Posts Tagged ‘Patti Scialfa’

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A stunning snapshot of the Tunnel Of Love Express Tour in its purest form, Detroit 28/3/88 serves as a showcase for the album’s key songs including “Two Faces,” “All That Heaven Will Allow, “Spare Parts,” “Brilliant Disguise,” “Tougher Than The Rest, “One Step Up,” the title track and most notably the first live archive release of “Walk Like A Man.” The 30-song set also features a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” and the “Detroit Medley,” plus a bonus soundcheck performance of “Reason To Believe,” a song which never appeared in a Tunnel show.

The 1988 Tunnel of Love Express Tour was marked by material changes to the Springsteen concert baseline in place from 1978-1985. The band changed on-stage positions, setlist warhorses like “Badlands” and “Thunder Road” took a breather, and Bruce drafted in a horn section for the first time since 1977. But the true differentiator separating the ’88 tour from every other is its original narrative arc. A Tunnel performance was a blend of song selections, sequencing, and even on-stage elements that took the audience on a journey through the complex and nuanced world of adulthood and relationships: romantic, fraternal, and familial.

Bruce started Tunnel shows with an invitation along the lines of, “Are you ready to ride?” The visual metaphor on stage was that of an amusement park, implying a night of thrills, chills, and spills. Marketing for the tour intoned “This is not a dark ride,” but as Bruce wrote in “Tunnel of Love,” “the house is haunted and the ride gets rough.” Does it ever.

The Tunnel set, in story and song, explored adult life’s emotional ups and downs and the hard questions that arise when you recognize being in a deep committed relationship requires acknowledging your doubts and vulnerabilities. At the time, the tour’s setlist rigidity raised eyebrows from longtime fans, though it did loosen up as the tour wore on. But in hindsight, the initial core setlist in the tour’s first several weeks can be seen one of Bruce’s most fully realized artistic visions. Detroit 3/28/88 captures the Tunnel of Love Express Tour in its purest form.

The first set in Detroit borders on perfection, opening with a stellar version of “Tunnel of Love” into “Be True,” the latter released as a live b-side from this performance. The River-era selection serves as a showcase for the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, who was at the top of his game on the tour and blows “Be True” beautifully. Patti Scialfa’s vocals are also on point.

The resurrection of “Adam Raised a Cain” for the first time since the Darkness tour is a long-awaited return, especially with the Tunnel of Love Horns adding heft to the performance and Bruce’s guitar pushed to the fore. In terms of familial relationships, “Adam” is one end of a father-son thread that will come back later in the show with “Walk Like a Man.” But before that there is other provocative ground to cover: introspection (“Two Faces”), companionship (“All That Heaven Will Allow”), oppressive outside forces (“Seeds,” “Roulette”), shelter from those storms (“Cover Me”), self-doubt (“Brilliant Disguise”), a mother’s doubt (“Spare Parts”), and lastly the lingering impact of the Vietnam War (“War,” “Born In the U.S.A.”).

The sequencing of the set is so strong that the transitions between tracks are as memorable as the songs themselves. “Tunnel” gives way to the soaring “Be True.” “Roulette” ends but “Cover Me” rises from the mist in the same key. The haunting keyboards that end “Cover Me” flow straight into “Brilliant Disguise.” Every song change has been thought through and rehearsed, or in some cases newly written. The stirring piano and synthesizer suite that serves as the music bed to the introduction of “Spare Parts” is one of my favourite musical elements of the entire tour, cinematic in scope and poignant in expression. Kudos Mr. Bittan and Mr. Federici. The set ends with a brilliant “Born in the U.S.A.,” again showing that 1988 versions of the song are the most potent, driven by Bruce’s additional lyrics and storming guitar solo.

“Tougher Than the Rest” opens the second set on a majestic note and reminds us of its place among the very best songs Bruce has ever written. After a foray into longing via “Ain’t Got You” and “She’s the One,” the mood lightens with the playful and self-effacing “You Can’t Look (But You Better Not Touch)” and Geno Washington cover-turned-original (and ’88 tour exclusive)  “I’m a Coward.” The pairing of “I’m on Fire” with “One Step Up” is a trip into a particular male psyche, perhaps even the same character at two different stages of life.

