The White Stripes Under The Amazonian Lights

The White Stripes

LISTEN NOW: Teatro Amazonas Opera House, Manaus, Brazil – June 1st, 2005

By Ben Blackwell

Described by the local press as “deliciously irresponsible” and the first rock concert ever at the grand Teatro Amazonas Opera House, the performance of June 1st, 2005 was simply incomparable. Featuring a devastating cover of Bob Dylan’s “Love Sick”, two versions (one electric, one acoustic) of “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known,” three versions of “Passive Manipulation” (two sublime, one outstanding), a snippet of Howlin Wolf’s “I Asked For Water,” and ample marimba on “The Nurse,” and what you have is one of the most iconic and memorable shows the White Stripes ever played. 

Words do not ably describe the beauty of the Teatro Amazonas nor the furor riled up by the White Stripes appearance there. Not only was there fear that the amplification of the band would cause the plaster in the building to crack and possibly fall and injure attendees, but out of custom/fear/lord-knows-what the crowd remained seated until being explicitly asked to stand from the stage by Jack White himself. If that wasn’t enough, during the show Jack and Meg ventured outside the venue to play an entirely unamplified version of “We Are Going to Be Friends” for the assembled multitude of fans unable to purchase tickets and watching the performance via closed-circuit feed. The resultant melee was arguably a riot and was lovingly  and all together what it makes is one of the best true rock and roll moments of recent memory. Heck, Jack White even got married that day.

The best White Stripes show? Some folks might say that. Listen for yourself and you be the judge.

These Promises We Make At Night

Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

LISTEN NOW: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, June 27, 2000

By Erik Flannigan

Any Springsteen show is special, and every Springsteen show is a candidate to be extra special when surprises enter the setlist or the performance peaks beyond expectation. For those of us who count the number of Bruce concerts we’ve attended by dozens and decades, there’s something immensely satisfying about attending a show you know will be extraordinary.

Such was the case when Springsteen announced the final stand of the Reunion tour: ten nights at Madison Square Garden. Fans across the country and around the world busted open their piggy banks to book flights for what was an E Street sure thing—inevitably special shows wrapping 14 triumphant months on the road.

The legendary final night, July 1, 2000, is already an integral installment in the Live Archive series. Now we’re treated to MSG show No. 8, June 27, 2000, which coincidentally features nine different songs than the finale set. The range of his song selections speaks to the excitement the Reunion tour spurred through deeper exploration of Springsteen’s catalog.

Night eight opens with “Code of Silence,” for my money one of the best true rock songs Bruce has delivered in the 2000s. It kicks off the show with the urgency and energy “Badlands” did so often on the Darkness tour. “The Ties That Bind” follows, the first of those nine changes from the finale, reinforcing the band-fan bond at the outset. “Adam Raised a Cain” has made it onto several Reunion tour Archive releases, and each performance is distinct. Here it starts measured and moody until the guttural guitar solo, after which Springsteen’s voice markedly shifts intensity as he carries the song to a soaring conclusion.

“Two Hearts” into “Trapped,” the dynamics of which remain stirring, especially in the lead-up to the Big Man’s liberating solo. While nowhere near as striking as its stark 1980 readings, the wistful countrified arrangement of “Factory” seems to shift the song to a distant memory with which the narrator has made his peace. 

“American Skin (41 Shots)” continues to flourish in these early outings, introduced plainly as just “a new song” for which Springsteen requests quiet. He sings the lyrics vividly, and as each E Street voice breaks through the effect is haunting, as if to show how the tragedy spreads and touches bystanders — and, by proxy, all of us.

The band makes an unusual musical transition from the despair of “American Skin” to the hope of “The Promised Land,” starting angular and edged before softening abruptly for a warm, comforting version of the Darkness staple.

The Reunion tour five-pack ensues, carrying us through the center of the show from “Youngstown” (this night as much of a showcase for Roy Bittan’s piano as Nils Lofgren’s guitar) through “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.” The latter offers tasty detours into Curtis Mayfield’s “It’s Alright,” Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” “Red Headed Woman,” and Patti Scialfa’s mini showcase of her own “Rumble Doll.”

An extraordinary trio of songs follows, cementing this show as a special night indeed. River outtake “Loose Ends” is one of the most deserving songs to be liberated by Tracks. For those of us who cherished our bootleg copies of the song all those years, it is indeed the great in-concert track we always knew it could be.

On a night of highlights, it would be difficult to deny “Back in Your Arms” is the peak. The song was recorded during the Greatest Hits sessions in early 1995 and released on Tracks three years later. Though performed only 15 times with the E Street Band to date, the song enjoys a kind of instant-classic status, so relatable in its subject matter, so appealing in its Stax/Volt arrangement and tone.

I rarely think of a Springsteen song being sung by anyone else, but “Back in Your Arms” so thoroughly invokes Otis Redding, I can imagine how he would interpret it. Beyond Springsteen’s own soulful vocals, Danny Federici’s organ solo shines, as does Clarence Clemons’ saxophone. This particular performance of “Back in Your Arms” is one I will keep coming back to.

If that rarity wasn’t enough, Springsteen fully blows minds with “Mary Queen of Arkansas.” The Greetings track had been resurrected earlier in 2000, at a stop in Little Rock, for its first live reading in 26 years. Curious that when Springsteen toured solo in 1995-97 and again in 2005, he never once performed “Mary.” This is very much a Tom Joad-style arrangement, narratively connecting with that album more than I had previously appreciated. Still a peculiar song, but a great rendition in new light.

