Impassioned purveyors of spiritualized dance music, The Nth Power makes a beeline straight for the soul. The torrid trio defies expectation and eschews industry norms, enjoying a profound emotional connection with fans that probes far deeper than surface levels.
“We want to be the biggest band on the planet, you know what I mean?” declares drummer Nikki Glaspie, co-founder of The Nth Power. “Who doesn’t want that for their band? But even more so, we want to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”
Celebrating their 10th anniversary in 2022, The Nth Power is an anomaly in today’s musical landscape: a band whose mission is completely predicated on the healing power of music, and the concept of spreading love through song. Striving to be a genre-bending outfit, the unit thrives in the live setting, searing stages without sacrificing a modicum of integrity nor authenticity.
Infusing an amalgam of rooted elements — funk, soul, R&B, gospel, jazz and folklore — into their mellifluous elixir, The Nth Power’s infectious exploits have been described as “psychedelic church music wrapped up in heavy metal soul.”
A decade into the game, this has proven to be an accurate assessment of sorts. Born as a quartet, swelling to a five-piece and eventually distilling to a tectonic trio, The Nth Power is on a prodigal path of righteousness, spreading joy, numbing pain, and making people dance their chaos away.
“The majority of our songwriting incorporates ideas that are both spiritual and timeless in equal measure,” says Nick Cassarino, guitarist/vocalist/co-founder of the ever-blossoming crew he leads with Glaspie and Nate Edgar (bass).
Riding high on the heels of 2021’s critically acclaimed full-length LP Reverence, The Nth Power is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. Ably assisted by luminaries like Maceo Parker, Dumpstaphunk’s Ivan Neville, Nick Daniels III, and late, great mentor Kofi Burbridge, Reverence was nearly four years in the making, and reflects a leveling up in their writing, a band stepping into their maturity.
“We learned so much from being around Kofi,” laments bassist Edgar, ruminating on the memories of the dearly-departed keyboardist/flutist, who passed away in 2019 after a long illness. “Kofi taught us about ‘oneness’ — in the music, and just with each other as a unit, as a family. He showed us a lot, and we loved hanging out with Kofi. We miss him every day.”
With ten years now in the rearview mirror, there’s quite a bit to look back on along The Nth Power’s fantastic voyage thus far. It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride, not without its diversions and disappointment, trials and tribulations. Yet theirs is ultimately a thunder of triumph, a story told in music, art, community, family, and something bigger than the individuals making sounds onstage or those soaking them up in the audience.
Glaspie, Cassarino, and Edgar can trace their humble roots back to fertile Crescent City soil. The Nth Power famously first coalesced at the Maple Leaf Bar, way uptown in New Orleans, in May 2012 during one of the marathon all nighters that go down at Jazz Fest after dark. The well-worn origin story tells that the founding members were booked to perform in something of an all-star crew behind Jennifer Hartswick, the trumpet player and vocalist best known from Trey Anastasio Band.
An electrifying frontman and guitarist, Cassarino had been working with Hartswick since their days in the Green Mountain State; the jazz-schooled guitarist a contributor to various incarnations of her solo band. Cassarino has always wielded a bit of punk rock energy with his mojo; he’d also rocked with golden-era emcee Big Daddy Kane, as part of live hip-hop ensemble The Lifted Crew.
Glaspie is a veteran of several iconic bands over the past two decades; in the early 2000s she first hit the jam scene with funk-sax hero Sam Kinninger. Soon the powerhouse was drafted to drive the beats for Beyonce’s all-female backing band Suga Mama for five years. In the dizzying tailwind of numerous world tours with the R&B superstar, Glaspie jetted down to the Bayou to power the slammin’ grooves of Dumpstaphunk, Ivan Neville’s greasy New Orleans institution.
Glaspie’s connection with Hartswick also dated back nearly a decade; when the drummer first approached the then-fledgling trumpet star on her home turf in Vermont, she inquired where to find some cannabis. Glaspie scored no smoke but made an important new friend, one who would call her for a gig that would swiftly change her career trajectory and her life.
A multi-hued stylist on the bass guitar, Edgar is a virtuoso steeped in the fertile 90s/early 00s jam scene of the Northeast, most notably logging time with Groovechild and seminal American reggae band John Brown’s Body. Rather serendipitously, Edgar got the call from Glaspie and dropped everything to decamp to New Orleans and shred tunes for the Hartswick late-night performance at the Maple Leaf.
On that fateful first night the three musicians were also joined by Nigel Hall, a talented keyboardist/vocalist and Lettuce/Soulive affiliate who’d recently relocated to New Orleans. In a matter of moments, the group would gel together mightily, and quickly prove adept at pushing grooves deep into the night, as is custom down there at that time of year.
Yet as early as soundcheck before the gig, there was a certain spark in the air, an undeniable electricity between these seasoned players. Almost immediately, the four musicians realized there was something more profound within their midst.
“We sorta knew that there was something there, almost right away. This was a connection that felt different. It felt powerful,” reflects Edgar, remembering the band’s somewhat spontaneous inception. “It felt like… us.”
Glaspie too felt the pull of something spectacular, and she left the bold-font bookings of Dumpstaphunk behind to start over at square one with a new vision called The Nth Power. She was willing to forgo sure-shot opportunities and a measure of security in this business to build something brand new, because she believed in it — and it was the band’s to grow from the ground up.
“You only get one life… at least that we know of. And we don’t actually get a lot of time in this life. The time that we spend here…is extremely valuable,” said Glaspie. “Each of us knew, like, right away that we had to do this.”
With that magical onstage alchemy established, The Nth Power was born to the world.
When they first announced embarkation, the band was swiftly branded a “supergroup” side project, something they themselves may have initially considered. However it didn’t take long for the inspired group to refocus their attention wholly on this newly-divine endeavor.
In its infancy, The Nth Power channeled the grown and sexy vibes, wielding a fiery passion for funky R&B, touching on everything from Frankie Beverly & Maze to Earth Wind & Fire and Steely Dan to disco-era Four Tops. All of the classics were interpreted with an effortless swagger native to this assembly and their captivating sonic brew.
The first handful of original Nth joints set a blueprint for what this band’s early sound would reveal: spirituality, sensuality, and unpredictability. Cassarino immediately stepped up with intricate, intimate songs, soon markedly enhanced by the cosmic contributions of his new bandmates. The squadron stopped at nothing to learn them inside and out, each adding their own specialized sauce to the stew.
Weedie Braimah was the next to join the fold, hopping onboard in 2013. The renowned djembefola and percussionist proved a mighty addition; Braimah propelled the band’s ample musical and geographical wingspan to expand even wider. Vintage R&B jams were electro-charged with undercurrents powered by ancient African rhythms and drum languages. The Nth Power revealed oscillating, layered multi-part vocal harmonies, embedding them within their songs alongside funky jazz chords and uplifting invocations.
Thanks to Braimah, a 100-plus generation ancestral djembe master, The Nth Power began to incorporate polyrhythmic elements to their gospelized gumbo, stunning elitist purists and hooking wide-eared funkateers alike. Some of the band’s ambitious, nascent explorations can be heard on their debut EP Basic Minimum Skills Test, released independently in 2013.
“We’re not building rockets over here, so it’s OK to veer off the usual path. Extending solos and going wherever feels natural in the moment onstage. Each composition has certain sections where we can flex in terms of improvisation. But, for the most part, we try to convey a complete idea and tell a whole story through a song,” Cassarino explains.
When tensions flared within and Hall departed in 2015, The Nth Power added keyboardist Courtney Smith to the fold, plucked from Braimah’s St. Louis-based contingent Kreative Pandemonium. With this change of personnel, their original songs and improvisational styles took a turn for the folkloric, incorporating more traditional and international influences to the recalescent tunes.
Braimah left the group the following year rather amicably; he sought to pursue The Hands of Time, his own international all-star band curated in the folkloric tradition. Keys wiz Smith stayed on a while longer; The Nth Power continued to push the envelope on debut full length LP Abundance, released in 2016. This quartet configuration took ample advantage of Smith’s prominent church influence, as well as his sturdy R&B chops and elastic vocal range.
The Nth Power trucked onward and upward with their patented brand of gospelized funk and throwback soul, while occasionally traversing toward the quiet storm of the 80s. This stylistic cross-section is best heard on vibrant live record Live to Be Free, released in 2017.
Regardless of who is onstage alongside Glaspie, Edgar, and Cassarino — and these days it’s often just the power trio alone — The Nth Power still brings its stirring spirituality to the stage. The band’s aspirational medicine music continues to offer an opportunity for fans to receive something more profound than just a beat to boogie to.
“Throughout our time as a band, the intention has always been to put a focus on the healing power of music,” Edgar concurs. The Nth Power’s impassioned live shows are often so gripping that audience members regularly break out in tears.
“We want to make music for people to dance to. Because not everybody wants to come to a show and start crying,” Cassarino admits. “I love it when people cry, because it means we’ve touched them deeply. But we also want them to have fun, too.”
In addition to the rather unavoidable emotional quotient pulsating through their performances, the energy and messages within reveal an optional pathway for one to connect – or reconnect- with something bigger than ourselves, whatever that may mean to the individual. The Nth Power’s music is reverberating with such connection, yet devoid of any religious-type dogma, preaching, or judgements.
“There’s Spirit swirling all around us, and as a band, we’re in touch with that,” Glaspie says. “We all believe in different things, but we all believe in something that’s more important than the physical realm. And it’s in the music.”
In addition to a catalog of scintillating original music, the group’s smattering of heavenly tributes to the likes of Earth Wind & Fire, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Steely Dan, Nirvana, and Marvin Gaye have raised the bar considerably for concerts of this kind. (The Nth Power’s 2018 Nirvana tribute show is now streaming on nugs.net.) Most often performed in New Orleans during Jazz Fest, or at assorted summer camping festivals around the country, The Nth Power’s trademark tribute sets have leveled up what’s possible in this capacity.
Each concert is performed by a custom-curated ensemble of some of the finest players in the game. The faithful fashion in which they inhabit the legendary artists they’re covering — and the spirit of their songs — enables the band to reimagine iconic songbooks with a verve and panache that belies their relative youth.
A prime example of this peerless tribute prowess can be heard on their live release Rebel Music: A Tribute to the Message of Bob Marley, an invigorating gallop through a smattering of Nesta’s most inspired cuts.
In April 2022 The Nth Power unveiled a different look, taking the hallowed Amphitheater Stage at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park on a joyride through the annals of jam-rock history as part of the unprecedented The Nth Power Ball. In May, the group is bringing back the famed Earth, Wind & Power set with a new lineup for Jazz Fest 2022.
Yet the current day focus of The Nth Power is the core trio of OGs: Glapsie, Cassarino, and Edgar; a rock-solid musical family who’ve persevered through adversity without condition nor reservation. Each player continues to elevate their game with each emotionally-resonant chapter of their story.
A living, breathing organism, The Nth Power has taken numerous shapes and iterations over their unique evolution as a band. They’ve added and subtracted players, mounted all-star ensembles, performed and reunited in various lineups and incarnations. The extended musical family has become something of a collective.
“It’s interesting to see how the band has shifted, evolved. We’ve taken all these different ebbs, flows and turns through our career,” notes Edgar.
In recent years, Glapsie, Cassarino and Edgar have found their way back to working with Hall and Braimah, reuniting as The Original Nth Power for select engagements and unearthing several long-shelved classics from the early days.
“We’re like a family,” the bassist continues. “And you might have an estranged bro or something, but they’re gonna hopefully come back sometime, you know what I mean? And we get to hang out again and play music again.”
The Nth Power loves you. They tell you so all the time, the message is in the music. Ten years in, it still feels like they’ve only just begun. Thank you for the light.
B.Getz is a music-culture reporter and podcaster hailing from the Philly area who’s called northern California home for nearly a decade. Senior Correspondent at Live For Live Music, longtime contributor to JamBase, formerly with Everfest/Fest300, and host of The Upful LIFE Podcast — check out all things B.Getz at www.UpfulLife.com
If you’re a nugs.net subscriber, chances are you already love live music. As it turns out, though, live music loves you back. In recent years, study after study has shown that concerts have a huge impact on physical and mental health. The health benefits of live music range from physical to mental: Concerts reduce stress, release happy hormones like oxytocin and dopamine, improve brain function and longevity, provide essential social connection, and even relieve pain. Essentially, your live music habit is really, really good for you.
Concerts are a communal experience
Sociologist Émile Durkheim coined the term “collective effervescence” to describe the sense of communal energy and shared emotion people feel when they come together for a single purpose. Before public spaces were shut down at the onset of the pandemic, these moments were baked into our everyday lives; in one study, the majority of people reported experiencing collective effervescence weekly, or even daily. We went to live concerts, sports events, movie theaters, and crowded bars, all of which provided us with connection and some kind of common purpose. Those activities spark a unique kind of connected joy and fulfill our need for belonging in a way that studio albums or binge-in-your-own-time TV series simply can’t replicate. Even as many aspects of our lives return to some version of pre-COVID normalcy, it is necessary to actively seek out these experiences in a way that it wasn’t before, whether by watching live sports, going to the movies, or, of course, streaming a live concert.
Live music benefits physical health
Psychology and sociology researchers are increasingly interested in the impact of the arts on health and, more specifically, the impact of live music on physical health. Studies show that live concerts reduce the release of cortisol, the stress hormone which controls our body’s responses to stress (sustained spikes in cortisol are linked to heart disease and diabetes). Researchers also noticed that participants had reduced blood pressure and heart rate after experiencing live music. Live music experiences can even act as a natural pain management method; concerts can relieve physical pain by triggering the release of endorphins, which reduces a person’s perception of pain, or even intercepting pain signals before they reach the brain.
Live concerts improve mental health
There are significant benefits of live music on mental health. One study shows that “engaging with music” — which the researchers in this case defined as dancing or attending a concert — leads to an overall sense of well-being, with participants reporting improved mood and a sense of connection to others.Concerts are a unique opportunity to experience both music and social interaction. There’s a neurochemical connection between music and mental health with hugely positive impacts. Live music has been shown to trigger the release of oxytocin — improving our senses of vitality, companionship, and trust — as well as dopamine. Music in general has even been prescribed to treat depression and improve mood and fine motor control in patients with Parkinson’s disease. One study even described live music as “better for your mental health than yoga.” Hormonal and chemical shifts aside, music creates space for emotional expression and processing beyond what we’re able to put into words.
Live music improves brain function
Listening to live or new music also challenges the brain — it has to work to understand a new sound — acting as a workout for the brain. Music improves creativity, memory, alertness, and clarity, and live music has been linked to improved cognitive function in patients with dementia. When looking at subjects’ brain activity in MRI scans, researchers found that music activates more areas of the brain than even language; in fact, in early development, babies start processing music before they can process speech. Studies have shown that listening to music releases brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes neurogenesis: the growth of new neurons. Essentially, listening to music, recorded or live, keeps your brain young.
