fans with the collection.
“2019… The String Cheese Incident’s 25th year! In putting together this year’s look-back, I tried to pull together some of the more unique moments from this year’s Incidents. This is not so much a “best-of”, but a “taste” of all the corners of the musical spectrum that the band touches on from night to night. There were a ton of great performances that didn’t fit on the four disc format. There’s a heavy dose of “one-time-played”, as well as a few key “guest artist contributions”. I encourage you to explore the rest of the 2019 catalog on LiveCheese & nugs.net. If you haven’t already signed up for the nugs.net streaming app, you owe it to yourself to try it out! Every show on this site is available for streaming – a miracle of modern technology!
As I say every year, I hope you enjoy listening to this collection as much as I enjoyed putting it together! Hope to see you guys out on the road in 2020! – Larry Fox (SCI Archivist)”
The entire Travelogue 2019 collection is available as a free download and is currently streaming free in the nugs.net app.
Earlier this year we added the Wilco Roadcase collection to the nugs.net catalog. Today, five new shows are being released for the first time ever, exclusively on nugs.net. This release includes four Wilco archives from 1999 – 2004 and a special Jeff Tweedy solo performance from 2005. Check out the details on each show below.
1999: Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, UK
Before embarking the following month on a proper tour in support of the release of Summerteeth (a tour that would last for most of 1999), Wilco played a few “showcase” shows, including this one at Shepherds Bush Empire in London. As evidenced by this recording, as well as the one from New Orleans (which also exists in the nugs.net archive), these shows kept things pretty “close to the vest”, presenting the new material in arrangements that were very close to the recorded versions (in contrast to the looser approach that would prevail later in the year). With Jay Bennett spending more time behind the keyboards, and the continued use of Leroy Bach as an additional sideman, the band was able to reproduce the lush sounds heard on the album, which was released three weeks prior. In addition to the new Summerteeth material, other highlights include powerful versions of “Hotel Arizona” and “Hesitating Beauty”.
Wilco set out on their fall 2001 U.S. tour with the aggregate weight of the band’s recent lineup change, the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and promoting a new record that was not yet officially released. While earlier shows revealed a band still finding its sea legs (no doubt due, at least in part, to what was happening in the world at the time), by the time they landed in San Francisco for a three-night run at the Fillmore, Wilco was a minimalist yet powerful four-piece. This show, judged to be the best of the run, sees the band playing beautiful, sparse arrangements of nearly all of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, with “Ashes Of American Flags” being a particular standout. Other highlights include what Jeff announces as their first live performance of “Pieholden Suite”, and a crazy, chaotic, and extended “Misunderstood” featuring a gnarly electric guitar loop.
2003: Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia, PA
Wilco and tour co-headliners Sonic Youth head into Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing (on the banks of the Delaware River) following two shows at New York’s Central Park. By this time, the Tweedy / Stirratt / Kotche / Bach / Jorgensen five piece lineup had been playing together for about a year, with Mikael now playing a full array of keyboards, resulting in a more dense and intricate sound. Highlights of this show center around the still-formulating arrangements of songs that would later appear on the A Ghost Is Born album, including a very electric version of “Muzzle of Bees” (with some different lyrics) and a bopping take on “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” that splits the difference between the earlier “folk-y” approach and the full-on “Kraut Rock” version to follow. In addition, the encore includes and extended and intense version of “Laminated Cat” featuring frequent collaborator and then Sonic Youth member Jim O’Rourke.
Following opening sets by Sleater-Kinney and The Flaming Lips, Wilco sets the tone for a raucous New Year’s Eve by taking the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden (in their pajamas) and opening with the not-so-fist-pounding “Less Than You Think”. Not to worry…party intentions are quickly displayed as the band follows that up with a version of “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” played at breakneck speed. “Come for the repertoire, stay for the covers” is the order of the night, as the band includes, among many others, versions of “Living After Midnight” (Judas Priest), “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (Blue Oyster Cult) and even “Love Will Keep Us Together” (The Captain and Tennille). Some of these covers would enter into the band’s short-term repertoire, while others were “one and done” for this special event.
