Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Live in New York City
Recorded live at Madison Square Garden, as Bruce Springsteen's yearlong reunion tour with The E Street Band wound down last year, this 20-song, double CD set serves as the companion piece to the Jersey's rocker's recent HBO special.
It offers a healthy mix of typical Springsteen concert staples, such as “Born to Run,” “Prove it All Night,” and “The River,” along with less familiar tracks like the steel-splashed “Mansion on the Hill,” the gritty “Youngstown,” and the rockin' set-opener “My Love Will Not Let You Down.”
The album reaches a fever point with the jubilant “Out in the Street,” and a celebratory, 16-minute version of “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” The latter includes bits of Al Green's “Take Me to the River,” Springsteen's lusty ode to his wife and bandmate Patty Scialfa (“Red Headed Woman”) and Scialfa's own brief showcase, “Rumble Doll,” the title cut from her 1993 solo album of the same name.
The CD includes two new Springsteen songs. The first, “Land of Hope and Dreams,” is a modern day answer to Curtis Mayfield's “People Get Ready,” complete with a passionate promise that “faith will be rewarded.” The other new track, “American Skin (41 Shots),” is far more controversial. A blistering indictment of the 1999 New York police shooting of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant, its performance at the end of the tour triggered police pickets outside Madison Square Garden. Though he's always been revered as a blue collar populist, Springsteen has rarely, if ever, taken on such a highly charged topic. He does so convincingly here, raging against injustice with precision-like authority.
Thankfully, Springsteen did tag onto the end of the second CD several rarities that were not part of the HBO special. Along with songs such as “Don't Look Back” and the poignant “If I Should Fall Behind,” the highlight—by far—is an incredible version of “Lost in the Flood,” which first appeared in studio form on Springsteen's 1973 debut “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”