People who regularly experience live music boost their creativity and cognitive abilities; reduce stress hormone levels while increasing the production of endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin; experience consistent social connection or “collective effervescence; and even live longer (up to nine years longer, in fact).
The Tunnel of Love tour again? That’s surely a sentiment some are expressing with this month’s release of New York 5/16/88, the outstanding opening night performance from the final, five-show stand on the US leg of the 1988 tour.
On the surface the POV is understandable, as most shows on the Tunnel of Love Express Tour shared the same narrative arc and core songs. However beautifully realized it was, the argument goes, how distinctive is one Tunnel show from another?
It’s curious that 1988 comes in for such carping when one of Bruce’s most-beloved tours, in support of Darkness on the Edge of Town ten years earlier, followed a similar formula, largely sticking to a consistent group of songs for the core set, augmented by select cover versions and rarities that made a particular show extra special.
Both tours showcased a trove of material not found on Springsteen’s studio albums. In 1988, that included originals “Be True,” “Seeds,” “Part Man, Part Monkey,” “Light of Day,” and “I’m a Coward,” the latter a (nearly) complete rewrite of Geno Washington’s “Geno Is a Coward.” Bruce played those five songs across the US tour. But as the Express rolled on, cover songs—most entirely new to Springsteen setlists—began to appear, seemingly out of nowhere. But behind the scenes, their origin was part of the 1988 journey all along.
While the ’88 main set stayed consistent over the tour’s first two months, Bruce and the band operated as a virtual jukebox during their afternoon soundchecks,, test-driving dozens of cover songs. Eventually, some graduated from these private rehearsals to the main set.
These pre-show performances were explorations of the music Bruce and the band—and importantly, the horn section—grew up on or newly admired. Long soundchecks, like those that took place in Atlanta, Tacoma, and New York, were practically mini-concerts played for their own enjoyment.
On opening night at Madison Square Garden, cover songs born in soundchecks ultimately tip the show from good to great. Now released in brilliant, multi-track audio with one very special bonus track, in the immortal words of Nigel Tufnel, MSG Night One “goes to 11.”
John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” is the first cover of the night, newly added to the set two shows prior in Minneapolis. Gritty guitar and horns combine to give “Boom Boom” swagger, and its inclusion feels topical given the subject matter (“take you in my arms, I’m in love with you”). Bruce tosses in a long, bonus “make loooove” to eliminate any ambiguity.
Between “Boom Boom” and the first set’s other cover, Edwin Starr’s depressingly still-appropriate “War ” we are treated to a number of terrific performances. “Adam Raised a Cain,” reborn in 1988, offers a weighty lead vocal, including a fresh exchange with Nils towards the end. Bruce’s guitar work at the top of “Adam” and later in the solo are fiery, and the horns raise the drama to arena level. “Two Faces” is thoughtfully rendered and thematically resonant, as is “Cover Me”: Bruce dips into lyrics from the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” declaring “I need a little shelter now,” “It’s just a kiss away,” and his own revealing improvisation, “I can’t see no sunshine.” Not surprisingly given the circumstances we get an especially earnest “Brilliant Disguise,” too.
The cracking first set ends with another epic “Born in the U.S.A.,” played at a seemingly pacier tempo and loaded with emotive guitar soloing, synthesizer pitch-wheel bending, and a nifty bit of Max Weinberg cymbal pinging between channels as Bruce’s voice rises to sing, “I’ve got a picture of him in her arms.”
The second set keeps pace with the first, and while there are no surprises per se (those are still to come), the band is playing at their 1988 peak. For highlights, first among equals is “Walk Like a Man,” making its second full-band appearance in the Archive series and sounding more vivid and widescreen than the version captured in Detroit in March. The arrangement features what might be the best work by the Horns of Love of the entire tour. While everyone in the band is playing brilliantly, Garry Tallent’s bass gives the song a lush bed on which the other instrumentation flourishes. It’s a stunner.
The encores on the 1988 tour were consistently strong, and the addition of “Have Love, Will Travel” by The Sonics delightfully balances the Memphis soul of “Raise Your Hand” and “Sweet Soul Music” with Northwest garage rock. “Have Love” is another song that graduated from the encore to the main set, and for the night’s most special moment, Bruce played that hand again.
“I’m gonna do a song now that’s a favorite song of mine,” he says. “I don’t sing it as good as the guy that originally sang it, but I like it a lot, and this is my night in the big room. I just love this song.”
What follows is a majestic, reverent, and perfectly arranged rendition of Roy Oribson’s “Crying.” Optimized for his vocal range, the performance features Springsteen singing with stunning control. What Orbison brings the song in soaring, operatic notes, Bruce makes up for with power and conviction. What a treat to add it to the master song list of the Live Archive series.
It’s no surprise that Bruce was feeling triumphant at the end of the night, and his band commemorates the moment in the most Big Apple way possible, playing an instrumental “New York, New York” for his walk-off music.
“New York, New York” was the last song of the 5/16/88 show, but it isn’t the final track on this release. We’re gifted a glimpse into those legendary soundtracks with the inclusion of “In Dreams,” recorded pre-show.
Bruce’s Orbison bonafides were well established even before participating in the television tribute special A Black and White Night, shot in September 1987. He had explored The Big O’s music in soundchecks for weeks leading up to New York City. The only E Street Band performances of “Crying” appeared during this MSG run, but “In Dreams” never even made it to the show.
The Archive has been fortunate to feature two other songs from 1988 soundchecks, “For You Love” from 5/23 and “Reason to Believe” from 3/28. But “In Dreams,” perhaps the most mystical song in the Orbison canon, feels most like we’ve snuck into the venue early and heard something only intended for the musicians on stage. What a treat. When “In Dreams” finishes, Bruce offers a self-review of their performance that I won’t spoil, but you’re sure to smile as I did.
The first night at Madison Square Garden in 1988 is an outstanding Tunnel of Love performance and, better still, a previously unheard and worthy homage to one of the biggest musical influences in Springsteen’s career.
Introducing Exclusive Concert Livestreams for nugs.net Subscribers
We’re excited to announce our newest feature — Subscriber Exclusive Livestreams. In addition to unlimited streaming of our massive, unrivaled catalog of music including over 25,000 official live concert recordings and 100s of full video-on-demand concerts in HD and 4K, subscribers will now have special access to an exclusive slate of free livestreams and performances included with their subscription service. With this incredible, new benefit, paid subscribers will have a front row seat to watch their favorite artists perform live from anywhere in the world, at no extra cost.
Billy Strings Live at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN
We’ve teamed up with GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician Billy Strings to offer subscribers exclusive access to Strings’ three-night run of shows from Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on May 6, 7, & 8. An ongoing slate of iconic, genre-spanning performances will be announced over the next few weeks, including not-to-be-missed concerts streaming live from Tipitina’s JazzFest in New Orleans, Philadelphia’s Ardmore Music Hall, and Colorado’s iconic Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Sign up to access nugs.net’s growing lineup of Subscriber Exclusive Livestreams at nugs.net/exclusive.
nugs.net is thrilled to announce exciting new additions to its catalog of live concert recordings.
Over the past two decades, pioneer live music streaming platform nugs.nethas evolved into the leading source for official live concert recordings from the largest touring artists in the world. With an ever-expanding digital archive of more than 25,000 concerts and hundreds of on-demand videos of full shows from marquee acts like Metallica, Pearl Jam, The Rolling Stones, Dead & Company, and Phish, nugs.net provides music fans VIP access to their favorite concerts anytime, anywhere. Throughout April, nugs.net is adding an iconic, genre-spanning collection of new artists and live concert recordings to their massive, unrivaled streaming library, including an epic selection of new and archival shows from Jack White, DARKSIDE, Pixies and more.
Jack White’s Supply Chain Issues Tour Concert Audio
On the heels of releasing his eagerly awaited new album, FEAR OF THE DAWN, Jack White kicked off his Supply Chain Issues Tour last week with two sold-out shows at Detroit’s Masonic Temple Theatre. The tour, which features White’s first headline shows in four years, will make 50+ stops across North America, Europe, and the United Kingdom through late August. In partnership with nugs.net, White will offer official soundboard audio from every stop on the tour, available to stream exclusively via nugs.net here: nugs.net/jackwhite. Of the new partnership, Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell shares, “While we’ve been recording all Jack White live shows for years, only now did it finally feel right to release all of them quickly after the performance. And with nugs.net as our partner…we couldn’t be happier with the results.”
Six Epic Sets from Psychedelic Duo DARKSIDE
Beginning today, music fans around the globe can enjoy full-length concerts from DARKSIDE, the psychedelic collaboration between electronic producer Nicolas Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington, who have partnered with nugs.net to bring two visually driven, atmospheric performances, as well as official soundboard audio from five epic concerts to the platform’s extensive streaming catalog for the first time. Watch DARKSIDE’s intimate sunset show overlooking the Manhattan skyline, Psychic Live set at Stereolux in Nantes, and more streaming exclusively on nugs.net here: nugs.net/DARKSIDE.
26 Pixies Archive Concert Recordings
Alt-rock icons Pixies also join nugs.net this month. 26 full-length concerts from the archives, including recordings from 1991 and the band’s 2004 reunion tour, will be available to stream on April 21 at nugs.net/thepixies. All shows feature the band’s original lineup: frontman Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal, and drummer David Lovering. Highlights include Pixies’ first show in 11 years at the intimate Fine Line in Minneapolis, a performance on the mainstage at Coachella, and a 2004 sold-out, four-night run at Brixton Academy in London.
Immersive 360 Reality Audio
Throughout the month, nugs.net will continue to bring the live concert experience to music lovers worldwide. Stream iconic performances and classic albums by David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Janis Joplin in immersive 360 Reality Audio, which brings the electricity of live music and the energy of a crowd to you like never before. Experience exclusive live recordings from the Bruce Springsteen Archives, like The Roxy ’75, as if you were in the room with the E Street Band on the Born to Run Tour. Listen to the classic Jefferson Airplane Volunteers album the way it sounded in the studio, and hear David Gilmour play “Wish You Were Here” with the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra like you’re in the crowd of 50,000 fans. For more information and to start listening visit: try.nugs.net/360.
nugs.net is excited to stream selected shows and albums in immersive 360 Reality Audio, which brings the electricity of live music and the energy of a crowd to you like never before. Using spatial audio technology, 360 Reality Audio captures vocals, instruments, and the sounds of a live audience and brings them to you in spherical sound.
Stream iconic performances and classic albums by David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Janis Joplin on the nugs.net app. Experience exclusive live recordings from the Bruce Springsteen Archives, like The Roxy ’75, as if you were in the room with the E Street Band on the Born to Run Tour. Listen to the classic Jefferson Airplane Volunteers album the way it sounded in the studio, and hear David Gilmour play “Wish You Were Here” with the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra like you’re in the crowd of 50,000 fans.
Each recording is also streaming in stereo for our Premium subscribers, and select concert videos have been newly mixed with 360 Reality Audio sound for the first time ever and are now streaming on demand.
Every Saturday, nugs.net founder Brad Serling broadcasts a handpicked show in full on Concert of the Week, his new show on nugs.net radio (SiriusXM 716). Up next on April 9 at 8 pm ET: The Revivalists‘ Key West show in 2019. Hear the New Orleans-based roots band, known for electric live shows (and a super-passionate fan base), play a set spanning their first four albums following the release of 2018’s Take Good Care.
nugs.net is excited to be working with SiriusXM to make live music even more accessible to fans across the country. Listen to nugs.net radio on SiriusXM Channel 716 for new live recordings and full concerts from Billy Strings, Dead & Company, Pearl Jam, and more. In addition to the Saturday 8 pm ET Concert of the Week, Brad also broadcasts The Weekly Live Stash, which he’d previously hosted for a decade on SiriusXM’s JamOn, on Fridays at 5 pm with a curated mix of recent live shows.
In case you missed this week’s Weekly Live Stash, nugs.net subscribers can stream Brad’s playlist on demand:
The supergroup Golden Smog was first formed in Minneapolis in 1989. The band was always seen as a rotating cast of musical characters from the Midwest dedicated to alternative country and superior songwriting and has included members of all your favorite bands: Big Star, The Replacements, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Wilco, and more. They have put out four records as Golden Smog since 1995 and hadn’t performed live since 2019.
These Golden Smog reunion shows were originally scheduled for April of 2020 but were obviously postponed due to the pandemic. Over the weekend, Golden Smog got back together for two nights to perform at Minneapolis’s legendary First Avenue with Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Gary Louris & Marc Perlman from The Jayhawks, Dan Murphy from Soul Asylum, Kraig Johnson, and Jody Stephens from Big Star.
Night one, Saturday, April 2nd, had the band take the stage in great spirits to open with “Looking Forward To Seeing You” from 1998’s Weird Tales. The band sounded great together; a bunch of old pals getting back together like they were high schoolers in a garage (except with probably combined 50+ years of touring experience under their belts).
The charm of Golden Smog comes down to everyone taking turns at the mic. Like a Gen X Traveling Wilburys, it’s exciting to hear Louris sing a cover of David Bowie’s “Starman” before Tweedy goes right into “Walk Where He Walked.” The encore on night one started with Tweedy & Louris as a duo singing “Radio King” from Down By The Old Mainstream.
Night two featured similar setlists with some important differences: Different covers were performed each night (night one had the Brian Wilson classic “Love And Mercy” and night two includes a take on The Kinks’ “Strangers”). Both nights featured Jeff Tweedy’s son, Sammy, joining for a cover of Neil Young’s “Helpless”. To have these old friends back together, playing this music that is absolutely timeless, has got to be one of life’s most special gifts. To quote “Radio King”:
“Your music fills my car And your voice breaks every time I’m still wonderin’ If I know who you are I hang on every line”
Setlist (Night 1): Looking Forward to Seeing You Lost Love To Call My Own V Yesterday Cried Glad & Sorry (Faces cover) Red Headed Stepchild Starman (David Bowie cover) Walk Where He Walked He’s a Dick Pecan Pie Ill Fated Long Time Ago Signed D.C. (Love cover) I Can’t Keep From Talking Won’t Be Coming Home You Make It Easy Love and Mercy (Brian Wilson cover) If I Only Had a Car Corvette
Encore: Radio King Listen Joe Helpless (Neil Young cover) (Sammy Tweedy on lead vocals) Until You Came Along
Setlist (Night 2): Looking Forward to Seeing You Lost Love To Call My Own V Making Waves Glad & Sorry (Faces cover) Red Headed Stepchild All the Same to Me Easy to Be Hard (Galt MacDermot cover) Frying Pan Eyes Listen Joe Long Time Ago Pecan Pie You Make It Easy Ill Fated Strangers (The Kinks cover) Scotch on Ice She Don’t Have to See You Won’t Be Coming Home I Can’t Keep From Talking If I Only Had a Car
Encore: Please Tell My Brother Radio King Helpless (Neil Young cover) (with Sammy Tweedy) Until You Came Along (with Sammy Tweedy)
Though Springsteen’s 1992-93 World Tour ran a full calendar year, his first outing sans E Street Band carried the sense of a perpetual work in progress for good reason.