“Part Man, Part Monkey” offers a humorous take on animal instincts before the overall narrative arc reaches its dénouement with “Walk Like a Man,” revisiting the father and son from “Adam Raised a Cain.” The resplendently detailed yet understated arrangement is augmented by horns and shows off the band’s vocal chops, too. Bruce’s singing stays true to the original, and there’s a real power in the sincerity of his performance.

The set ends with “Light of Day,” in a less refined, more exploratory form than later versions in ‘88. In fact, rather than bring closure, this “Light of Day” seems more a celebration of uncharted waters — the line that really stands out now, “Don’t ask me what I’m doing buddy, I don’t know,” lands like an overall commentary on the narrative that preceded it. Standouts in the encore include “Love Me Tender,” which teeters on wedding band territory until you realize that Bruce is singing the hell out of it, and a free-flowing “Detroit Medley,” with Bruce calling out key changes and the band showing off their turn-on-a-dime prowess. The medley features “Sweet Soul Music,” which gives La Bamba & Co. one of the all-time great horn parts to chew on.

For dessert, we’re treated to the second soundcheck bonus track in the live archive series, “Reason to Believe.” While Tunnel of Love setlists had fewer variants than a typical Springsteen tour, 1988 soundchecks were often wide-ranging affairs, loaded with cover songs (some of which eventually found their way into the set) and other material. As cool as those covers could be, “Reason To Believe” is even more compelling.

The song regularly featured on the Born in the U.S.A. tour but was dropped when the show moved to stadiums. Here, Bruce and the band test drive a moody, horn-accented arrangement that is reminiscent of what they would do with Woody Guthrie’s “Vigilante Man” two months later at Madison Square Garden. Springsteen’s vocals and harp are resolute, the music swampy, and the end product a beguiling alternative take on one of Springsteen’s best and, as later versions attest most mutable songs. Highs, lows, pathos, comedy, sin, redemption—the Tunnel of Love Express tour had it all, and on stage in Detroit, Bruce shared as much of himself in these rich, satisfying performances as he would do three decades later on Broadway.

Thanks Erik Flanagan

  • Bruce Springsteen – Lead vocals, guitar, harmonica; Roy Bittan – Piano, keyboards; Clarence Clemons – Tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, backing vocal; Danny Federici – Organ, glockenspiel, keyboards; accordion; Nils Lofgren – Guitars, backing vocal; Patti Scialfa – Guitar, percussion, backing vocal; Garry Tallent – Bass; Max Weinberg – Drums
  • Additional musicians: Mario Cruz – Tenor saxophone, backing vocal; Ed Manion – Baritone saxophone, backing vocal; Mark Pender – Trumpet, backing vocal; Richie “La Bamba” Rosenberg – Trombone, backing vocal; Mike Spengler – Trumpet, backing vocal
  • Also appearing as the Ringmaster – Terry Magovern

Western stars

Bruce Springsteen’s first new studio album in five years takes his music to a new place, drawing inspiration in part from the Southern California pop records of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It was recorded primarily at Springsteen’s home studio in New Jersey, with additional recording in California and New York. “This record is a return to my solo recordings featuring character driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements,” says Springsteen. “It’s a jewel box of a record.” Introduced by lead single “Hello Sunshine”, the 13 tracks of Western Stars encompass a sweeping range of American themes, of highways and desert spaces, of isolation and community and the permanence of home and hope. Ron Aniello co-produced and plays bass, keyboard, and other instruments. Patti Scialfa provides vocals and contributes vocal arrangements on four tracks. The musical arrangements include strings, horns, pedal steel and contributions from more than 20 other players including Jon Brion (celeste, Moog, farfisa), as well as guest appearances by David Sancious, Charlie Giordano, and Soozie Tyrell.