“Backstreets” brings the band back in what is an excellent, passionately sung, contemporary version. The E Streeters continue to show their restored prowess with an extremely entertaining “Light of Day.” It starts with a guitar line for the first minute or so that feels like it is lifted from Link Wray or Dick Dale, though I can’t quite place it. (Can you?) Other references are easier to identify: a few riffs from “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” slip in, while later “C.C. Rider” and “Jenny Jenny” form an embedded mini-“Detroit Medley” just before Bruce’s familiar “I’ve Been Everywhere” list of cities conquered.

A robust “Hungry Heart” starts the encore, which hits “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” “If I Should Fall Behind” and “Land of Hope and Dreams” as it should, plus one extra treat. Bruce changed his set lists frequently on the River and Born in the U.S.A. tours, and both had their share of setlist surprises. But there was a sense circa 1980-88 that some of Springsteen’s older material wasn’t under consideration. Reunion changed all that. Every song was again a possibility, and “Blinded By the Light” represents that spirit.

I was fortunate enough to attend this show, which started with a brand new song and encored with Bruce’s very first single, the recognition of which was not lost on me then or now. MSG 6/27/00 was extra special, just like we knew it would be.

Interview With Michael League of Snarky Puppy

Snarky Puppy’s full nugs.net catalog is now streaming for the first time ever. In addition to their existing library, new shows from the genre-bending band will be added to the nugs.net catalog on the second Wednesday of every month. We talked to bassist & founder of Snarky Puppy, Michael League about the band, live music, and more:

nugs.net: You’re a formative member of Snarky Puppy, and continue to compose and produce the vast catalog that Snarky Puppy has created. How does the rotating cast of the Snarky Puppy ensemble change your approach to those original compositions within a live setting?

Michael League: We really don’t even try to make the live versions of the songs resemble the studio recordings unless that’s the most effective way to express the song while on tour. It’s about creating the best possible result in the environment in which we are, rather than trying to recreate something that we made in a vastly different environment. And really, the individual players and personalities on stage constantly push the songs in new directions, which for me is the main allure of touring. I love to see the songs grow.

nugs.net: Snarky Puppy’s music transcends the border of the United States, as the live catalog proves. Has the constant international touring affected the live sounds of your performances? Does the culture of the country you are performing in ever lead to live improv inspired by the location?

ML: Absolutely. We named one of our records “Culcha Vulcha” for this reason. Whenever we travel, we try our best in the little time we have to mix and mingle with the great musicians of whatever city we’re in. We’ve spent many late nights and early mornings in places like Brazil, Perú, Turkey, etc. hanging with, listening to, playing with, and taking lessons from the masters of the music from those musical cultures. It’s inevitable that certain things will slip into the music.

nugs.net: Something that stands out to us from the latest batch of Snarky shows on nugs.net is the incredible cast of special guests. It’s an incredible display of cross-cultural commonality. How does Snarky Puppy go about finding each special guest and how do you know each artist will work well with your compositions in a live space? 

ML: Most of the guests that join us for live shows are already friends of ours or at least friends of friends. But sometimes we’ll just contact someone we love and respect out of the blue to see if they’d like to join us for a song. The truth is that the music world is very small, so you’re never really more than one degree of separation from a person you respect.

nugs.net: What four words describe life on the road with Snarky Puppy?

A: Family. Food. Growth. Love.

Head to the nugs.net app or desktop player and check out our full library of exciting shows from Snarky Puppy! You can also check out two free playlists curated by Michael League in the free shows section, no subscription required.

Lounging at the Lagoon in Pensacola

Photo: Ben Twingley / Pensacola News Journal

The first show of Jimmy Buffett’s Nothin’ But Time 2021 Virtual Tour airs Saturday, March 6th on nugs.net  featuring the penultimate date of the 2012/13 Lounging at the Lagoon tour. The “Lounging” tour took Jimmy all over the country from San Francisco to Camden, New Jersey. As the tour came to a close, Jimmy pulled out all the stops for this Mardi Gras week show with 25 songs full of coastal fun. 

Taking place on February 5th, 2013 at the Pensacola Bay Center near the Floribama Shore, the show includes rare appearances of “Frank and Lola,” “Floridays,” and more. A highlight of the show, Nadirah Shakoor shines on a reworked “Queen” version of the “King of Something Hot’ to close out the first half of the show. 

Midway through the performance, the band goes acoustic for three songs including Will Kimbrough’s “Piece of Work,” “Pencil Thin Mustache,” and Crosby, Stills, and Nash’s “Southern Cross.” After Eddie Vedder was suddenly no longer able to attend New Orleans’ Jazz Fest in 2012, Jimmy was called in sub-in alongside Mac McAnally and Sonny Landreth. The all-acoustic Jazz Fest set was so much fun that it became a nightly feature of the 2012/13 tour dubbed “The Beach Band”. With Mardi Gras in the air, John Lovell brings a special jazz trumpet flare to “Pencil Thin.”  

The show is punctuated with an anthemic and beachy take on Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long.” The cover was a staple of the Lounging at the Lagoon tour, only played once outside of 2012/2013 with beautiful horns and Nadirah Shakoor supporting on vocals. 

Two encores round out the night. The first catches Mac McAnally taking on “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” before Jimmy Returns to vocals for “Fins.” The second encore is truly something special with a rare tour appearance of “When The Coast is Clear.”  It’s a wild and fun Mardi Gras week show from down in the Gulf. Pour your margarita and get ready because we’ve got Nothin’ But Time this Saturday night. 

If you can’t make the livestream or want to re-live the experience, this show and every concert from the Nothin’ But Time Virtual Tour will be added to the nugs.net streaming video library for subscribers. For more info and to start a free trial, head to nugs.net/buffett.