Bruce had not one but two albums’ worth of material to integrate from Human Touch and Lucky Town; a challenging balance to strike between familiar and new material; and a bigger, rootsy-er band attempting to hold its own in the shadow of E Street, but from which he could summon the magical vocal power of a gospel choir. As my friend Aaron would say, a tricky biscuit.
The previous Archive release from this tour, Boston 12/13/92, featured 16 songs from the new companion albums. Five months later in Berlin, the main set shifted significantly, as nine songs from Human Touch and Lucky Town are joined by 14 “classics” (six culled from Born in the U.S.A.), five covers, plus a four-song acoustic appetizer to open the show, a unique design feature of the European gigs.
What the result lacks in narrative cohesion it makes up for in distinct, compelling moments as Bruce—alone, and with his new (save for Roy Bittan) companions—walks an alternate musical path through it all. Berlin 5/14/93 serves as an exemplar of the unique period that was Europe ’93.
As the lone keyboard player on the 1992-93 tour, Bittan does a lot of heavy lifting. A greater-than-usual reliance on synthesizers, primarily via Roy’s Yamaha DX7 (the first widely adopted digital synth), is akin to Max Weinberg’s drum triggers on the back half of the Born in the U.S.A. tour.
Both belong to a specific place and time in the sonic landscape, because they are so prominent in the live mix of their respective eras, they can feel obtrusive by today’s standards. If you find yourself bumping on Roy’s DX7, recalibrate your modern ears—this is the sound of 1992-93.
Berlin opens with something we can all agree on: a wonderful, four-song acoustic set that commences with the Christic Institute arrangements of “Darkness on the Edge of Town” and “Adam Raised a Cain.” How thrilling it must have been to see these solo performances in their striking new renditions, and Bruce was just getting started.
The world premiere of “Satan’s Jeweled Crown” follows, with Bruce joined by the backup singers who emphasize the church-pew side of the “country-gospel song” first popularized by the Louvin Brothers. The stately hymn only appeared in the set six times, five in Europe in 1993, making this a rare and welcome addition to the Live Archive series.
If those three tunes to start weren’t enough, how about the shorts-soiling inclusion of unreleased-at-the-time BIUSA outtake “This Hard Land”? When met with a knowing cheer, Bruce responds, “Yeah, you bought the bootlegs. You shouldn’t have done it.” The song was still two years away from its official release on Greatest Hits In 1995, so for hardcore fans, “This Hard Land” in the show was a holy grail.
As noted above, Springsteen taps his classic catalog further in Berlin than he did in 1992, with some tracks translating off E Street more successfully than others. The choir vocals of the backup singers bring a soulful sweetness to songs like “Hungry Heart” and “Working on the Highway.” The 1992-93 band always nails “Badlands” and does here, too.
A spare take of “The River,” which the audience greets with an enormous cheer, is the vocal highlight. Bruce sings it fresh, poignant, and true above Bittan’s gorgeous piano. The peak comes with the trio of “Downbound Train,” “Because the Night,” and “Brilliant Disguise.” The last of these offers unexpectedly intriguing guitar from Shane Fontayne, while Bruce himself tears off a steamy solo in “Because the Night,” which also gains gravitas from the vocalists.
But there’s no mistaking the rise in Bruce’s enthusiasm when he moves from songs like “Atlantic City” and “My Hometown” to Human Touch/Lucky Town material like “Man’s Job” and “Leap of Faith.” Vocal inflection and energy signal his commitment, and, to a song, the recent additions have strong outings in Berlin, with fine performances of “Better Days,” “Lucky Town,” “Human Touch,” and the elegiac, underrated encore high point, “My Beautiful Reward.”
The one place where old and new combine to stirring effect is the denouement coupling of “Souls of the Departed” and “Born in the U.S.A.,” framed by several Jimi Hendrix-inspired bars of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” With Roy Bittan triggering news soundbites of troubles, domestic and foreign, these parallel stories of the human toll taken by such conflicts form one seamless, biting statement that lands harder than anything else in the show.
Bruce’s choice of covers also confers deep resonance on the Berlin performance. The aforementioned “Satan’s Jeweled Crown” is a God-fearing, serious tune and sits right at the intersection of the church and the Opry. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” and “Rockin’ All Over the World” are familiar fare, yet always welcome, especially with big gospel voices adding layers of soul. Those voices come up even bigger on Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross,” presented in straightforward and powerful fashion. It was one of the consistent highlights of these 1993 concerts.
Speaking of resurrections, after four sterling performances on 1988’s Tunnel of Love Express Tour, Springsteen brought “Across the Borderline” back into four 1993 setlists, the last of which was Berlin. The song is most closely associated with Ry Cooder, who wrote it with John Hiatt and Jim Dickson. Like Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl,” “Across the Borderline” is a leading candidate for the most Springsteen-esque song Bruce has covered but didn’t write. The Berlin version is blessed with the heartfelt vocals of Gia Ciambotti, Carol Dennis, Cleopatra Kennedy, Bobby King, and Angel Rogers, who bring majesty to a predominantly synthesizer- and guitar-led arrangement.
Such 1993 highpoints surely inspired Springsteen to combine the best of both worlds in 2012 as the Wrecking Ball tour brought E Street Band and E Street Choir together. In fact, “Many Rivers to Cross” featured in the last warm-up gig in Austin before the start of the proper Wrecking Ball tour.
Work-in-progress or not, the 1993 European tour, as captured on a May night in Berlin, remains a fascinating exploration of Bruce’s wide, musical aperture, especially when seen as the antecedent for some of what was to come.
Trouble No More is picking up where the Allman Brothers Band left off. The new group celebrating the Allmans will play their debut this weekend at the Beacon Theater in New York, where the Allman Brothers played some of their most special shows and performed for the last time in 2014. The two-night run on March 25th & 26th falls 53 years exactly from the Allman Brothers’ first rehearsal and marks the 50th anniversary of their 1972 album Eat a Peach.
Booking agent CJ Strock, who represented ABB for many years, pulled the band together. Named for the Muddy Waters cover that started the Allman Brothers’ career, Trouble No More is fittingly founded on another sibling duo, guitarist Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and bassist Dylan Niederauer, who are eager to keep up their idols’ tradition of electric live shows. Peter Levin, who played keyboard with the Gregg Allman Band, is on board and Lamar Williams, Jr., whose father was the Allman Brothers’ bassist for several years, will lead vocals. Trouble No More also features guitarist and singer Daniel Donato, drummer Jack Ryan, pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier, and drummer Nikki Glaspie from The Nth Power.
Trouble No More’s Friday night show is sold out, but tickets are still available for Saturday night, which marks the 53 year anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band’s very first rehearsal together on March 26, 1969. Follow @nugsnet on Twitter for a chance to win front row seats for Saturday, March 26th at the Beacon Theater!
Wilco is a band. Wilco (The Album) is a record by the band Wilco. Released in June of 2009, Wilco’s self-referential seventh studio album brought Wilco (The Tour) to about 140 cities throughout ‘09 and ‘10, including a stop at Victoria, British Columbia’s Royal Theatre (Capacity: 1,416) on February 12th, 2010.
The Chicago band, led by singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy, has always been notorious for riotous live shows that tow the line between full-hearted American rock and roll with jammy interludes and a sweet, sensitive delicacy that always promotes musicianship. This show at the Royal Theatre shows Wilco at the peak of their powers; a band that has found their groove that they will ride all the way to present day, and they haven’t lost a step since. Listening back twelve years later, and you can hear this beloved rock act delivering the goods to a crowd that truly cares.
The show opens with “Wilco (The Song)”, the album’s (and band’s) title track. “Wilco love you, baby” winks the chorus, with a proto-Siri styled voice announcing the band members to the crowd: “On bass, John Stirratt; on keys, Mikael Jorgensen; multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone; on drums, Glenn Kotche; on guitars, Nels Cline; & and on lead vocals and guitar, Jeff Tweedy.
“Ladies & Gentlemen, Wilco.”
Wilco immediately follows up with the bombastic opener from their classic 2002 record Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.” In comes the noise, in comes the drums, in comes the acoustic guitar. “I am an American aquarium drinker,” sings Tweedy over a cacophony of whirling guitars, and the show is on. “What was I thinking when I said…” is answered by an ecstatic fan:
In 2010, Wilco was at the point of their career where every song, including deep cuts, felt like a hit parade. Seven albums in and jumping back and forth between the rollicking jam “Bull Black Nova” and the total groove of Sky Blue Sky’s “You Are My Face” feels absolutely natural, especially since the band has settled into this natural live setting. Even though the band is known for their ever-changing studio evolution record to record, this six-piece pulls these songs apart and pieces them back together. Perfect example: A song like “A Shot In The Arm,” from 1999’s power pop leaning Summerteeth, retains its sunshine bright harmonies but leans into the darkness a little, especially when played up against the bitter and beautiful “At Least That’s What You Said.”
Before launching into “Nothing’severgoinastandinmyway(again)”, Tweedy told the audience that Victoria has “Shot up their list of favorite places” and mentioned the only way to get to the city is by boat. This was Wilco’s first time playing in Victoria, BC. The band played at the Paramount Theatre in Seattle two nights before (February 10th, 2010) and at David Lam Park in Vancouver the night after (February 13th).
The communal vibe of this Wilco show was ever present in a “Jesus, Etc.” singalong which Tweedy described as a “litmus test to see if we should come back to a city.” Through laughter, applause, and pure joy heard in the voice of the crowd, you can hear Tweedy’s positive response. “That was good! That was great, that was better than good!”
2010 was a raw and ragged period for the live version of Wilco, and this show presents a portrait of the band hitting their stride and playing loose with the setlist and arrangements. Towards the end of set one, the band knocked all of their “fan favorites” out of the way in a row: a super slick seven minute “Impossible Germany” (“This is the first time Nels ever worn tennis shoes on stage, and I think he just dunked on you guys” – Jeff Tweedy) goes right into a blissful “California Stars.” Wilco is rounding the bases here, it’s all a homerun.
The main set reaches a climax with Wilco (The Album) deep cut “Sonny Feeling,” a spirited jangle doused in sunshine bright harmonies. Tweedy reflects on the hypocrisy of suburbia and sharp wordplay with lines about “mini-mart clerks” and “Eminem’s suburban gangster flow” while the band rockets through a power pop bounce and a classic Nels Cline ripper of a solo. Tweedy sings in an skeptical but optimistic voice,
I’m on my way home
From my high school
I’m always contemplating
Why the kids are still cruel
Oh, the kids are still cruel
Wilco then brings it home with the Beatles-styled strut of Sky Blue Sky’s “Hate It Here” and “Walken”, before closing out with live classic “I’m The Man Who Loves You.” After a brief break and cheering applause, the band returns to the stage with a surprise: a cover of Buffalo Springfield’s epic “Broken Arrow.”
“Broken Arrow”’s construction reflects its title: a fractured tower of razor sharp melodies, masterfully pieced together by one of the few modern bands who could feasibly do it. Wilco’s take is a little heartier than Buffalo Springfield’s original, with Nels Cline’s beefed up guitars and some heavy, soupy layers of synth. It’s cut in the middle with a spirited take on “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” before Tweedy returns with:
Eighteen years of American dream
He saw that his brother had sworn on the wall
He hung up his eyelids and ran down the hall
His mother had told him a trip was a fall
And don’t mention babies at all
Did you see him?
Did you see him?
The first encore closes out with a raging 12-minute “Spiders (Kidsmoke)” and an upbeat “Hummingbird,” both from 2004’s A Ghost Is Born. After an absolutely rousing round of applause, Wilco returned to the stage for a second encore of older classics. “Heavy Metal Drummer” burns right into the one-two punch of “Red-Eyed And Blue” and “I Got You (At The End Of The Century)” from their landmark double LP, Being There.
Wilco is a band aware of their place in the history of American rock and roll, especially when it comes to live music, and they are eternally selfless and courteous to their fans. Going to Wilco show is like hanging out with old friends, and their February 12th, 2010 performance at the Royal Theatre in Victoria, BC is the ultimate hang.
The leading music platform for live concert streams and recordings, nugs.net, has teamed up with SiriusXM to launch an epic, new streaming channel, nugs.net radio, that will bring the live concert experience to music lovers nationwide – listen now on the nugs.net SiriusXM station.
nugs.net radio is available on Channel 716 and includes recent live music, complete concerts, and comprehensive coverage of the world’s biggest touring acts and emerging superstars of the stage. Stay up to date with the latest concert recordings from Pearl Jam, Metallica, Dead & Company, Billy Strings and more.
The new channel also includes weekly speciality programming. Premiering every Friday at 5pm ET, nugs.net founder Brad Serling hosts The Weekly Live Stash, an exclusive show featuring recent highlights from the world of live music, including hand-picked live performances from the past week.
“Launching nugs.net radio on SiriusXM is the culmination of over a decade of work. For ten years I hosted The Weekly Live Stash on SiriusXM JamOn, and I am excited to bring it back to the airwaves on our own channel, nugs.net radio,” Serling shares.
Fans can also tune in every Saturday at 8pm ET to hear the Concert of the Week featuring a live broadcast and full concert recording from nugs.net’s artist partners. The Concert of the Week kicks off this Saturday, March 12 with a live broadcast of a sold-out performance from GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter, and musician Billy Strings from Cincinnati on his ongoing, massive headline tour.
The concert will also be a live 4K Pay-Per-View event on nugs.net as part of the month-long series of performances Strings is streaming live on the platform. Tickets are on-sale now with a selection of purchase options, including a variety of special bundles and packages that include access to shows across multiple nights throughout the month of March. Full ticket and bundle details can be found at nugs.net/BillyStringsLivestream.
The start-to-finish performance of an album in concert, despite having so much in common with the music format so many of us were weaned on, is a far different animal than a listening session with the LP or CD itself.
Great concerts thrive on internal mechanics, intentional peaks and valleys that, when done well, take the audience on a journey. Bruce Springsteen famously crafts that journey through setlist choices, dialing in the dynamics that make his concerts so electrifying, while also creating a narrative arc—more pronounced on some tours than others, but always present in some form—from the opening song to the encore closer.