2005: Tribeca Performing Arts Center, New York, NY
Jeff Tweedy’s second-ever full solo tour rolled into Lower Manhattan’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center on November 16th and 17th, 2005. Band-mate Nels Cline opened the show on the 16th, and Glen Kotche opened on the following night. In addition to Wilco favorites and deep cuts, these shows also featured material from Jeff’s days in Uncle Tupelo, as well as extended and hilarious “discussions” with “the abyss”…pitch black audience members talking as if they were voices inside his head. But the true highlight are the two Loose Fur songs performed by…Loose Fur. Jeff brings out Glenn to play a few songs with him as he had been doing (and would do) throughout the tour; the difference on this night being that Jim O’Rourke would join them on bass for “Laminated Cat” and the yet-to-be-released “The Ruling Class”. This would mark only the third time that Loose Fur had appeared onstage, with the other two shows also happening in New York, back in 2002.
Today and tomorrow are the busiest travel days of the year. We’ve created a playlist for nugs.net subscribers to keep everyone truckin’ along on their way to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. It’s packed with live versions of classic hits that the whole car can enjoy.
Clocking in at two hours, The Thanksgiving Road Trip playlist is filled with the music of Springsteen, The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and more road trip staples. Of course, no road trip playlist would be complete without a little country. There’s Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, John Denver, and more providing that classic American road trip atmosphere. And finally, the playlist features incredible covers from Greensky Bluegrass, Tauk, and Goose. It’s the perfect accompaniment for the open road.
The year is rapidly coming to a close. Fall tours are ending and many artists will take a few weeks off to rest, reflect, and prepare for a new year of music. Before we charge into a new decade, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite shows from 2019.
Dopapod is back with another massive drop of new shows. The Dopapod catalog on nugs.net has nearly doubled with this latest collection. There are tons of unique performances to explore from 2011 to 2019. Every show is available for individual download or you can stream all 200+ shows in the nugs.net app. Don’t know where to start with the new shows? We’ve got you covered with some highlights:
2019 was a busy year in the Bruce Springsteen archival series. This year’s releases spanned from 1978 to 2012. These performances highlight Springsteen’s vast and varied career. You can listen to shows with the full E Street Band or check out The Boss solo. Venues range from stadiums to theatres everywhere from New York to California. This year’s archives included fan favorites like the famous Bridge School Benefit show in ’86 with Danny Federici and Nils Lofgren and the legendary Piece De Resistance, Passaic ’78. There are tons of shows to explore for Bruce fans new and old.
The final U.S. stop on the Tunnel of Love tour is a powerful showcase for the album along with rare Springsteen originals and covers. Bolstering core Tunnel tracks are non-album gems “Be True,” “Seeds,” “Part Man, Part Monkey” and “Light of Day,” while Bruce taps his R&B, rock, blues and folk roots for covers of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom,” The Sonics’ “Have Love, Will Travel,” Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and even a couple verses of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild.” Plus, a soundcheck bonus track cover of Ed Townsend’s “For Your Love.”
Equal parts concert and Irish wake, Tampa 2008 celebrates the life of founding E Street Band member Dan Federici, who passed away five days earlier. With heavy hearts, Bruce and the band perform a charged, emotional set that blends key tracks from Magic and songs selected with Phantom Dan in mind, including the tour premiere of “Growin’ Up,” a rare, show-opening “Backstreets,” “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and a cathartic, one-off performance of the gospel standard, “I’ll Fly Away.”
Bruce brings the Devils & Dust solo tour to an unforgettable conclusion with a setlist that pulls out all the stops for the final show in Trenton. From an instrumental cover of the late Link Wray’s “Rumble” to start, through rare solo outings of “Empty Sky,” “Fire,” “Drive All Night,” “All That Heaven Will Allow,” “Thundercrack” and “Santa Claus is Coming’ to Town,” Trenton 2005 teems with surprises, none more so than “Zero and Blind Terry” on piano (not performed since 1974) and the pre-Greetings original “Song for Orphans,” released here for the first time.
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of two Olympic Games, provides a fitting backdrop to the last lap of the Born In The U.S.A. tour. On opening night of the final four shows, in front 83,000 fans, Bruce & The E Street Band hit their stadium-tour zenith with a powerhouse performance that mixes road-tested versions of “Seeds,” “Atlantic City,” “I’m Goin’ Down,” and “Glory Days” with risk-taking world premieres of Edwin Starr’s “War” and the beloved b-side, “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart.”
Performing with his new band in front of eager hometown fans, Springsteen goes the extra mile in this spirited set showcasing Human Touch and Lucky Town along with a few special treats. New Jersey 1992 delivers 13 songs from the two albums, from “Living Proof” and “Souls Of The Departed” to “Real Man” and “All Or Nothin’ At All.” It also features the tour’s only performance of the gospel gem “Ninety-Nine And A Half (Won’t Do)” showcasing the background singers, plus a unique solo-to-band arrangement of “Open All Night” that hilariously updates the turnpike tale.