A new Bruce Springsteen record is always an event, but we haven’t had a new album of original material since 2012’s Wrecking Ball and we haven’t had a solo album since 2005’s Devils & Dust, so this feels extra special.

Here is everything you need to know about The Boss’s new effort Western Stars 

Though it’s been a little while since we had a new album proper from Springsteen, he’s not exactly been idle. He’s undertaken three world tours, grossing over $700 million between them, published his hugely acclaimed autobiography and headlined a Broadway show, appropriately named “Springsteen On Broadway”.

Originally intended to run for just six weeks, demand for tickets was so high that the show was extended again and again, finally reaching its conclusion in December last year after a staggering 14-month run. A live album was released to celebrate the show, which has also sold handsomely.

Somewhere, at the end of that process, Springsteen began to talk up plans for his new album, an album that arrives in store today (June 14th).

Ron Aniello, who has worked with Springsteen on 2012’s Wrecking Ball and 2014’s High Hopes, is back at the mixing desk for this new record. He co-produces with Springsteen himself.

Over 20 musicians have helped Springsteen out on this album, including original E Street Band keyboard player David Sancious and violinist Soozie Tyrell and organist Charlie Giordano.

Also featured is Jon Brion, whose credits include Kanye West and Fiona Apple. Springsteen’s wife and E Street bandmate Patti Scialfa has also helped out, providing a series of vocal arrangements.

As well as this, Aniello’s playing is all over the album, he provides bass, keyboards and more besides.

Western Stars finds Springsteen in a reflective mood and a long way away from the bombastic colour of High Hopes. Springsteen has talked up his love of Burt Bacharach and the pop music that came out of California in the late 1960s and early 1970s and it’s all over this album.

This is elegant, reflective Americana. It’s delicate, windswept pop, buffeted by Springsteen’s biting lyrics.

This isn’t a record for the casual Springsteen fan. There are no romping anthems or stadium fillers, but it’s a delightful record, one that will demand repeated listens and yield more and more every time. Devotees, of which there are millions, will adore it.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band had been on the road for well over a year when the Born In The USA tour wrapped up with a four-night stand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in late September 1985. Springsteen was at the absolute pinnacle of his success after seeing six straight singles from the album hit the Top Ten (with a seventh on the way) and sold out stadiums and arenas anywhere he played. A professional crew was on hand to record every night of the run for the Live 1975-85 box set, but they wound up only using recordings from night three. The tape of opening night on September 27th, 1985 has sat in the vault for the past 34 years, but today Springsteen has released it as part of his ongoing live download series.

Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, 1985 represents the apex of Bruce Springsteen’s mass popularity. No concerts performed before or since represent the same level of mainstream cultural impact inherent in the final four performances that wrapped the mammoth Born in the U.S.A. tour.

According to the LA Times, on September 27th, opening night of the sold-out stand, Bruce and the band played to 83,000 people. That means over the course of four sold-out shows, more than 330,000 people clicked the turnstiles at the site of two Olympic Games, to see not world-class athletes but the world’s greatest live performer. Staggering.

Springsteen long factored for the person in the very last row at his concerts, but now that fan was 100-150 yards from the stage. Scaling up production elements at stadiums to deliver a comparable level of band-to-fan connection was crucial, and that affected everything from the sound of Max’s drums and the quality and size of the stage-side video screens to the clothing the band wore on stage, which was brightly colored to help boost the visibility and discernibility of individual members from far away.

Los Angeles 1985 starts as it must with a dazzling “Born in the U.S.A.” Jon Altschiller’s zoomed-in mix (with a notably livelier audience levels) dials in a difficult-to-achieve balance of synthesizer and guitar. The deepest notes of the former provide a sternum-compressing whoosh that anyone who saw a BIUSA stadium show will remember; the latter more forward and clearer than we often hear on 1985 recordings. As Bruce sings, “long gone daddy in the U.S.A.,” we get some real chugga chugga licks, followed later by an extended solo that’s up there with the great ones that append the song on the 1988 Tunnel of Love tour. As for Max Weinberg, he absolutely crushes one of the best live versions of “Born in the U.S.A.” ever released.