Playing an album like Born to Run from start to finish inside a concert runs the risk of disrupting that journey. For many Springsteen aficionados, some of his most famous songs, “Thunder Road” and “Born to Run” in particular, have become more associated with their historic places in the set than their slots in the album sequence.
Perhaps that’s precisely what makes hearing Born to Run performed front to back in Cleveland so interesting. Relieved of now-familiar in-concert roles and restored to their original context, the songs of Born to Run shift tone. Their storytelling qualities rise as their anthemic, crowd-pleasing function is stripped. It would go too far to say it’s like hearing the music anew, but a chance for reappreciation? Absolutely.
Though recordings from 2014 have been available, Cleveland 11/10/09 brings the album performance of Born to Run to the Live Archive series for the first time—in the context of the Working on a Dream tour, when he began this particular trick. Springsteen opens the show in a familiar fashion for this part of the 2009 tour, with the defiant statement of “Wrecking Ball,” followed by an edgy “Prove It All Night.” The latter is marked by two fine guitar solos, lively Max Weinberg drum fills, and an emphatic vocal turn from Stevie Van Zandt that buoys Springsteen’s own performance.
That dynamic duo slides into “Hungry Heart,” and the Cleveland boys (and girls) are well prepared to sing verse one with gusto. That word also suits “Working on a Dream,” which Bruce and the band play with full conviction. (Does anyone else think of the Beach Boys’ earworm “Kokomo” when they hear “Working on a Dream”?) Jon Altschiller unpacks each player in the mix, letting otherwise background parts like Clarence Clemons’ rich baritone sax shine through.
Then the eight-song show-within-a-show arrives. ”[We wanted to do] “something special…for the fans towards this last stretch [of the tour],” says Bruce, “so we’ve been playing some of our albums.” He goes on to explain that after failing to break through commercially with his first two LPs, and sensing he had but one more swing at the plate in 1975, “this was the album where we started a lifelong conversation with most of you.”
WIth that, “Thunder Road” and our story begins. It’s been theorized that Born to Run was originally meant to depict a single day from bright morning to the dark of night, and elements of that come through in this setting. “Thunder Road” in Cleveland is on the sprightly side, feeling more like a beginning than a culmination as it is so often in concert.
High spirits and comradery ensue via “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” which remains a celebration of the band itself. Curt Ramm was a returning special guest for this portion of the tour (presaging the full horn section to come in 2012), and his trumpet adds extra juice to the song’s indelible horn hook. “Night” arrives, and we’re moving quickly through side one, with The Big Man leading the way in a fine rendition. Kudos to Charlie Giordano, too, who wraps sinewy organ and chiming glockenspiel around the band’s wall of sound.
The aforementioned shift from peak to valley hits with “Backstreets.” Van Zandt teases out lovely licks in the intro, and a sublime version follows. It may not be realistic for Bruce, at 60 years old, to tap the emotions of his mid-20s self, but his vocals in Cleveland carry gravitas. The mid-song interlude that was once filled by “Sad Eyes” finds Bruce improvising vocally and reprising lines like “you’re an angel on my chest” to beautiful, meditative effect.
Release comes with “Born to Run,” which delivers hope and elation, however fleeting, to the narrative. Hearing the song come an otherwise odd ninth in the show doesn’t feel as disorienting as it would outside of the album context. As much of an anthem as “Born to Run” has become, standing on its own, it holds a vital place among these eight songs.
For whatever reason, “She’s the One” feels ever so slightly lost, but focus is restored with the pairing of “Meeting Across the River” and “Jungleland.” The album’s least-played track, “Meeting” never established a place in Springsteen’s live shows, having been played only 70 or so times. Curt Ramm’s majestic trumpet is the focal point of the gorgeous performance. Listen for Bruce’s voice crack emotionally as he sings, “It’ll look like you’re carrying a friend.”
It’s a pleasure to hear “Meeting Across the River” playing its role as the narrative companion to “Jungleland,” and the album-closer takes the handoff and soars. Every member of E Street is locked in, none more so than The Big Man. He takes his famous solo with aplomb and steals this movie’s epic final scene. Curtain.
What follows after Born to Run, to the end of the night, is more WOAD tour excellence, highlighted by the welcome inclusions of the delightfully reworked “Red Headed Woman,” a trumpet-tinged “Pink Cadillac” (why isn’t this song performed more often?), and the coup de grâce, “Back in Your Arms.”
In the song’s rare live appearances, “Back in Your Arms” typically opens with Springsteen asking the audience who among them who has blown it, throwing away love they should have cherished. There’s little doubt he’s speaking from personal experience. In Cleveland, his preamble ends with a spoken-sung line that builds to eventually implore, “Please please please let me have one more chance to show the love I feel in my heart for you.” “Back in Your Arms” has been played only 23 times, so each performance of the song is a special treat, but this one just might be first among equals.
With love on his mind, lost or otherwise, Bruce adds “Can’t Help Falling in Love” to the Cleveland encore, then “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” and “Rosalita,” both featuring Ramm on trumpet, to end the journey as he always does: on just the right note. A great album and a great show, all wrapped up in one great night.
With his trusty all-male backing band the Buzzards, Jack White’s July 2012 solo debut in Paris is chock full of reimagined White Stripes/Raconteurs/Dead Weather favorites sprinkled amongst gems from the just-released Blunderbuss. Throw in choice covers of songs originally by Hank Williams and Dick Dale and a guest appearance by show openers First Aid Kit on “We’re Going To Be Friends” and the end result is a 23-song performance that runs the gamut from blistering to brash to breaking hearts.
Setlist Black Math Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground Missing Pieces Weep Themselves To Sleep Love Interruption Tennessee Border Hotel Yorba Two Against One I Cut Like A Buffalo Trash Tongue Talker Blunderbuss Hypocritical Kiss The Same Boy You’ve Always Known Top Yourself
Encore Nitro Sixteen Saltines Cannon Blue Blood Blues I Guess I Should Go To Sleep We’re Going To Be Friends Carolina Drama Catch Hell Blues Seven Nation Army
The year 1995 is a peculiar one in Springsteen history. It began in early January with word of Bruce reconvening the E Street Band in the studio for what we quickly learned were new recordings released the following month on Greatest Hits. February also featured a semi-impromptu full-band performance at Tramps in New York City tied to the filming of the music video for “Murder Incorporated.” Things were heating up on E Street.
In April, Bruce and the band shot a more formal performance at Sony Studios, playing the new Greatest Hits songs and more. Then in September, they turned up in Cleveland for the opening of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, backing Chuck Berry and throwing an excellent “Darkness on the Edge of Town” in for good measure. It seemed for all the world that after seven long years, Bruce was reuniting with the E Street Band.
Which made the phone call I received in early October from a friend in the retail record business all the more unexpected. Our beloved Mr. Z told me that he was read-in on the new Springsteen album. “Full-band rock record followed by a world tour?” I asked with misguided certainty. Not even close. Z proceeded to tell me that Bruce’s new work was a solo album and largely acoustic.
“It’s called The Ghost of Tom Joad.” Come again? “Tom Joad, as in the guy from The Grapes of Wrath.” Huh? “And Bruce is playing solo again at the Bridge School concert at the end of the month.”
Three weeks later, I heard Springsteen debut two songs from his new album, “Sinaloa Cowboys” and “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” at Neil Young’s annual benefit concert in the Bay Area. Fast-forward to late November, and I’m sitting in my seat for opening night of the Joad tour at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, where Buce took the stage with nary an E Streeter in sight.
The way many of us initially experienced the Joad tour was as much about what it wasn’t (an E Street reunion) as what it was. But listening to Upper Darby 12/9/95, the tenth show of the tour and just two weeks removed from opening night at the Wiltern, it is abundantly clear that despite appearances to the contrary, Springsteen had long envisioned how his first solo tour was going to feel and what it was going to sound like.
The antecedent to the Joad tour was Springsteen’s solo appearance at a pair of Christic Institute benefit concerts in November 1990. It was there that Bruce initially broke with his everyman, fans-first persona, memorably telling the audience, “If you’re moved to clap along, please don’t,” and later, more tellingly, answering a call from crowd of “We love you, Bruce!” with the curt retort, “But you don’t really know me.” Ouch.
The Joad tour took the Christic’s conscious myth-shattering and intentional provocation and ran with it. Springsteen showed us confessional and confrontational sides we had never witnessed before, speaking with newfound candor about relationships, depression, and in Upper Darby, even taking (or not taking) LSD. As for confrontation, a stark “Shut up” in response to shouted requests at the Tower Theater speaks volumes.
On many levels, Joad was a sequel to Nebraska, though despite being kindred works, only “Mansion on the Hill” from the latter is represented in the 12/9/95 set. The distinct difference between the two albums is Springsteen’s evolved relationship to his own songwriting.
Introducing the song “Nebraska” at the Christic in 1990, Bruce said, “I don’t even know exactly why I wrote it [in 1982]. I didn’t think anything about whatever its political implications were until I read about it in the newspapers. But something I was feeling moved me to write all these songs at that time, where people lose their connection to their friends and their families, and their jobs and their countries, and their lives don’t make sense to them [any] more, and all the rules go out the window.”
The shift with Joad is that in 1995, unlike 1982, Bruce was fully aware of the political implications of the songs he was writing. In fact, quite the opposite of that Christic quote, several Joad narratives came directly from newspapers and books he was reading at the time. Such hyperconsciousness made his Joad writing distinct from Nebraska, more journalistic than impressionistic. Performing the songs solo (which he never did with Nebraska material until the Christic shows), Springsteen knew that for the Joad songs to connect with his audience, they had to pay attention to the details.
As such, the new troubadour scaled down to theaters and demanded quiet from his adoring fans who could previously do no wrong in the adulation department. It was jarring but also thrilling to feel so much attention being paid to narrative presentation. On top of that, Springsteen’s guitar, harmonica playing, and vocals were masterful.
Over the 18 months it ran, the Joad tour evolved modestly in terms of setlist changes, hewing close to the vision Springsteen set from the start. But in early shows like Upper Darby, that vision is wholly undiluted. The 12/9/95 set features all 12 songs from Joad — a bold step given its relative unfamiliarity, having been released less than four weeks prior. Catalog cuts like “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town” were dramatically and brilliantly reinterpreted, and with the exception of the tour debut of “Blinded By the Light,” bones were not thrown.
Listening back 27 years later, Bruce’s focused performance is at times mesmerizing and never less than compelling. “Murder Incorporated” grows more harrowing in this stripped-down arrangement, and Joad story-songs like “Sinaloa Cowboys,” “Galveston Bay,” “Youngstown,” and little-played “The New Timer” benefit immensely from the considered context Springsteen offers as he introduces each one. We hadn’t heard Bruce speak this much between songs since the early days, if ever, narrating his own work in a way that presages Springsteen on Broadway.
So different was the Joad tour, that early on it must have occurred to somebody at the label or management that a dose of fan reorientation might be in order. A partial recording of the Upper Darby concerts was quickly mixed and broadcast via radio syndication just a few days later as part of the short-lived Columbia Records Radio Hour. Those ten songs were also serviced to additional radio stations on promotional tapes, actions seemingly aimed at reaching even more of Bruce’s audience with a preview of what they were walking into in theaters across the country.
The Live Archive release of Upper Darby presents the complete 12/9/95 performance for the first time, including the series debuts of “The New Timer” and “My Best Was Never Good Enough,” and the first Joad tour version of “Spare Parts.”
When Bob Dylan found Jesus and toured in support of Gotta Serve Somebody in 1979, he devoted his entire set to spiritual songs without a single prior work. While the Joad tour didn’t go quite that far, as radical departures go, both Dylan and Springsteen confronted their audiences with bold new works and relentless performances like the one captured brilliantly in the Upper Darby recording.
In 1979 Bob Marley and the Wailers embarked on the Babylon By Bus tour that took the band through Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The Japanese leg of the tour included 8 stops throughout Osaka and Tokyo. Those eight shows, the only concerts Bob Marley ever performed in Japan, are frequently credited with igniting a reggae scene in Japan that is still present to this day. More than 30 years later, those eight shows are still meaningful to fans in Japan and around the world. They are also especially meaningful to Marley’s son, Ziggy.
In May 2021, Ziggy played a pair of shows at San Diego’s Petco Park. It was the first weekend that Petco Park had re-opened for concerts after a Pandemic closure. For these special shows, Ziggy decided to do a different kind of tribute to his father’s music. Speaking about the show, Ziggy said, “The whole concert is going to be my father’s music. It’s a live tribute to him. We’ve taken an actual setlist that my dad created in the late ’70s and we’re doing that whole setlist which for me is a whole different experience than just ‘the greatest hits of Bob Marley.’ Playing the actual setlist is an actual connection with reality about what they played at a certain moment in time.”
Of all of the concerts and setlists Bob Marley played in the 1970s, which did Ziggy select for this show? None other than April 5th, 1979 at the Shinjuku Kosei Nenkin Hall in Tokyo. It’s a truly special experience to hear Ziggy playing this setlist, just as his father had written. Now, for the first time since the concert was played live, fans can watch the entire concert on nugs.net. The livestream will air on Febrary 11th at 8PM ET.
I would love to regale you with the exact feeling of the room when the White Stripes rocked the Crocodile Club in July 2001. But I can’t…because I wasn’t allowed into the show. Nevermind that I was travelling with the band and in charge of selling all their merchandise, Seattle’s draconian liquor laws prevented me from even being in the room that night because I was only 19 years old at the time. I’d prepared for the moment, slightly, by bringing my older brother’s ID with me just in case I ran into trouble, but the door guy saw through it and was “kind” (his words) to me by NOT cutting it up.
One of the guys working at the club saw this go down and realizing I had nowhere to go asked if I wanted to go for a ride and just kill time. He had to go back to his crib before the gig, I would’ve literally just been sitting in the van (which I was already getting a good dose of at 5-6 hours a day) so I tagged along.
(Years later by sheer coincidence I would be reintroduced to said guy, Frank Nieto, as he was the publicist for my band the Dirtbombs’ We Have You Surrounded album in 2008. It would be quite some time of working together before we actually figured out that we’d met years earlier)
Instead I went down the street to the Sit ‘n’ Spin, the club a few blocks away where the Stripes had played 13 months earlier AND which had no problem letting me in underage. Truthfully…I’m pretty sure I fell asleep there over a slice of pizza. I got woken up by one of the employees as they were preparing to close for the evening and the guy claimed he remembered me coming in the previous year with the White Stripes.
