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.”
February: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL, 4/22/08
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).
September: Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ, 9/19/78
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.