At this point of the 1984-85 tour, the E Street Band was a machine in the best sense of that word, operating under both Bruce’s and the individual players’ master control. The transition from “U.S.A.” to “Badlands” is lush with Danny Federici organ swirls, and we can hear every band member in sharp detail right down to Clarence Clemons’ percussion.

LA 1985 is rife with distinct moments worth highlighting: Bruce singing out, “debts that no honest man could pay” with particular passion on “Atlantic City,” and matching that energy again for the last line of “Downbound Train”; the happiness in his voice ahead of “Glory Days” as he talks about turning 36 four days prior; Patti Scialfa’s soaring high notes that raise “Trapped” to full crescendo; Clarence’s under-appreciated solo on the same song releasing the pent-up tension that makes the arrangement so mesmerizing; the heightened peaks of the extended “Cover Me” that finally relent to the breakneck release of “Dancing in the Dark” (the exclusion of which from Live/1975-85 still puzzles); Roy’s best Jerry Lee Lewis impression splashing all over a rip-roaring and rarely played “Stand On It.”

But the E Street MVP this night is Nils Lofgren. LA 1985 is an opportunity for reappreciation of how much of the load he carried on the tour and the many spots when he shined. His intro to “Seeds” oozes dirtier than you might recall, and the hypnotic prelude to “I’m on Fire” alters the tone of the song significantly.

As Nils plays, Springsteen’s spoken introduction to “I’m on Fire” (omitted on Live/1975-85) subtly shifts the song’s narrative, too. He speaks of the struggles endured by his father and mother, and of his fear that, if he didn’t get out, whatever sense of hope and happiness was figuratively dying inside his dad would be his fate as well. Lying awake in bed, thinking dark thoughts like one of the characters he wrote about on Nebraska, the narrator confesses he understands how one could snap. It makes the “Hey little girl is your daddy home” that follows more of a disturbing dream.

What’s commendable given the circumstances and stakes surrounding LA 1985 is that Bruce is still taking risks and using his status to make a statement. The night marks the daring debut of Edwin Starr’s righteous anthem “War,” written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield. With lyrics taped to his forearm, Springsteen tears into the anti-war cry, in a version appealingly raw compared to the finished track that would later become the first single released from Live/1975-85. For a man whose messages and political views had been co-opted and misinterpreted of late, “War” allows zero ambiguity, no more so than when Bruce implores, “Tell your mama!” Nils adds another compelling guitar intro here, as Bruce sounds his solemn warning that “blind faith in anything…will get you killed.”

The bulk of LA 1985 is made up of what might be called a refined stadium setlist, optimized for maximum impact in venues of this scale. Over the last 34 years, so-called stadium friendly material suggested something that couldn’t compare to the greatest theater and arena performances that preceded it. Yet listening today, one marvels at how skillfully the band is playing in front of 83,000, not merely showing themselves up to the task of reaching that distant back row but retaining the tightness, power, and nuance that made them the best live act in the world. In other words, don’t sleep on ‘85.

Stadium staples aside, let’s not overlook the second of the night’s world premieres. “Alright, let’s try it” serves as the rallying cry to the live debut of “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart,” the charming Born in the U.S.A. outtake and “I’m Goin’ Down” b-side that is a kindred spirit to another equally enchanting leftover, “Be True.” Both share a certain mid-tempo melodic romanticism that marks a lot of the songs Bruce often left on the cutting room floor. It’s a winning version that curiously omits The Big Man’s recorded sax solo in favor of piano solo by The Professor. Listen for Bruce hooting encouragement and howling with glee as Roy takes the spotlight. He clearly likes Janey.

The show wraps fittingly with a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band,” resplendent with Clarence’s baritone sax, Roy’s piano fills, and nearly a dozen tour-stop name checks. It’s the perfect selection for the end of the line, recalling the mystery train that left the station at a St. Paul arena 15 months earlier and wound up conquering the world by the time it came to a halt in LA, playing to an audience more than five times the size.