I walked back to the Croc and from outside was able to hear the faintest twinklings of the Stripes’ first time ever cover of Arthur Lee’s “Five String Serenade” which is probably the best part of the ripper of a gig. Yeah that extended set-opening “Let’s Shake Hands” is a top five performance no doubt, and the undeniably explosive version of “Screwdriver” is likely the hardest dive into white noise Jack and Meg ever took…only to lock into a riffy guitar groove reminiscent of Jack’s part on “Turn Your Little Light Bulb On” by the Go.
But the austere “Five String Serenade”, tackled here without any previously known rehearsals or forays, is just perfect. The Stripes were introduced to the song via Mazzy Star’s version on their 1993 album So That Tonight I Might See. Jack and Meg’s simple, plaintive rendition here is probably my favorite musical moment of the entirety of the 2001 touring. The song just speaks so much while saying so little.
Would’ve been nice if I’d actually SEEN any of it happen, but hell, at least we were able to get it recorded. That’s all that matters in the end.
We often cite the Reunion tour as a demarcation between the “classic” and “modern” Springsteen eras. Yet this April already marks 23 years since the start of the Reunion tour in Barcelona. Do the math, and the E Street Band’s return in 1999 is inching ever closer to being the midpoint of their overall career—a line to be reached in 2026, at which point it will have been 27 years from the start of Reunion; and Reunion itself was 27 years after the band formed in 1972. Time flies.
Springsteen spoke movingly from the stage in 1999-2000 of the band’s rebirth, and we’ve seen that play out in memorable tours and albums ever since. But Reunion was a celebration of what came before and the rediscovery of the breadth and depth of the music Bruce and the E Street Band made together. That exploration manifested in setlists that saw Springsteen performing brilliant “lost” songs finally released on Tracks in 1998, revisiting deep catalog cuts unplayed in decades, changing up the arrangements of familiar material, and still throwing in the occasional surprise cover version.
Anaheim 5/22/00 ticks all four boxes and serves as an exemplar of what the Reunion tour had on offer. This second night of two opens with one of those marvelous outtakes, “Take ’Em as They Come,” recorded for The River. For those of us who purchased dodgy vinyl and traded hissy cassettes of unreleased Springsteen music in the years before Tracks, it is still miraculous to hear “Take ’Em as They Come” in the show, sounding every bit the epic rocker it was always destined to be. The band is hot out of the gate, and the song’s false ending, with Garry Tallent tipping his hat to The Beatles’ “Rain” and Clarence Clemons bringing the song home with his soaring sax, is immensely satisfying.
Following that promising start we get an inviting reading of “The Promised Land,” layered with lovely piano tinkling from Roy Bittan, and a rousing “Two Hearts” that shines the spotlight on Stevie Van Zandt, whose vocal contribution represents the beating heart of the reunited band.
A nasty guitar riff launches “Darlington County,” which nearly veers into the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women” for several bars before Bruce turns the wheel back to his own Born in the U.S.A. lane. Nils shares the mic for the “Hey little girl, standing on the corner” verse, and Van Zandt’s guitar drives a crunchy, extended outro. Once keyboard-dominated, the Reunion “Darlington County” is all about axes.
Another of those lost songs, “Rendezvous,” steps to the plate, reminding us of Bruce’s pop bona fides and the magic in those chiming guitar chords. Patti Scialfa’s vocal turn helps “Rendezvous” rise, and there’s a fun twist in the arrangement towards the end when the band falls out for three bars of, “I want a rendez….I want a rendez…I want a rendezvous.” There’s a sweet section of Danny Federici organ swirls, too, as the song skips to a charming close.
Another recurring thread on the Reunion tour was the introduction of a country music influence in the arrangement of some songs, notably “Factory” (at other shows, Bruce applied similar country strokes to “Mansion on the Hill”). Nils plays lap steel guitar, Danny accordion on this new arrangement that showcases strong duet vocals from Scialfa. , and that Nashville sound extends to create a fresh intro to “Independence Day.” It’s a doleful take on The River’s father-son tale, measured and meaningful, with lovely playing from Bittan and a spirit-lifting solo from Clemons.
The center of the core Reunion tour setlist was the five-pack, and we get a solid one here: “Youngstown,” “Murder Incorporated” (another of the “I can’t believe they’re playing it” outtakes we now take for granted), “Badlands,” “Out in the Street,” and a snippet-laden “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” that dips a toe into Curtis Mayfield’s “It’s All Right,” Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” Springsteen’s own “Red Headed Woman,” and Sciala’s solo “Rumble Doll.” In Bruce’s sermon, this line in particular stood out: “I want to go to the river of joy and live there.” Easier said than done, as we learned in Springsteen on Broadway.
The de facto second set opens with the first E Street Band performance of Human Touch’s “Roll of the Dice,” co-written, in case you’ve forgotten, by Bruce and Roy. Steve’s call-and-response vocals and The Big Man’s sax solo lend a distinctly River feel to the E Street rendition of the song, which was surely being test-driven for inclusion in the Las Vegas show five days hence. Springsteen appears to love the result, getting his money’s worth by telling the band to go “one more time, take it around.” “Roll of the Dice” has been played but a dozen times by the ESB, making its inclusion here all the more sweet.
Rarer still is the country version of “No Surrender,” which goes even further than “Factory” with Nils on pedal-steel guitar, sparking an arrangement that is more Nashville Skyline than Nashville, and more specifically nods to Bob Dylan’s “I Want You” from Blonde on Blonde, a song Bruce covered back in 1975. The slowed down, wistful arrangement debuted in Cleveland in November 1999 and was only played seven times on Reunion.
It was surprising to learn “Racing in the Street” was only performed 15 times on the Reunion tour, which feels low for such a significant song in the catalog. Bruce sings it a bit differently than previous tours, with a similar vocal cadence to “Thunder Road” circa 1999-2000 that takes some getting used to. Hearing it now, what comes through is a deep weariness as the narrative unfolds like a distant memory. The band sounds sublime, especially Danny, Roy, and Clarence’s rich baritone sax notes.
Time to lift spirits, and “Light of Day” does just that—all the more fun with a brief foray into The Rivieras’ “California Sun” (written by Henry Glover). Rollicking continues in the encore with a loose “Stand on It” (again featuring some twangy slide guitar), a true blue “Bobby Jean” with strong sax work from Clemons, “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” and the majestic “If I Should Fall Behind.”
“Land of Hope and Dreams” signals the night is coming to end, but not before one last surprise. Seemingly out of nowhere, the band breaks into Van Morrison’s “Gloria,” which starts with a suitably filthy guitar riff and full-throated vocals from Bruce. Stevie and Clarence join in to sing on the chorus. “Gloria” rolls straight into a long “Ramrod,” powered by Clarence’s fat sax notes, Max Weinberg’s big snare and hi-hat hits, and the big bottom of Garry’s bass.
Given how much fun Bruce and Stevie have singing “Ramrod,” it feels like it might never end, but after seven crunching minutes, like all good things must, “Ramrod” grinds to a close to end the evening.
Lost songs, rare tracks, new arrangements, and covers, Anaheim 5/22/00 has them all and adds yet another phase of the ever-evolving Reunion tour to the Live Archive series.
What a year 2021 has been. Through the ups and the downs, live music has been a lifeline to us all. We want to thank everyone who streamed concerts in the app, shared their favorite jam with a friend, watched a livestream, and all of the other things that make nugs.net possible. We love connecting fans with the live concerts they crave and this year we were thrilled to share some incredible performances. From fresh-off-the-stage recordings to remastered archives, this year was filled with memorable releases.
As we close the book on 2021 and look forward to 2022, we’re looking back at the artists, shows, and songs that nugs.net subscribers enjoyed the most. We’re music fans first and we are thrilled to share our favorite content from 2021 as well. Take a look at our 2021 Year in Review and see if any of your favorites made the list!
When you’re done exploring our 2021 Year in Review, get ready for 2022 by securing a full year of live music streaming on nugs.net for only $50. But hurry, the offer is ending soon! From all of us at nugs.net, thank you for enjoying live music in 2021. We look forward to seeing the concerts you’ll love in 2022.
At its core, the Live Archive series functions as an aural time machine, transporting us back to performances preserved in our memories or, better still, to shows only a few fortunate souls witnessed in person.
Based on that criteria, C.W. Post College, December 12, 1975 announces itself as an exemplar of the Archive series, placing us in the best seat in the house on Long Island to experience a stupefying performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the height of their circa 1975 powers.
After wrapping a four-date, European tour in November, the final month of 1975 saw Bruce play his first proper Canadian shows, return to major markets Boston and Philadelphia, and perform at small colleges and universities across the northeast. The C.W. Post concert (along with a show at Seton Hall in South Orange, NJ) was the closest gig to New York City. Judging by the rapturous audience response preserved by this recording, the Gotham fanbase made the trek to Long Island. With audio cabling laid through the auditorium leading to a truck parked outside, it was also clear to those in-the-know that the show was being recorded—one more catalyst for a heightened reaction.
The Archive series holds an embarrassment of riches from late 1975, including New Year’s Eve in Philly; the covers-laden, second London show in late November; and the conversion of Los Angeles at The Roxy in October, each noteworthy in its own way. Yet the C.W. Post performance stands out, somehow marvelously loose and inch-perfect tight at the same time. Tempos are zooming, the mood is celebratory, and if London and Los Angeles were about winning over new fans, C.W. Post aims to blow away the hardcores.
The same can be said today, as this is the Born to Run tour show you didn’t know you needed but unequivocally do. The 24-track, Plangent-Processed analog recording, newly mixed by Jon Altschiller, is 4K vivid, rich in both on-stage detail and event atmosphere. It couldn’t sound any fresher or clearer, and The Beatles Get Back parallels don’t end there.
We start in traditional 1975 tour fashion with the stark, piano-version of “Thunder Road,” a rollicking, pacey “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” and “Spirit in the Night.” Immediately, Stevie Van Zandt’s guitar work jumps to the fore, as he improvises atop familiar licks, adding appealing shading and variation throughout an evening where his playing is the first among equals.
“Lost in the Flood” benefits from the aforementioned looseness, as Bruce unwinds the tale a little differently, while the E Streeters enhance the drama, bursting forth after Bruce sings “Jimmy the Saint,” led by Van Zandt’s bending guitar note.
“She’s the One” opens on a long harmonica intro riding Stevie’s guitar-pedal prowess and Roy Bittan’s peerless piano. The band joins full force after the first verse and chorus, another moment of irresistible dynamics as the rhythm section makes their presence known through Garry Tallent’s deep bass and Max Weinberg’s big beat and splashing cymbal work. An outstanding version.
Following “Born to Run” comes the first-ever performance of The Animals’ “It’s My Life,” a cover that would become a cornerstone of Springsteen shows for the next 14 months.. As Brucebase writes, “In the 1987 BBC documentary Glory Days, Max Weinberg spoke about the premiere of ‘It’s My Life’ when he was asked if Bruce had ever launched into a song without telling the band what he was going to play. Max said that the band had never rehearsed the song before playing it in concert, but fortunately they all knew it.”
The recent Beatles documentary is filled with jaw-dropping moments where songs like “Get Back” and “Let It Be” spring to life in real time. Fan accounts confirm “It’s My Life” was not soundchecked at C.W. Post, yet out of thin air it begins, minus the familiar story intro. For the first minute or so, the band feels its way through, the arrangement deferential to the original but being E Streetized right before our ears. Confidence grows, and somewhere close to the middle of the song they realize, “We’ve got this.”
“It’s My Life” would go on to become a setlist staple for the next year and into early 1977. Its sentiment and the story-intro that developed around it set the stage for Bruce’s own “Independence Day.” In the 2000s, the band regularly assayed cover songs suggested by signs in the audience, but this isn’t a one-off—it’s the origin moment for one of the most significant cover versions Springsteen ever performed. Sure, any card-carrying member of the E Street Band knew The Animals’ original, but to drop “It’s My Life” in mid-set, seemingly unhearsed as Weinberg claimed and the C.W. Post arrangement supports, is audacious, joyful, and thrilling to hear.
Be that as it may, Bruce wastes little time segueing into a sprinting “Saint in the City,” and again the E Street Band flexes their musical muscles all the way through to the breakneck conclusion. A passionate “Backstreets” ensues, and one can only marvel at the level of performance by each member of the band. The spotlight justly turns to them for a long “Kitty’s Back” showcase, which finds the E Streeters in fine form not only instrumentally but vocally, too.
“Jungleland,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” (including Roy leading a “Hernando’s Hideaway” vamp), and “Sandy” continue an exceptional evening, each rendered as good or better than its 1975 peak. Bruce’s famous cover of “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” follows. The C.W. Post performance was quickly mixed after the show and released to supportive radio stations on tape. In the early 1980s, it was officially released, first on Columbia’s In Harmony 2 children’s compilation and later as the b-side to “My Hometown.”
The new version proves to be virtually identical to the original, save for a charming mix change that lets us more clearly hear the band members’ distinct responses to Bruce’s intro, including Steve’s emphatic, “IT’S CHRISTMAS TIME!”
The encore extends with a cracking “Detroit Medley” that starts with a bang and rides some awesome chugga-chugga guitar riffing from Van Zandt. The stage then clears, and Bruce moves to the piano for a scintillating solo performance of “For You,” dedicated to his then-girlfriend Karen Darvin. The solo “For You” is a high point in the London 11/24/75 Archive release as well, but each reading is unique, and the C.W. Post version is distinctly captivating.
The band returns, and as they get set, Roy does another “name that tune” vamp, this time on “Don’t Be Cruel.” Bruce tells the boisterous crowd, “You guys are nuts!” before counting in “Sha La La.” Once more, Van Zandt lays down a blazing guitar lead and Springsteen’s high-energy vocals reflect his mood, which carries through to the closing number, “Quarter to Three.” The audience response during the song is bananas, perhaps causing the first cracks in the Post Dome that would collapse under the weight of snow in January 1978. It’s possible.
“Quarter to Three” concludes—as it must—with Bruce declaring, “I’m just a prisoner… of rock and roll!” Of that there can be no doubt, vouched for by those fortunate enough to be at C.W. Post on that December night, or the rest of us reliving the experience through this sublime addition to the Archive series.
G.Love is feeling the Christmas spirit this holiday season. Tonight, the grammy-nominated artist is premiering his first-ever Christmas special exclusively on nugs.net. The special is set to include music from G.Love’s 2017 album Coming Home For Christmas and his latest holiday album Coming Back Home For Christmas which was released earlier this year. G.Love will be joined by producer Jon Evans on Upright Bass and Vocals as well as Matthias Bossi on Drums and Vocals as they perform in a cozy living room setting. The wonderful songs and intimate set filled with Christmas decorations are enough to get even Ebenezer Scrooge or The Grinch to sing along with holiday cheer.
