Bruce Springsteen is one of the greatest performers in rock history, and fans like me have spent years getting our hands on bootleg concert tapes. Fortunately, Bruce has been releasing more of his concerts on CD and DVD in recent years, so now we’re getting tons of excellent live versions of Springsteen songs and concert footage of some of his better shows.
In 1999 Bruce brought the E Street Band back together for an incredible reunion tour. From that tour he released the excellent “Live in New York
City” DVD, which produced some incredible live versions of some of Bruce’s best songs. Bruce and the band didn’t miss a beat from their glory days in the 1970s and ‘80s. Then in 2002, Bruce and the E Street Band released
Rising, an incredible album with many songs inspired by the 9/11 tragedy. Bruce’s personal and emotional take on those events and their impact on the survivors stands out as some of his best work since his glory days. Few artists have been able to make such a powerful artistic statement late in their career.
“Live in Barcelona” was recorded during the European leg of the Rising world tour. The songs from
The Rising come off great in concert, and this distinguishes Bruce from other great rockers like the Stones, who don’t have much new material that can justifiably be included in a concert set list. Seven of the 24 songs on this DVD come from that album.
There are some amazing, unexpected gems on this DVD as well. Toward the end of disc one, Bruce sits alone at the piano and sings “Spirit in the Night” and “Incident on 57th Street.” Both versions are memorable, as Bruce shows off his skills on the piano and proves that his voice has held up remarkably well through the years. Most die-hard Springsteen fans love “Incident of 57th Street” from Bruce’s second album. A fantastic live version with the full band was released as a b-side in the ‘80s but has never made it to a CD. This version is very different but just as good.
Another fun surprise is a guitar-heavy, “rock & roll” version of “Dancin’ in the Dark,” a far cry from the “disco” version of Bruce’s biggest hit that somehow made its way onto the radio in the ‘80s.
One of the best things about this show is the crowd. The enthusiasm was pretty amazing, and it clearly rubbed off on Bruce and the band, inspiring another great performance. The fans seemed to know all the words, even from the old stuff, and they happily joined in.
Bruce hasn’t put out nearly as much live stuff as bands like Pearl Jam, who have started releasing all of their shows, but at least he’s heading in the right direction. With
Tracks, he also released tons of older, previously unreleased material. Hopefully he’ll take the same approach with some of his old concerts as well.