Thanks Erik Flanagan

Springsteen 11/8/96

This memorable homecoming stop on the Tom Joad tour sees Springsteen return to Freehold and his parochial school, St. Rose of Lima  Gymnasium in his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey on November 8th, 1996.. Joined by special guests Patti Scialfa and Violinist Soozie Tyrell joined in on six songs including “The River” and “Racing in the Street.”  Patti Scialfa added backing vocals to three songs with Springsteen and Tyrell, including the second-ever performance of “When You’re Alone” from the Tunnel of Love album.  It has only been performed live 10 times since this concert.   Bruce reminisces and tears up the set list for nine tour debuts, including “The River,” “Two Hearts” “Racing in the Street,” and a rare “When You’re Alone” and the only tour performances of “Open All Night,” “Used Cars” and “My Hometown.” The concert was capped off by the premiere of a song Springsteen had written especially for the occasion: “Freehold.”  The nine-minute number has Bruce recollecting some of his experiences growing up in the town.  It has never had a studio version released and has only been performed infrequently since its debut at this show.

Springsteen offered reminisces about his time growing up in Freehold during the concert.  Most of the concert featured Bruce going through the core of his his normal setlist from the Joad tour, but there were some variations especially chosen for the night.  Out of the 25 songs performed, nine were making their tour premieres.

This concert came in the middle of Springsteen’s solo acoustic tour for the Ghost of Tom Joad album.  However, this performance was even more intimate than most on the tour.  With all proceeds benefitting the Latino community center at the St. Rose of Lima Church, the concert was held in the church’s gymnasium with all attendees sitting in bleacher or folding chairs.  Tickets were only available to Freehold residents.

All volumes of The Bruce Springsteen Archive Series, plus concerts from 2014, 2016 and 2017, are available at Springsteen’s official live store for download and physical purchase.

Nearly three years ago, Bruce Springsteen’s archival download series delivered a previously un-bootlegged gem: Brendan Byrne Arena, August 5th, 1984, the first high-quality Born in the U.S.A. tour soundboard from multi-tracks and opening night of the ten-show New Jersey homecoming run. Now, the stunning complement arrives, August 20th, 1984, final night of that Brendan Byrne stand.

The latest archival release from Bruce Springsteen finds him at the peak of his commercial powers, performing in support of Born in the U.S.A.in 1984. This is the first complete recording to be officially issued from that tour.

This 1984 concert, taped at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J., follows earlier releases focusing on shows at Cleveland in 1978 and Springsteen’s most recent concerts in support of 2014’s High Hopes. Thirty of that tour’s 35 stops were also made available via live.brucespringsteen.net.

On August. 5th, 1984, Springsteen and the E Street Band played songs from Born in the U.S.A.album, which was release two months earlier, as well as a bunch of older favorites. The concert also featured their take on Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl.” . The E Street Band had recently been remade during this period following Steven Van Zandt’s departure. Springsteen had added both Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa, who would eventually become Springsteen’s wife, to the lineup. The August 5th show also marked the first of 10 nights at Brendan Byrne. Now we have the final night of those landmark shows featuring memorable guest appearances by Stevie Van Zandt and the Miami Horns, 20th August 84 is justifiably regarded as one of the best shows of the tour and earns a place on the short list of Bruce’s most celebrated shows of all time as much because of what it represented as the music performed. 

Mixed by Jon Altschiller and mastered at Gateway.
SET ONE
BORN IN THE USA
OUT IN THE STREET
SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT
ATLANTIC CITY
JOHNNY 99
HIGHWAY PATROLMAN
I’M GOIN’ DOWN
DARLINGTON COUNTY
GLORY DAYS
THE PROMISED LAND
MY HOMETOWN
DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
BADLANDS
THUNDER ROAD
SET TWO
HUNGRY HEART
DANCING IN THE DARK
CADILLAC RANCH
TENTH AVENUE FREEZE-OUT
NO SURRENDER
COVER ME
PROVE IT ALL NIGHT
PINK CADILLAC
GROWIN’ UP
BOBBY JEAN
BACKSTREETS
ROSALITA (COME OUT TONIGHTENCORE
JUNGLELAND
TWO HEARTS
DRIFT AWAY
BORN TO RUN
DETROIT MEDLEY
TWIST AND SHOUT – DO YOU LOVE ME