Fans can watch the premiere tonight at 8PM Eastern. After the show, it will be available to order and start watching on-demand anytime this holiday season. Additionally, we’ve got great news for fans of Coming Back Home For Christmas. nugs.net’s newly launched contests portal has a *signed* vinyl copy of Coming Back Home For Christmas which will go to one lucky winner on December 28th. The contest is free to enter for all nugs.net subscribers. If you’re not subscribed, sign up when you order the G.Love Christmas Special and you’ll also get 50% off the pay-per-view.
Not every show is life-affirmingly beautiful. Not every show earns a rosy summation with a tidy bow wrapped around it. Not every show is a game-changer. A lot of gigs are rough, a lot of gigs involve a struggle. A lot of gigs teach us about an artist in regards to how they react to adversity.
The White Stripes at the Troubadour on July 16th, 2001 is one of those shows where the disconnect is the likely appeal.
Around summer of 2001, a phenomenon started to become apparent in regards to the White Stripes playing two shows in a row in the same town. Two-night stands, as it were. For a reason that still seems difficult to pinpoint…the crowd at the first night of a two-show run would just be…dull. Still. Disengaged.
That was the perceived state of the crowd in Los Angeles that day. Before the Stripes even hit the stage, the attendees had not gelled with either of the two opening acts. That alone raised Jack’s ire and you can hear it from the moment he steps onstage…barely any noise from the crowd and an immediate on-mic condemnation.
From there, the always incendiary “Let’s Shake Hands” is outwardly even MORE so. Through “When I Hear My Name” and “Dead Leaves” the propulsion is strictly emanating from the attempt to inspire the crowd.
The accentented intro to “Jolene” is a nice deviation and in spite of the applause, there was still a disconnect. In what I’ve titled “Hip Improv” here, Jack and Meg chug along on a straightforward “Boll Weevil”-reminiscent groove before Jack intones “Is this hip enough for you Meg? Ah! Can you feel the hipness blow upon you Meg? Come on now! Oh so cool, so cool. Oh so cool.”
Jack’s guitar fritzing out a handful of times here doesn’t help. The aborted 13 seconds of “Astro” at the end of “Cannon” to me signify the band grasping at straws to try and breakthrough to the audience.
The hot and cold version of “Death Letter” is further evidence of throwing it all against the wall in hopes that something sticks. Following the solid version of “I Think I Smell A Rat” Jack quizzically asks “So how’s the movie? Everybody enjoying the movie?”
The blazing, 62-second version of “Fell In Love With A Girl” feels downright spiteful, especially in foregoing the final verse and chorus of the song. “Wasting My Time” seems like the title could be a manifestation of the feelings on stage at that point. “Southern Can” is tackled at an outright breakneck pace, possibly the fastest it had ever been played.
The protracted accents punctuating the middle of “Screwdriver” feel provocative, yet another attempt to draw something out of those assembled in the room that evening. Toward the end of the song, Jack and Meg are just busting their humps to improvise on the same page. They get there, eventually.
The intriguing part here is, in spite of all the friction, the show is a compelling listen. Thinking back today, I had NO memory of the audience that night. No remembrance of the struggle. No recall of a less-than-ideal performance. I had no significant recollection of the show other than the fact that I met Chris Pontius at the merch table while Eric Erlandson and Mike Mills were floating around the room as well.
Listening back 20 years later, my takeaway here is that whatever the vibe in the room may be at the time, in two decades’ time hardly anyone will even remember. If you remove Jack’s banter here, it kinda just sounds like any other show from the same run. Ultimately, I don’t even know if the feeling in the room even matters once the evening is over. All we will have is the recording, if we’re lucky. Everything else is just perception, and perception is just a nine-dollar word for opinion.
The recently released recordings from 1979’s No Nukes concerts provide a riveting snapshot of a significant moment in time: the transition between 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town and 1980’s The River. The crackling electricity the No Nukes recordings emit is due in part to Springsteen packing the energy and excitement of a full show into a mere 90 minutes.
If the No Nukes set was a 13-song sprint, Nassau Coliseum 12/28/80 is a 33-track marathon, but a film analogy—16mm to 35mm—might be the more apt one. At an expansive 3 hours and 25 minutes, the River show captures Bruce and the E Street Band in widescreen, cinematic mode, in both scope and substance.
Given Springsteen was supporting his first double album and its 20 fresh songs, the River shows grew longer out of necessity. But the subject matter itself justified the expansion. “Independence Day,” “Stolen Car,” “Wreck on the Highway,” “Point Blank,” and “The River” are deep, narrative journeys, with Springsteen’s characters confronting existential questions and adulthood’s heaviest inflection points.
As a result, storytelling runs deeper and tone sustains longer in River shows than their predecessors. Songs like “Backstreets” and “Racing in the Street” were second-set emotional showstoppers in 1978, but contrast that with the somber trio of “Stolen Car,” “Wreck on the Highway” and “Point Blank” in the back half of 12/28/80 and there is no debate where lives are truly on the line. The Romances have given way to the Tragedies.
Like the album itself, River shows offer a compelling contrast between explorations of the dark recesses of human existence and life-affirming songs of release—a double feature, if you will, of Bergman and Capra. By way of example, Bruce follows the aforementioned trio of “Stolen,” “Wreck” and “Point” with a resuscitating take of “The Ties That Bind” when the audience needed reviving.
The expanded set also allowed Bruce to retain much of his key canon while still introducing an unprecedented amount of new music to his audience. Nassau 12/28/80 features 13 songs from The River while still carrying more than half of Born to Run, five songs and two outtakes from Darkness, key covers (“Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Detroit Medley”), classics (“Rosalita,” “For You,” “Sandy”), and a couple of seasonal specials.
One of those, “Merry Christmas Baby,” gets the show off to a (holiday) spirited start, with Bruce channeling Otis Redding’s version in fine, lively voice and Clarence Clemons blowing a great saxophone solo.
Like most “special” shows, the telltale sign of Springsteen’s heightened, feeling-the-moment vocals can be found in many songs including excellent readings of “Darkness” and “Prove It All Night” in the first set, “For You” (such a fun first verse) and even “Ramrod” and “You Can Look” in the second set.
He’s feeling it—and who can blame him? The River just hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and Bruce was playing the first of three sold-out, impossible-ticket arena shows in his biggest market.
The delightful performance of “For You” in the second set yields to emotive guitar strumming, the prelude to a heart-rending “Stolen Car.” It’s a particularly spare and moving arrangement of one of the saddest songs in Springsteen’s catalog, wonderful to hear so faithfully played. Garry Tallent’s bass part on “Stolen Car” is one of his finest contributions ever.
The trilogy of tears continues with “Wreck on the Highway,” which manages to convey warmth and desolation at the same time. The E Street Band’s delicate touch serves the song well, with Roy BIttan’s piano and Danny Federici’s organ weaving counterparts, while Stevie Van Zandt’s guitar rings dolefully in the right channel. Hauntingly beautiful.
“Point Blank” completes the 20-minute trip through the heart of darkness, its narrative tone resigned and resolute but no less emotionally captivating. “Point Blank” is more overtly dramatic and emotionally detached than “Stolen Car” or “Wreck on the Highway,” which makes it a thrilling showpiece, rendered here with controlled bravado and sublime E Street musicianship.
While each Nassau concert stands on its own, the one song featured in 12/28/80 not played at the next two shows is “Backstreets.” Van Zandt offers novel fretwork in the song’s intro and brilliant playing throughout, distinguishing the River tour versions slightly but meaningfully from prior incarnations. Springsteen sings with full conviction and, together with Max Weinberg’s powerful drumming, “Backstreets” becomes the set’s thematic denouement and sonic crescendo.
A few other songs from the main set merit special mention. Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain” is played for only the third time ever, and the excellent Nassau version further cements the song’s status as a hand-in-glove fit with the E Street Band and one of their all-time best covers. Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” premiered this night, with Bruce telling the audience about reading Joe Klein’s book Woody Guthrie: A Life and reminding them that the song was written as “an angry answer to ‘God Bless America.’” We’re also treated to a unique “Hungry Heart” featuring Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, better known as Flo & Eddie, recreating their background vocals from the studio version.
The final hour of Nassau is immensely satisfying, beginning with “Rosalita” followed by a delightful “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” and “Jungleland,” chock full of those heightened Bruce vocals and a distinctive Van Zandt guitar solo, while the big Big Man smashes the first note and never wavers in his own solo spotlight. “Born to Run” and the “Detroit Medley” (including a long chunk of “I Hear a Train”) bring us home and conclude a quintessential River tour performance in all its cinematic glory.
When we look at the pandemic and how it has affected the music industry, perhaps the most defining frame is of response. The resilient ways that artists, crew, and the industry at large took a look at the circumstances and responded. In the initial wave of lockdown, living room livestreams and concert rebroadcasts were among the most popular ways that artists connected with fans and kept live music out there. Jeff Tweedy turned to songwriting. The Wilco front-man was in a unique position to write and record entirely from “home.”
Home in this case was both Tweedy’s physical home and The Loft, Wilco’s studio in Chicago. With the help of his sons, Spencer and Sam, Tweedy responded to lockdown with a truly home-grown record. The album, titled Love Is The King, feels intimately connected to the pandemic. It’s a meditation on human connection: good days, bad days, relationships, mortality, and everything else that crossed our minds these last two years. Love Is The King takes center stage in the latest release of Wilco’s ‘Front of House’ archival concert series.
A first for the series, this concert did not come from a theatre, club, or festival but instead, a drive-in pop-up venue at Bridgeview, Illinois’ SeatGeek Stadium parking lot. It was only fitting that the first release of these songs in their live form is connected to the way artists responded to the pandemic. The bygone drive-in was the miracle that safely got artists out of the living room, back on the road, and into parking lots, farms, and speedways around the country.
The concert, available today on nugs.net, features almost every song from Love Is The King, including hits “Guess Again,” “Gwendolyn,” and the title track. The concert also features Tweedy favorites including “Low Key” and “Summer Noon.” The extended encore begins with “Even I Can See,” a tender testament of marital adoration from Love Is The King. The encore then shifts into covers of material from The Sir Douglas Quintet, Diane Izzo, The Beatles, and Doug Sahm.
The highlight of the encore comes as Tweedy performs Mavis Staples’ “You Are Not Alone,” a song he produced with Staples on her 2010 album of the same name. Though the song is more than a decade old, it evokes the universal feelings of loneliness felt throughout the pandemic. The lyrics are a simple acknowledgment that we are together, even in isolation. “You Are Not Alone” offers a simple encouragement:
You are not alone
I’m with you
I’m lonely too
“You Are Not Alone” and Love Is The King are perfect encapsulations of our collective experience over the last two years. Though the pandemic may not be over, the fact that we can listen to Jeff Tweedy sing these songs on a stage in front of an audience speaks to how far we’ve come. We’ve made it to the other side with a greater realization of the things that connect all of us.
Ween’s “Roses Are Free,” has had an interesting journey over the last 25 years. The Phish.net entry for the song includes Mickey Melchiondo (AKA Dean Ween himself) admitting It wasn’t until Phish added the song to their live repertoire in 1997 that the live potential for the track clicked for Ween. Now Melchiondo says it’s one of his favorite songs to perform in front of a crowd. In fact, “Roses Are Free” remains a regular staple for both Ween and Phish. The song appeared in both bands’ setlists as recently as this past Halloween weekend. It’s that spirit of inter-band influence that makes live music such a special community.
The enduring life of “Roses Are Free” can also be attributed to the fact that it’s simply an amazing song. The track’s groovy feel-good atmosphere was destined to be a jam hit. It’s no surprise Leftover Salmon would select it for their 2021 late-show at Colorado’s Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom following Phish’s performance at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The debut cover’s mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation blends wonderfully to honor the funky, Prince-inspired styling of the original track while keeping within Salmon’s jamgrass DNA. The contagious fun of Leftover Salmon’s version of “Roses Are Free” is a perfect companion to the Ween original and Phish cover that came before it.
Audio from Leftover Salmon’s full Phish after-party performance is now streaming in the nugs.net app.
There’s an old adage that being in a band is one of the closest experiences to being married — not only must you learn to navigate around each member’s individual personality quirks in oftentimes sub-optimal conditions, but you have to do so while attempting to be at your creative peak. It’s no wonder bands break up, lose members, gain members, reform, and break up again on a daily basis.
Although Pearl Jam went through four drummers in its first seven-plus years of existence, the Seattle band’s lineup has been stable since drummer Matt Cameron joined in 1998. At its core, Pearl Jam is built on the personal and creative alchemy of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament, who met in Seattle and 1983 and have more or less been playing music together ever since: first in the proto-grunge combo Green River, then Mother Love Bone and, finally, Pearl Jam, which formed in October 1990.
It was Gossard and Ament who found solace in another after Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood died of a drug overdose, and began writing the material that would eventually be released on Pearl Jam’s debut album “Ten” and the all-star one-off self-titled LP from Temple Of The Dog. It was also Gossard and Ament who invited an unknown vocalist from San Diego named Eddie Vedder to come jam in Seattle after the pair were astonished by vocals he’d recorded atop three of their demo tape instrumentals. The rest, as they say, was rock’n’roll history.
Gossard and Ament’s long-lasting partnership remains central to Pearl Jam in 2021, on the heels of the band’s first performances in more than three years. At Pearl Jam’s third set at the Ohana Festival on Oct. 2, it was on full display during a performance of “Smile” from the 1996 album “No Code.” As Vedder remarked from the stage, “They have been hanging out and collaborating and being great friends — they never went to lover status — but they’ve been together for almost 38 years. Let it be known that loyalty could get you far.”
The audio from that show debuts today on nugs.net; Pearl Jam’s one and only complete performance of “No Code” from Moline, Ill., in October 2014 is also now available on SVOD.
“Smile” is notable in the Pearl Jam catalog for the fact that Gossard and Ament switch instruments when performing it live. Ament wrote the music for the track in the mid-‘90s, and Vedder later added lyrics inspired by a note that Dennis Flemion of Chicago band The Frogs had left tucked inside one of his notebooks. The refrain “I miss you already / I miss you always” is one of the most poignant on “No Code,” and only serves to reinforce the importance of love and friendship, be it in a band or in a relationship.
As Ament told me for the 2011 book “Pearl Jam 20,” he brought the kernel of “Smile” to the “No Code” sessions alongside a handful of other ideas he thought were far more interesting. But as often happens in Pearl Jam, Ament was pleasantly surprised when his bandmates gravitated toward his “two-parter Neil Young nod of the cap” and pushed for its inclusion on the album.