On a long, special night that rolled into his 63rd birthday the following day, Bruce dials up a spirited, 34-song set brimming with Wrecking Ball material; tour premieres for “Cynthia” and a moving “Into The Fire”; the first “In The Midnight Hour” since New Year’s Eve 1980; a rare coupling of “Meeting Across The River” into “Jungleland”; “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart,” “Downbound Train” and “It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”; plus special guest Gary U.S. Bonds on “Jolé Blon” and “This Little Girl.”
Night two of the legendary three-show stand at Nassau Coliseum 1980 is a barnstormer. It features the tour premiere of “Night” as the opener and, in its lone River tour performance, an extraordinary “Incident On 57th Street” into “Rosalita” to close the set. Spanning 35 songs, Nassau 12/29 beautifully blends deep River cuts (“Stolen Car,” “Wreck on the Highway,” “Point Blank”), seasonal nuggets (“Merry Christmas Baby” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and fan favorites (“Fire,” “Because the Night”), making it one of the finest shows of the tour.
Bruce’s performance at the inaugural Bridge School Benefit Concert marked his first major appearance since the end of the BIUSA tour and his first acoustic set in over a decade. An astonishing a cappella take of “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” opens, followed by the debut of the stripped down “Born In The U.S.A.” Danny Federici and Nils Lofgren then join in for a sublime set that includes “Seeds,” “Darlington County,” “Mansion On The Hill,” “Fire,” “Follow That Dream” and “Hungry Heart” with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. $2 from each sale goes to The Bridge School. Dedicated to Elliot Roberts (1943-2019).
The most famous Springsteen bootleg of all time, Piece De Resistance, comes to the live archive series as Passaic 9/19/78, newly mixed from Plangent Processed multi-track master tapes. As originally broadcast up and down the Eastern seaboard, the first night of three at the Capitol Theatre may be the definitive Darkness tour document and features “Streets Of Fire,” “Independence Day,” “Prove It All Night,” “Meeting Across The River,” “Kitty’s Back,” “Fire,” “Because The Night” “Point Blank” and “Raise Your Hand.” This beloved live performance has never sounded better.
A consensus pick as one of the best nights on the Reunion tour, Los Angeles 10/23/99 brings it wire to wire, from the show-opening invocation “Meeting In The Town Tonight” into “Take ‘Em As They Come” through the rare, delightful closer “Blinded By The Light.” Other highlights of this peak Reunion set include “The Ties That Bind,” “Darkness On The Edge Of Town,” “The Promised Land,” “Incident On 57th Street,” “For You,” “Backstreets” “Light Of Day” (detouring briefly for a romp through “California Sun”) and the first solo piano version of “The Promise” in a formal concert since 1978.
Making his first full concert appearance in Asbury Park since the ’70s, Springsteen brings the Joad tour to where it all began. Accordingly, Bruce unfurls a Shore-centric set that opens with a three-song blast from Greetings: “Blinded By The Light,” “Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street” and “Growin’ Up.” With sympathetic support from Danny Federici, Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell, Bruce moves through apropos surprises (“Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” “Rosalita” and “Sandy”), moving rarities (“When You’re Alone” and “Shut Out The Light”) and wonderful takes of “Racing In The Street” and “Independence Day” among many highlights.
Dead & Company’s Fall Fun Run mini-tour was a roaring success. The band performed a trio of two-night runs in New York City, Uniondale, and Hampton. When a tour kicks off on Halloween night, you know you’re in for a treat. We’ve recapped some of our favorite highlights from the six shows below. Every show from the Fall Fun Run is available now to download or stream on nugs.net!
Robert Hunter Tribute Setlist
Halloween was the first show the band had played since Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter passed away. To honor Hunter, the band packed the setlist with songs written by the legendary wordsmith. The tribute performance included “Ripple” as a rare show-opening song for the band. The entire show is filled with Hunter’s work including “Tennessee Jed,” “They Love Each Other,” and “Terrapin Station.”
Werewolves in Madison Square Garden
It wouldn’t be a proper Halloween show without at least one ghostly cover. Dead & Company closed out the show with an amazing cover of “Werewolves of London.” It was the perfect cap on a spectacularly spooky night. Amongst the Halloween thrills, The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon was in the crowd for his first-ever Dead show with Bravo’s Andy Cohen.
