Bruce Springsteen, an electrical whirlwind against nuclear


Updated:25/11/2021 13:57h


Explode ‘Badlands’, With his orgy of keyboards and those trotting guitars, and Bruce turns his guitar around, hangs it on his back like a ninja sword instead of a Telecaster and, as if crossed by a high tension cable, he grabs the microphone to sing , almost roaring, that of «Badlands, you gotta live it everyday / Let the broken hearts stand / As the price you’ve gotta pay». Behind him, the always imperturbable Max Weinberg, exemplary metronome of the E Street Band, she shakes cymbals and cymbals as her bangs take on a life of their own.

It’s only the second song and the Madison Square Garden it is already a riot. A pressure cooker that bursts with pleasure and joy as Bruce jumps, Clarence Clemons spins on its own axis like a dervish afflicted with gigantism and Steve VanZandt, the faithful squire, threatens to revive his boss when he theatrically collapses during the volcanic ‘Quarter To Three’.

“I can not take it anymore. I can not continue like this. I am 30 years old!”, Bruce lets go, joking and wild, in one of the braking stops that interrupt the marathon and feverish version of Gary US Bonds. But it can. Sure it can.

There it is, to prove it, this anthological and overwhelming performance; a concert that for four decades had been kept under lock and key and
that now sees the light in the form of a film and a live album.
Two for one to commemorate the overwhelming participation of Springsteen and the E Street Band in an anti-nuclear benefit concert orchestrated by the collective MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) in September 1979. A marathon performances motivated by the accident months earlier at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania, and to which Springsteen, little given to being seen in this type of saraos, attended to wire his friend Jackson Browne.

He would be in charge of closing with two concerts at Madison Square Garden a week of activism marked by the performances of Crosby, Stills & Nash, James Taylor, Carly Simon, Chaka Khan, Gil Scott-Heron and Tom Petty, among others. None as memorable, however, as Springsteen and the E Street Band. The best moment of the author of ‘Jungleland’? If it isn’t, it looks a lot like it. “At an hour and seven minutes, which is when ‘The Detroit Medley’ begins, you reach a level of energy rarely seen. Bruce is transported to a space where the endorphins have been completely released. It is floating in pure energy. It’s spectacular, “he recalled in ‘Rolling Stone’ Jon Landau, historic manager of the New Jersey.

No wonder: after nine months locked up working on what would become ‘The River’, that rock and roll bacchanal with sharp sideburns and glorious winds, the E Street Band was a locomotive without brakes; an erupting volcano that reached its boiling point on September 21-22, 1979 at Madison Square Garden. A bacchanal that, from ‘Prove It All Night’ to the resounding version of ‘Rave On’, said goodbye to the seventies using the embers of ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ to set fire to the rock akelarre waiting around the corner. The appointment also had something of a rite of passage and an explosive birthday party, since Springsteen said goodbye to his twenties and turned 30 on the 23rd. On stage, a cake reminds us of the date, although, things rock and roll, it doesn’t take long to shoot back into the audience.

Original recordings

A feast size of endorphins now gives a good account of a documentary that the editor Thom Cold, Springsteen’s regular collaborator and responsible, among others, for the assembly of the also legendary ‘Hammersmith Odeon London’ from 1975, he has assembled from the original signals of each of the cameras that recorded the two performances. The technical display was remarkable, but at the time Springsteen was not enthusiastic about the idea of ​​his concerts being filtered through cameras and screens, so only three recordings have circulated during these years: ‘Thunder Road’, ‘Quarter To Three ‘and ‘The River’, song that premiered those nights to the amazement of his sister Virginia, present in the venue and the protagonist of the lyrics at no veil.

Springsteen in his prime
Springsteen, in his prime – ABC

The energy is such that, at times, rather than playing, it seems that the band shakes off the songs by slapping. This is the case of a dizzying ‘Born To Run’ served at full speed and, above all, of the full and exhausting ‘Rosalita’, 12 minutes of spasms and winds in a state of grace. “It’s a band that was exploding on the screen”, recognized in an interview Zimny, whose job has been to select the best of the two nights and condense it into an hour and a half of electric spell. There it is, for example, the still unreleased ‘Sherry Darling’ or a version of ‘Stay’ served alongside Jackson Browne and Tom Petty.

Of which there is no trace is the tense moment in which Springsteen located his ex-girlfriend Lynn Goldsmith taking photos among the public and expelled her from the venue. An uncomfortable moment that Zimny ​​has left out of the footage for, he says, lacking musical interest in the narrative of a performance with which Springsteen, until then a lone ranger, began to take an interest in politics.

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