For whatever reason, “Smile” was the last song from “No Code” to be performed live on the 1996 tour in support of the album (“I’m Open” wasn’t debuted on stage until 2006), and to date it has been played the fifth-fewest times (86) of the record’s 13 tracks. But that scarcity makes it an enduring fan favorite. Live, “Smile” is grittier and a bit faster than its recorded counterpart, and includes a repeated, truncated version of the main riff to replace the fadeout on the album. On stage, Ament gets the opportunity for a whammy bar-enhanced guitar solo, and Vedder’s harmonica playing is also a highlight, as it is rarely seen during Pearl Jam shows and conjures an almost campfire vibe.
At Ohana, “Smile” was not actually on the printed setlist and was instead called as a perfect audible between a cover of Brandi Carlile’s “Again Today” (with guest vocals from Carlile herself) and “Porch,” which closed the main set. It’s another potent reminder of the camaraderie from which Pearl Jam was born and continues to power the band past its 30th anniversary.
Start a trial to listen to the Ohana audio and watch the Moline, IL “No Code” show.
Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN, March 20, 2008
Bruce Springsteen called Danny Federici “one of the pillars of [the] sound” of the E Street Band. Clarence Clemons’ spotlighted saxophone solos in “Born to Run” and “Badlands” may be more iconic, but take away Danny’s glockenspiel on the high end, organ on the low, and both songs lose precious layers of their musical magic.
Great players have a signature sound, and Federici’s organ, glockenspiel, and accordion parts carried his mark. I remember listening to Tunnel of Love for the first time in 1987, fully aware it was a Bruce solo recording with minimal involvement from the E Street Band. But when “Two Faces” came on, there was no doubt who was playing the organ solo.
The start of the Magic tour in 2007 marked 32 years of the core E Street Band line-up of Bittan, Clemons, Federici, Tallent, Van Zandt, and Weinberg, then augmented by Patti Scialfa, Nils Lofgren and Soozie Tyrell. As the first US leg wound to a close in November, it was announced that Danny would take a temporary leave of absence to receive treatment for melanoma. Charlie Giordano from the Sessions Band capably filled in, starting with the European leg that ended the year.
When the next US leg started back up in the spring of 2008, the chances of a full recovery by Federici had diminished. But when the tour rolled into Indianapolis, Danny summoned the energy to play with his bandmates one last time. A month later, he passed away in a New York City hospital room, at only 58 years of age.
Indianapolis 3/20/08 is both a celebration of and a goodbye to Phantom Dan Federici. He performs on eight songs in the show, and the emotion is palpable each moment he is on stage.
The set gets off to a roaring start with a ripping version of “Night” into “Radio Nowhere.” Later, a sharp “Prove It All Night” carries through to “Gypsy Biker,” for my money the most fully realized song from Magic on the concert stage. Both Soozie Tyrell and Stevie Van Zandt contribute sublime backing vocals, and the drama of lyrics and music coalesce like a long-lost River outtake, heightened by the crescendo of guitar solos that end the song.
The tour debut of “Rendezvous” is an appreciated addition, sounding spry and fresh, and Soozie has another lovely vocal turn on a terrific “Because the Night.” The show has hit its stride, and “She’s the One” is the next to impress. The Born to Run classic has had its share of meaningful resurrections, notably on the Tunnel of Love Express tour in 1988 and here as a Magic tour staple in a pacey, faithful arrangement.
After an always-entertaining “Livin’ in the Future,” we go back to the past. Bruce welcomes Danny to the stage, who resumes his position, stage right, in a graceful handoff from Giordano. An optimistic “The Promised Land” comes first, then Bruce yells, “turn him up!” as Danny weaves the swampy “Spirit in the Night” organ prelude on his own. Perhaps it’s just hindsight, but the gravity of the occasion feels present in the band’s somewhat measured reading of “Spirit.” And who could blame them?
“We can’t let him get away without playing this one,” Springsteen announces ahead of “Sandy.” “We’ll start, just Danny and me.” Sweet accordion swirls around guitar, and the Shore scene comes to life. The deeper meaning of the night comes fully to the fore when Springsteen sings, “For I may never see you again.” A graceful performance of bittersweet beauty.
Federici exits (“He’ll be back!”) and the set returns to focused form through the ominous “Devil’s Arcade,” “The Rising,” “Last to Die” (another River outtake that never was), and a cathartic “Long Walk Home,” before closing with a rousing “Badlands.”
Phantom Dan rejoins for a five-song encore that opens with “Backstreets” dedicated to Danny. Like the aforementioned “Born to Run” and “Badlands,” Federici’s organ part is central to the tonal pathos of the song, which Springsteen sings with tender conviction in a truly compelling reading.
“Kitty’s Back” saunters in from the alley to display the virtuosity of the E Street Band and the depth of its roots back to the early ‘70s. Danny gets a fitting turn in the solo spotlight, but the performance isn’t solely about him—it is a celebration of the extraordinary band he was a crucial part of. As retro as “Kitty’s Back” is, it sure sounds vital in 2008, in what is one of the best performances of the song in the post-Reunion era.
Glockenspiel rings clear as a bell in a passionate “Born to Run,” ended neatly by Van Zandt’s, five-note descending coda before Bruce rolls exuberantly into “Dancing in the Dark.” For the final song of the night, “American Land,” all three E Street keyboard players share the stage, with Roy and Charlie accordion-dueling up front, and Phantom Dan holding it down from his keyboard perch, his traditional station for so many years.
Sadly, E Street would go on to lose another great, with the Big Man passing just a few years later in 2011. Which only makes the Indianapolis reunion of Danny Federici and his blood brothers all the more meaningful.
The White Stripes performance at the Bottle Rocket in 2001 (their fourth and final performance in Glass City) highlights the first recorded performance of “I Think I Smell A Rat.” The Sisyphean task of appropriately tagging “first-ever performance” of a band’s songs is a lake of fire that I cautiously dip my toes into. As shows earlier that month in Athens, OH and Louisvile possibly featured the song, the fact that no one appears to have captured proof of either leaves the truth lost to the mists of history. But April 20th in Toledo is likely the slowest tempo “I Think I Smell A Rat” was ever performed by Jack and Meg. Whereas the speed would be kicked up noticeably in future performances, the measured approach here feels almost…confrontational. The take on “Dead Leaves” is similarly restrained. A rare exploration of “Death Letter” as a set opener wildly leans into an aggressively delightful distorted ending to “Little Bird” while a charmed misremembering of the lyrics in “Your Southern Can Is Mine” reels with childish warmth.
A crowd small (and audible) enough to hear their specific song requests (the obscure vinyl-only “Handsprings!” or “Hotel Yorba” which hadn’t even been released yet) would not remain that way much longer. The tongue-in-cheek “deepest sympathies” to dear friends (and local blues-punk heroes) Henry and June is followed a few songs later with a more sincere thank you shout-out to the group. The ad-libbed “that’s me!” dropped in after “Jackson” in “Astro”, vocal gibberish resembling the phrase “Third Man” in “Screwdriver” …all these are sweet little chesnuts in this wonderful setlist from the briefest of transitional periods…mixing in, with guile, songs from the impending “White Blood Cells” with choice cuts from the band’s previous efforts.
All that said, over twenty years later and Jack White has not played Toledo under any guise since.
It has been said that after you first tiptoe into the unique musical universe created by Australia’s King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, you may never want to step back into the real world again. nugs.net listeners now have the chance to experience this sensation first-hand with today’s release of nine concerts from the beloved group, including videos of three complete shows from San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne. Also making its nugs.net debut is the soundtrack to the 2020 concert film “Chunky Shrapnel,” which chronicles Gizzard’s 2019 European tour in all its psychedelic glory.
Formed in Melbourne in 2010, Gizzard has since released 18 studio albums that touch on bad-ass garage rock, full-on ‘80s thrash metal, expansive psychedelia, synth loop-driven, major-key jams, and pretty much every guitar-based form of music in between. These projects are mere launching points for the band’s ever-changing, perpetually sold-out live shows, which are represented in all their glory on this first batch of nugs.net releases. A catalog this varied and extensive may seem daunting, so let us suggest a few highlights to help you ease your way in …
LIVE IN MELBOURNE 2021:
When most of the world was still in lockdown earlier this year, Australia managed to implement effective health and safety procedures that enabled live shows to take place, and on this night, a couple thousand King Gizzard fans in Melbourne were truly the beneficiaries. In just their third show in nearly a year, the group is sizzling from minute one, as Michael “Cavs” Cavanagh’s drum solo whips the audience into a tangible frenzy. An early-set gem is the whiplash-inducing “Rattlesnake,” which hits like Judas Priest’s “Breaking the Law’ on a speed bender. Frontman Stu Mackenzie’s vocal lines mirror his frenetic guitar work, conjuring an unlikely earworm as only King Gizzard can. Purple and yellow lights crackle behind the band to offer the perfect accent for the nocturnal adventure “Sleep Drifter,” while closer “K.G.L.W.” (the band’s initials — get it?) is a wicked, riffy monster that will find your brain hanging on for dear life.
LIVE IN SYDNEY 2021:
Three songs in, “Nuclear Fusion” shows why King Gizzard often defies categorization. This swaggering number, written, like many recent Gizzard songs, in the decidedly non-Western microtonal tuning, transports you to a hookah bar in outer space soundtracked by exotic, harmonized guitar leads, wacky, deep grooves, and rapid-fire snare-drum hits that would make James Brown proud. Later on, at this mid-pandemic gig in Sydney, Ambrose Kenny-Smith steps out from behind his keyboard stand to take the mic on the delightfully menacing “Supreme Ascendancy,” while the crackling black-and-white visuals add extra disorientation to the Sabbath-y, stutter-stop stomp of “The Hungry Wolf of Fate.”
LIVE IN SAN FRANCISCO 2016:
What better way to salute San Francisco’s rich legacy of psychedelic rock than with a 22-minute closing song? In doing so, “Head On/Pill” features everything that’s right in the King Gizzard world. Building slowly from a positive-vibe, mid-tempo groove, the track explodes into glorious, harmonica-laced boogie rock, retreats back into a bass-driven vamp (with flute!), and emerges again with resplendent, shimmering guitar tones. “Robot Stop” sets the tone right off the bat, with Mackenzie’s guitar lead rapidly descending in pitch like a madman turning an unseen dial. Lyrics such as “Loosen up / time to drop / fuck shit up / don’t forget about it” could very well serve as King Gizzard’s manifesto, so dive right in.
The audio-only albums arriving today are chock-full of goodies as well. On “Live in London 2019,” Gizzard once again saves the very best for the last song of the night. “Float Along – Fill Your Lungs,” from the 2013 album of the same name, is nine minutes of classic rock majesty with a nod to the long, strange trips of vintage Grateful Dead. “Live in Paris 2019” offers a fantastic take on “Muddy Water” — an expert blend of power and mystery. “Head On/Pill” re-appears in a spectacular 29-minute blowout on “Live in Adelaide 2019” and even tips the cap to the diehards by spontaneously rewiring the main riff from “Rattlesnake” in a new, major-key style (the audience quickly begins singing the titular phrase in amazement). “Live in Brussels 2019” has killer versions of several songs from the band’s thrashy 2019 concept album “Infest the Rat’s Nest,” particularly the chugga-wugga “Venusian 2,” which is perhaps the best song Motorhead never wrote. “Live in Asheville 2019” shifts into the highest of gears on “Alter Me III” -> “Altered Beast IV,” which could quite possibly melt even the sturdiest of brains.
Finally, “Chunky Shrapnel” rounds up excellent 2019-era live cuts, highlighted by a scorching “Planet B” and the dark, cinematic “Loyalty.” But the real treat here is Mackenzie’s ambient, studio-born contributions to the soundtrack such as “Anamnesis.” Here, we find the seeds of the music on Gizzard’s latest studio album, “Butterfly 3000,” which was built on synth loops and in so doing takes King Gizzard in an entirely new and joyous direction. Who knows what comes next? Keep visiting nugs.net to find out.
Hometown shows are, oftentimes, a mess. The guest list is a clusterfuck, some weirdo from high school you haven’t seen in a decade monopolizes your time, dinner springs upon you like an unwieldy beast that you’ve never had to tackle previously (despite making it work every day in your “regular” life in town). The benefit though is that the performances are so much more likely to be sublime. And the White Stripes at the Magic Stick (coupled with the Gold Dollar as close as they would ever have to a “home field”) on March 31st, 2001 is absolutely sublime.
As the culmination of three Midwestern dates that weekend (Cleveland and Chicago were the Thursday/Friday shows) the run was hot on the heels of the Stripes breakout performances at South-By Southwest earlier that month. The momentum was building. The shows were only increasing in intensity.
While at this point twenty years later, the setlist is fairly in line with other Stripes’ gigs from that moment, the awkwardness of “Boll Weevil” dropping in the middle of the set will never cease to feel like a glitch in the fabric of time. So clearly is that song supposed to be a set closer. In that same mindset, “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground” NOT kicking off a show, but tucked in the later third of the set, just smacks of a work-in-progress. The White Stripes were always game to adjust and call audibles and pull things on the fly…but once a move was so clearly perfected, well, there’s a hard time breaking out of that comfort.
A particular treat in this performance is the first and only appearance of the red-and-white Danelectro double-neck guitar. The stock clear pickguards were hand-painted red by Jack himself. With the auxiliary neck strung up in the baritone register, the axe is deployed for the “Astro/Jack the Ripper” medley followed by “The Big Three Killed My Baby”…and then never again. To hear Jack’s thoughts on it at the time, he didn’t feel like he should be doing anything that would explicitly court MORE comparisons to Led Zeppelin.
(For those keeping tabs, that guitar would show up on stage six years later ably utilized by the local Detroit garage band Tin Knocker)
I seem to recall selling copies of the Stripes Sub Pop single at the merch table on this night. Or if we didn’t…we certainly discussed the possibility of doing so. Maybe we only sold a few? For everything I remember in the past 20 years, there’s a thousand I’ve forgotten so the fact there’s a solid VHS video of the gig on YouTube is a nice accompaniment here. Enjoy.
There was a time when we pondered whether Springsteen would ever undertake a solo tour.
The release of Nebraska in 1982 spurred the initial idea, as fans understandably wondered if Bruce would perform the album live. Next came the Bridge School concert in 1986 (available in the Live Archive series), his first full acoustic set post 1973, some of it solo, the rest backed by only Nils Lofgren and Danny Federici. That special gig triggered another round of talk about solo shows, in part because things had gotten so big following the stadium concerts in 1985. Wouldn’t it be interesting to boil the whole thing back down to its essence?