Maggie Rogers Joins During Night Two at MSG
The band brought out Maggie Rogers to join on vocals for a pair of tunes during their second night at The Garden. Rogers first emerged near the end of the first set for “Friend of the Devil.” It was one of our favorite versions of the Dead classic in recent memory and Rogers brings something really special to the mix. Rogers returned after the second set to join on the band’s encore-favorite “The Weight,” again shining on vocals.
Record-Setting at Nassau
Grateful Dead and Dead & Company were honored by Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for their combined 44 shows at the stadium, the most anyone has ever played the historic venue in Uniondale, NY. A tie-dye adorned banner was hoisted in the Coliseum to celebrate the record.
“Space” on The Mothership
The tour came to a close in Hampton, Virginia with a pair of shows at the Hampton Coliseum, colloquially known as The Mothership. Counter to the Dead’s deep history with Nassau, this was actually the band’s first-ever performance at The Mothership. The band celebrated with a pair of spacey posters.
“Ripple” Bookends the Tour
Just as the tour began, the final show of the Fall Fun Run closed with “Ripple.” It was a nice bookend on an exciting tour. There was a theme of juxtaposition on this tour as we honored old friends and made new ones, returned to a venue full of history and played one for the first time. Still, through the flux of life and time, the songs endure. Ripple, like all of the Grateful Dead’s music, remains constant. The music never stopped.
Star Kitchen is one of our favorite new projects. The band is the brainchild of The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein and Eric Krasno Band’s Danny Mayer. The supergroup also includes Rob Marscher and Marlon Lewis. Their performances explore the music of Stevie, Jimi, James, & more in new and interesting ways. We sat down with the band to talk about their shows on nugs.net and more.
Q: Tell us about the hidden gems in these releases. Do you have a stand out track or show from the batch?
Star Kitchen: I really love the Boat Cruise show in NYC. It was the first time that the band played as a four-piece without any guests at all, and it was a benchmark moment for the band. We hadn’t had the confidence to pull off a whole show without the help of some special treats along the way, but it was great. We pulled it off with a very small crowd, but huge energy. It has become our go-to recording to listen to in the van.
Q: What inspired you to start a funk forward project over all else?
SK: Really, the thing that inspired me to start this project was the Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s holiday album. Every year that is the go-to in my house. The songs are dope, and the band is the best. Ultimately, it brought me back to listening to funk in general, and I went through a deep stage of dissecting Greyboy All-stars jams. Then I went further back and started relearning all of the James Brown grooves and Aretha Franklin classics; and of course, I made a James Jamerson playlist and started playing along with that. I didn’t know how to make a funk band happen, but just as with everything, the universe did deliver this time.
Q: What are your hopes for how a new listener feels when they leave a Star Kitchen show?
SK: I feel like I want them to say, oh ok, I get it, it’s funk, but also it’s not. We are taking these songs that everyone has heard thousands of times, and many that you’ve never heard, and stretching them like rubber bands, as far as we can, in every direction. Recently, someone came up to me and said, “wow that reminded me a lot of what JGB used to be,” and I was like, this guy gets it. We are taking funk and soul tunes, and then taking everything we know from being experts in improvisation and applying it to those songs in our own way. That’s what JGB used to do, and that’s what this ended up being, not by accident. I am always the most influenced by the patriarch of the jamband scene.
Three decades on, one can underestimate the significance of the Ghost of Tom Joad tour. Fans had been talking about the prospect of a solo acoustic tour since Nebraska, a dream reinforced by the Bridge School appearance in 1986 and the sublime sets Springsteen turned in at the Christic Institute concerts in 1990. (The Bridge and Christic shows are available for download as part of the live archive series.) But it would be another five years for Bruce to go it alone for real, starting his first solo tour in December 1995 and continuing well into 1997.
Not only was he playing on sans band, but he was performing in theaters the size of which he hadn’t seen since the Darkness tour. The period is also notable for the debuts of several original songs (e.g. “It’s the Little Things That Count” and “There Will Never Be Any Other for Me But You”) in a set that grew more exploratory in assaying Bruce’s back catalog as the tour carried on.