Bruce Springsteen On Broadway Lights

Bruce Springsteen  has performed at just about every great venue on the planet: the Stone Pony, Madison Square Garden, the O2 Arena, the Hollywood Bowl, Red Rocks Amphitheater, football stadiums, state fairs, and now…Broadway?. On Tuesday, the 67-year-old icon began preview performances for his scheduled four-month run at the Walter Kerr Theatre, a 975-seat room on West 48th Street whose notable productions include Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.

The rumor mill can officially stop churning: Bruce Springsteen has made it to Broadway and we have our first round of first-hand accounts from what attendees say was a “magical, special” night.

The Boss’s four-month residency at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York kicked off Tuesday night with its first preview show, and as you’d imagine, folks who made it to the very first “Springsteen on Broadway” performance were thrilled.

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It was just Bruce on a very sparse stage with just a black grand piano, and a few acoustic guitars. The “set” was just a grey wall and a few of those metal touring cases that bands use on the road for their gear. The best parts of the show were when he sat at the piano and sang and talked. I’d never seen him do that before so it was really special.”

Clad in his usual black attire, Springsteen opened the show on a somber note, Springsteen dedicated the Tuesday show to fellow rocker Tom Petty, who died Monday, sending prayers to members of The Heartbreakers and Petty’s family, Otherwise it appears the rehearsal rumors are true, that Springsteen mixes in a set list of hits, played on guitar and piano, with stories in a theater small enough to feel like a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Boss diehards.

What follows is two hours of music and storytelling interlaced with a kind of warm intimacy. There are anecdotes that might serve as footnotes to his arena shows, and passages some might recognise from last year’s autobiography, but given new life here as if they were always meant to be performed,

 

Springsteen stuck to his script, sharing recollections and reading passages from his bestselling memoir, Born to Run, as well as performing some of his best-known songs, He kicked things off by discussing his childhood, and how he acquired his first guitar, which he paired with a performance of “Growin Up,” from his 1973 debut Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Others such as Dancing in the Dark and Thunder Road lying alongside quieter moments such as My Father’s House and The Promised Land. Many are reimagined for the occasion  Growin’ Up, from Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ (1973), is spun out across several minutes, at one point taking on a kind of incantatory reverie that recalls Van Morrison’s Coney Island. Born in the USA, meanwhile, is recast as sour, lost-souled blues. “It is,” he reminds the crowd, “a protest song.”

He also shared the impact of reading veteran Ron Kovic’s memoir Born on the Fourth of July before performing his song inspired by it, “Born in the U.S.A.,”

Among the evening’s most arresting moments is the arrival on stage of Springsteen’s wife, singer-songwriter and E Street Band member Patti Scialfa. She accompanies him on Tougher Than the Rest and Brilliant Disguise, two songs from Tunnel of Love – the album he wrote in the wake of his split from his first wife Julianne Phillips. At an arena show these moments can be engulfed by the scale of the production, but here there’s a fragility and a new light cast on the songs and his relationship with Scialfa, as if he stands in her emotional shadow.

Setlist: Bruce Springsteen Walter Kerr Theatre, Broadway, New York – October 3rd, 2017 1. “Growin’ Up” 2. “My Hometown” 3. “My Father’s House” 4. “The Wish” 5. “Thunder Road” 6. “The Promised Land” 7. “Born in the U.S.A.” 8. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” 9. “Tougher Than the Rest” 10. “Brilliant Disguise” 11. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” 12. “Long Walk Home” 13. “Dancing in the Dark” 14. “Land of Hope and Dreams” 15. “Born to Run”

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Critics and press were invited to a performance next week: stay tuned for more reviews.