The two Christic Institute performances in 1990 (also available in the Live Archive series) proved the power of Springsteen alone on stage, and eventually they also proved to be the precursors to his first solo tour later that decade. Springsteen’s one-man world tour in support of The Ghost of Tom Joad stretched from late 1995 to the spring of 1997. The Joad shows saw Bruce in troubadour mode, performing exclusively on acoustic guitar and harmonica with occasional off-stage keyboard support from longtime tech Kevin Buell. The stripped-down tour hit venues the size of which Springsteen hadn’t played since the 1970s. Some, like the Tower Theater outside Philadelphia, were the very same buildings.
Appealing as those antecedents were, the 2005 Devils & Dust tour is Springsteen’s most fully realized solo expression. He expanded his instrumentation, adding new colors via pump organ, electric and acoustic pianos, and, on occasion, autoharp, dobro, banjo, and ukulele. He expanded his setlists, too, working up thrilling new arrangements of deep cuts from the catalog, some played only a time or two. Intimate performances aren’t effective simply due to venue size. They require a performer to take risks and play in the moment, which Bruce did night after night in 2005.
This Tower Theater concert is from the opening weeks of the D&D tour. Bruce’s personal history with the venue — going all the way back to 1974 — portended something special, and the payoff came early. “My Beautiful Reward,” performed on pump organ, closed most shows in 1992 and ’93; here it is reborn as a reflective opener, and Springsteen’s vocals flow warmly right out of the gate, sliding across notes with confidence. A sweet harmonica coda formally commences the evening.
D&D tour setlists progress in a chapter-like form, often tied to the instrument Springsteen is playing. Bruce moves through tour staples “Reason to Believe” and “Devils & Dust,” then sharp readings of “Youngstown,” “Empty Sky,” and “Black Cowboys” (featuring Alan Fitzgerald on backstage keyboards at the end). Those three had limited runs in 2005, but nothing like the next selection, as Bruce moves to piano for a true WTF moment on a tour filled with surprises.
“In honor of the fabulous Tower Theater I’m gonna do something here,” Bruce says. “This is a song I cut for Darkness on the Edge of Town, but it didn’t make the record, and I’ve never played it. So I’m gonna give it a shot.”
The crowd reacts with enthusiasm, only to be reminded not to get ahead of themselves: “[It’s] probably one of the stinkers we left off. I wouldn’t get over-excited.” Funny. When the first chords play, it sounds like fewer than a dozen people recognize “Iceman,” recorded in 1977 and released on Tracks in 1998.
The intriguing tune is representative of a cluster of early material cut for Darkness including the still-unreleased and kindred “Preacher’s Daughter,” which was recorded around the same time and first surfaced publicly as a snippet in some 1978 performances of “She’s the One.” “Iceman” also shares a key line with “Badlands”: “I want to go out tonight, I want to find out what I got.” Given our familiarity with those words from “Badlands,” it is fascinating to hear Springsteen give them entirely different diction here.
“Iceman” may not approach the lost-masterpiece levels of “The Promise” or “Drop on Down and Cover Me,” but his committed vocal performance (faintly reminiscent of his 1972 demos) and excellent piano playing bring out the best in the somber song. Also intriguing is the shift Bruce makes at 2:41, appending “Iceman” with an unexpected piano coda.
That new piece also turned out to serve as a bridge, allowing Springsteen to go from “Iceman” without warning into “Incident on 57th Street.” It’s an impressive rendition, with strong, dialed-in vocals and fine piano. If you bet the “Iceman”/”Incident” exacta at Joad Downs, your ponies came in, friend.
Upper Darby’s next chapter is on guitar. First up, “Part Man, Part Monkey,” preceded by Springsteen’s timely intro about local governments rethinking “the whole evolution thing.” How quaint that mild questioning of scientific fact seems today. A trio from Devils & Dust follows: “Maria’s Bed,” “Silver Palomino,” and Bruce’s sodomy & sin soliloquy, “Reno.”
Springsteen shifts to electric piano for a moment of musical beauty with “Wreck on the Highway.” The underplayed River closer draws quiet power from the steady, sober telling of the tale. But where Roy Bittan’s piano on the album and full-band versions is widescreen, the electric piano comes across more intimately, as the instrument’s tones ring with sweetness and darkness. It’s a disquieting, captivating performance.
Another unlikely transition, as “Wreck” drops into “Real World,” played as it should be on solo piano. Again Springsteen’s full-bodied vocals and stirring work on the keys combine to create one of the best renditions of “Real World” post-Christic. It’s also, notably, the first to be released in the Live Archive series from the Devils & Dust tour.
He’s on a roll now, fueling excellent interpretations of a refreshed “The Rising,” a convincing “Further On (Up the Road),” and four from Devils & Dust to finish the set. The quartet includes “The Hitter,” which ends with Bruce’s lovely falsetto, and “Matamoros Banks,” which Bruce calls the sequel to Joad’s “Across the Border,” reminding us of the deep connective tissue between the two albums and supporting shows.
The encore opens with an enchanting, Mariachified take on “Ramrod” for the first time on the tour. Quirky but fun. Next, the eternally optimistic “Land of Home and Dreams,” and finally the mesmeric pairing of “The Promised Land” and “Dream Baby Dream,” one of the true highlights of the 2005 tour.
The Ghost of Tom Joad and Devils & Dust both feature Springsteen inhabiting characters. His troubadour persona on the Joad tour afforded a bit of distance from the audience, a stance only punctured at times by tour-debuted originals like “Sell It and They Will Come”” and “I’m Turning Into Elvis,” which felt more personal in nature. The Devils & Dust songs are still character studies, but on the 2005 tour, Springsteen invited the audience on an intimate journey, revealing parts of himself in those new songs and even more through the thrilling exploration of his vast catalog.
It’d be delusional for anyone to argue that the White Stripes gig at the Troubadour in Los Angeles on July 17th of 2001 was the primary focus for the band that day. Of far more intrigue and excitement was their mid-afternoon recording of a live performance at CBS Studios for the evening broadcast of The Late Show With Craig Kilborn.
So once THAT had commenced and the Troubadour confirmed that they could pull up CBS on the television behind the bar…the rest of the day is just a bonus.
Listening back twenty years later, I have to say that the show feels unmoored without a slide blues interlude of “Death Letter” anchoring it all. I know the band didn’t play “Death Letter” at EVERY show, but damn, at this point in the career, it seems like it was all but a given.
So what a delight it is for off-the-cuff covers like Tommy Johnson’s “Cool Drink of Water Blues” and Gene Vincent’s “Baby Blue” and “Farmer John” by Don and Dewey all to sit comfortably among the standards of the era like “Dead Leaves” and “Little Room” and “The Union Forever.” The accent-based “St. James Infirmary” is always a treat and anytime any song comes after “Boll Weevil” I consider that extra special.
The celebratory feeling of seeing Jack and Meg bash out “Screwdriver” and “Your Southern Can Is Mine” on Kilborn on the modest screen behind the storied downstairs bar was probably the last moment where I most truly thought “there’s no getting bigger than this” for the White Stripes. And the fact that we’re here, now, twenty years later still talking about and sharing these recollections is all the proof I need that the White Stripes are amazingly still relevant and, in many ways, still getting bigger.
The bigger the venue, the more vibe matters. That’s not to say stadium shows in the US and especially Europe aren’t filled with longtime fans hanging on every note. They always represent, holding up signs and requesting songs. But stadium concerts are inherently more inclusive, pulling in the one-show-per-tour types, their friends, and folks who just want a fun night out at the biggest event in town.
An audience composed of those who own Tracks and those who perhaps only own Greatest Hits can spur discord. How do you construct a show that delivers the friendly and familiar while still managing to delight those who know just how many times a particular song has been played on the tour?
Boston 8/15/12 stands as a model of how to satisfy both camps and then some. On a warm (and later wet) night at Fenway Park in Boston, Bruce throws a summer party where all are welcome and those with whom he and the band have a long-term relationship are recognized and rewarded.
Apropos of the venue, the show opens with a recording “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” sending the cue that this is a participatory event. Roy Bittan and Bruce then surprise the Fenway faithful with another prelude: the stripped-down, piano arrangement of “Thunder Road” that opened shows in 1975.
It is fascinating to hear this version of “Thunder Road” (familiar to many as the first song on Live/1975-85) performed 37 years later by the same musicians—reinterpreting yet again their Born to Run tour reinterpretation of the original. In 2012, Bruce’s voice has a distinctly mature timbre, and his cadence and lyrical emphasis have shifted. Roy’s piano playing is less Broadway, still carrying the melody but in a slightly abstract expression. “Thunder Road ’75” is the first of three direct nods Bruce makes at Fenway to the way particular songs were performed in the ’70s.
Out of that sublime opening, Bruce declares, “Let’s start with the summertime hits!” The party has begun. In quick succession, we get “Hungry Heart,” “Sherry Darling,” a cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” and a request granted for Bruce’s own “Girls in Their Summer Clothes.” Springsteen’s controlled and precise singing on the Beach Boys-flavored “Summer Clothes” is impressive, especially given he had only performed it once before on the tour.
Boston 8/15/12 also does right by Springsteen’s then-current album, Wrecking Ball, hitting “We Take Care of Our Own,” “Death to My Hometown” and the title track in the first half of the set, plus “Shackled and Drawn” a couple of hours in. Along with “My City of Ruins,” the five songs form the spiritual backbone of the Wrecking Ball set and showcase the rich, rootsy sound of the expanded E Street Band.
Tracks-owning, sign-holding fans certainly got their money’s worth in an extraordinary five-song sequence that kicks off with a request for “Knock on Wood.” “If we don’t know this one we should be castigated,” says Bruce, who can be forgiven for not recalling that the band played “Knock on Wood” once before. At a 1976 show at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Bruce invited “Knock on Wood” writer and singer Eddie Floyd to perform the tune with the E Street Band.
Some 36 years later, mental memories have faded but muscle memory remains, and the band performs “Knock on Wood” with aplomb. Max Weinberg is on point, Stevie Van Zandt channels Steve Cropper, and Bruce has big fun with his vocals. As for the horns, as Springsteen himself says, “Any self-respecting horn section should be able to pull this off.”
Next up, “for our old, old, old, old, old fans,” a marvelous, horn-led “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” The sprightly rendition features Bruce calling out the arrangement to the band. There’s even time for a percussion solo from Everett Bradley.
“We’re gonna go further back now,” Springsteen proclaims. “Back in the day we were opening up for a lot of unusual bands. We opened up for Anne Murray…Black Oak Arkansas…Brownsville Station…Sha Na Na…The Eagles…Chicago. Nobody knew who you were…You had to catch people’s ears, so we came up with these very convoluted songs that had a lot of moving parts. This was our first showstopper.”
That early-’70s showstopper, before “Rosalita” began serving the purpose, is the rollicking “Thundercrack.” Its thrilling twists and turns work as well to attract those unfamiliar in a stadium as they did in the clubs back in the day. Bruce gives props to his history in Beantown at the start of the song, saying that, unlike some other cities, “This is Boston, you guys are gonna know this one.” Following ten minutes of “Thundercrack,” Bruce honors another request many of us would co-sign with the second performance of “Frankie” on the tour and only the fourth of the modern era.
“Frankie” dates from the period between Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town, having debuted on stage in early 1976; the song was then recorded, but ultimately not used, for both Darkness and Born in the U.S.A. The lilting, romantic mini-epic was finally released on Tracks and returned to the set for one-off appearances in 1999 and 2003 (at Fenway, in fact) that didn’t quite land.
The Boston performance of “Frankie” is enchanting, rearranged from the ’76 edition to include the horns and feature a new guitar solo in place of Clarence’s original sax break. Like “Thundercrack,” the sweet, hooky “Frankie” has the power to enchant newcomers and satisfy those who have longed to hear it played live.
If “Frankie” wasn’t enough, what came next was the coup de grace. There was a time when it seemed unimaginable Springsteen would play songs he hadn’t performed since the ’70s or early ‘80s. I followed the Tunnel of Love tour for two dozen dates in 1988, a stretch when the setlist remained unusually static and single additions to the show were regarded as momentous.
I’m trying to imagine this conversation taking place in 1988:
Prophetic Person: “In the future, there will be a show in Boston where Springsteen plays these five songs in a row: a cover of “Knock on Wood,” “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?,” “Thundercrack,” and “Frankie.”
Me: “What? Are you insane? There is no WAY that will ever happen. And I thought you said five songs.”
Prophetic Person: “The fifth is “Prove It All Night” with the 1978 intro.
Me: “SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!”
Springsteen playing songs he hasn’t done in decades is one thing; resurrecting arrangements from a specific tour is quite another. Yet thanks to some superfan in Spain who held up a sign at the Barcelona show in May, Bruce revisited the Darkness tour’s long and legendary piano-guitar intro to “Prove It All Night.”
The Boston show marks the first time the intro has been played in the US since a still-unexplained, two-show resurrection in Los Angeles in 1980. While not as fully developed as the original, the spirit of “Prove It All Night ‘78” remains intact, as brooding piano and searing guitar build to a crescendo to start the song. Coupled with “Thunder Road ‘75,” Boston 8/15/12 is the next best thing to a time machine.
A ’78 double-shot ensues with a bold “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” then a moment of fun. At the start of “Working on the Highway” we hear an extended section of acoustic guitar strumming. What the Archive audio doesn’t capture at that moment is Bruce chugging a beer and snarfing a hot dog, both of which he’d been jonesing for all night.
Before the main set ends, we get another echo of famous song arrangements of the past. Of course it is too much to call it “Backstreets ’78”; Bruce does not revisit the “Sad Eyes” interlude from the Darkness tour. But by incorporating lines from Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream,“ a cover that served as the striking show-closer for much of 2005’s Devils & Dust tour, he does take the middle break of “Backstreets” to a place reminiscent of that same stream-of-consciousness “Sad Eyes” feeling in an epic 10-minute reading.
The Fenway 2 encore opens with a brief, acoustic “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” acknowledging the drops that began falling mid-show, and slips neatly into “Rocky Ground,” the opening chords for which have never sounded more like “One Step Up.” Singer Michelle Moore crushes her vocals, as she did every night “Rocky Ground” was played.
After “Born to Run,” an abridged “Detroit Medley” yields to “Dancing in the Dark” before the tour premiere of “Quarter to Three.” The Gary U.S. Bonds classic is another sign request that Bruce quickly teaches to the backing singers, aided by the audience singing “Doh, doh” before the band has even begun. It’s yet another tip of the cap to the classic era, as “Quarter to Three” has only been played six times since the band reunited, and this might be the best of them.
As history dictates, Bruce shouts, “I’m just a prisoner of rock ‘n’ roll” to end the song, before shifting into “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.” But there’s still time for one more. The Dropkick Murphys’ Ken Casey joins Bruce at the mic, trading vocals on “American Land” to close a Grand Slam night when Bruce gave the party people and the diehards everything they could have dreamed of.