Then came a series of remarkable hometown bookings. In November 1996, Bruce played his old high school, St. Rose of Lima, in Freehold, NJ (also available in the live download series). Later that month, a three-show stand at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, which was not only the namesake of his debut album, but the city whose clubs had served as a finishing school for the young musician and his future bandmates. Based on available information, Springsteen had not played Freehold in the E Street Band era, and he hadn’t done a proper concert in Asbury Park since sometime in 1973.
Given the so-called trilogy of recent projects looking back at his life (the book Born to Run, Springsteen on Broadway and Western Stars), one could suggest the November 1996 Shore shows were the first steps in literally revisiting his history.
Armed with that awareness, the first thing Bruce says as he takes the Paramount Theatre stage is, “Greetings, from Asbury Park.” We’re treated to three tracks from the album: a shambolic “Blinded By the Light,” plus lively takes of “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” and “Growin’ Up.”
“What the hell was I thinking about when I wrote all that stuff?” he asks with a hearty laugh as he wraps the trio. One likeable hallmark of the Joad tour is an unmistakable streak of humor, darker in tone and language, that seemed to intentionally contrast with a more earnest persona that had become the de facto depiction of our hero.
When someone shouts for “Mary Queen of Arkansas,” Bruce’s candor is priceless. “No. I ain’t gonna be playing that tonight. I tried to play that at home a few nights ago, and I couldn’t figure out what it’s about.”
The top of the show is appealingly loose but turns more meaningful with a distinctive reading of “Independence Day.” The song’s only tour performance is lightly Joad-ified and resolute, as the protagonist tells the tale with wistful distance and perspective. The 12-string “Darkness on the Edge of Town” is captivating as always, and “Johnny 99” is excellent — it, too, carries a tinge of reflection.
All four Shore shows featured supplemental musicians, and this night showcased the critical contributors: Danny Federici, Patti Scialfa and Soozie Tyrell. Phantom Dan sneaks on stage appropriately in a rare outing for “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” while Soozie and Patti bring one of those aforementioned deep cuts to life in an exquisite version of the criminally underplayed “When You’re Alone” from Tunnel of Love. The deceptively simple rumination on the loss of love remains as poignant as ever.
Staying in the hidden gems lane, all three contribute to one of Springsteen’s songwriting masterpieces, the “Born in the U.S.A.” b-side “Shut Out the Light.” Introduced as a song he wrote shortly after Nebraska, “Shut Out the Light” pulls another narrative thread on returning Vietnam veterans and the war they brought home with them. Bruce recalls the draft board in Asbury Park in the late ’60s and acknowledges his luck in getting out (a story told in greater detail in his autobiography) as he introduces a song about someone who wasn’t as lucky.
The homestretch of the set sticks to the established and powerful Joad-tour core, including “Born in the U.S.A.,” “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” and “Sinaloa Cowboys.” But Bruce makes one fascinating and to some degree unlikely inclusion, placing “Racing in the Street” between “The Line” and “Across the Border.” Not unlike the earlier performance of “Independence Day,” “Racing” carries subtle notes of retrospection and world weariness as it rides Soozie Tyrell’s melancholy violin. It’s not a long rendition like it would be in the hands of the E Street Band, but composed, potent, and unique to this tour.
Every live version of “Across the Border” and the story which precedes it truly capture the heart of Tom Joad. Bruce movingly recounts seeing John Ford’s movie Grapes of Wrath and the moments in the film that so deeply affected him, calling out specific scenes and camera framing with a director’s eye and quoting key lines of dialogue that form a sort of outline for the questions Bruce explores on the album and tour.
For the encore, the mood turns upbeat, starting with “Working on the Highway” and continuing with a fine “This Hard Land,” again featuring Danny Federici on accordion. Of course Danny returns two songs later as well for Bruce’s ultimate boardwalk homage, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” introduced with a sweet remembrance of the music scene and players that were there from the beginning. What comes in between is the tour debut of “Rosalita,” in a highly uncommon acoustic arrangement that makes up in liveliness what it lacks in musicality.
We end with the powerfully reimagined “The Promised Land.” While “Dream Baby Dream” was more of a pure mantra in the same set position on the Devils & Dust tour, “The Promised Land” a la Joad is a hymnal, too. Bruce’s acoustic guitar thump serves as the rhythm track propelling a reinterpretation that transports the song from exaltation to something more humanistic.
In the two nights that followed, Springsteen was joined by more guests and debuted a host of other rarities as the tone shifted ever more festive. But at his first show in Asbury Park in more than 30 years, recognition of a return to the place of origin is a compelling presence in nearly every song.