Born To Run At The Palace Complete (no label)
The Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI, USA – 13 November, 2009
Disc 1: Intro, Wrecking Ball, Prove It All Night, Johnny 99, Hungry Heart, Working On A Dream, Thunder Road, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Night, Backstreets, Born To Run, She’s The One, Meeting Across The River
Disc 2: Jungleland, Working On The Highway, Raise Your Hand [/You Sexy Thing], Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, Detroit Medley, Because The Night, Lonesome Day, The Rising, Badlands
Disc 3: MC, Hard Times (Come Again No More), Born In The U.S.A., American Land, Dancing In The Dark, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
The complete album performance of Born To Run from Auburn Hills has been available for a while on the single-disc Social Graces release Born Again. This is, as the Brucebase website points out, sourced from “an excellent IEM recording,” and it has already received a favourable review. Now this new 3-disc set brings us the full IEM-sourced Auburn Hills performance.
“I’ve been waiting forty years to fuck that one up,” Springsteen told the audience early in the show. This was the result of forgetting which state he was in, making three references to Ohio rather than Michigan. Having warmly greeted the audience with “Good evening, Ohio!” before the opening number, Wrecking Ball, he again referred to Ohio during the song itself. Before the fifth number, Working On A Dream, he once more shouted, “Good evening, Ohio!” (finally prompting a few boos) before guitarist Steve Van Zandt stepped in and corrected him. Eventually, after the conclusion of the song, we hear a rather embarrassed Springsteen tell the audience that he has just experienced “every frontman’s lead fucking nightmare,” which, at the age of sixty, he attributes to “the onset of early Alzheimer’s. (During the Wrecking Ball Tour show at this venue in April 2012 a fan handed Springsteen a large hand-drawn map with an arrow and the words, “Bruce, you are HERE.”)
Notwithstanding this embarrassing and repeated error, it is clear that the audience is enjoying the initial stages of the show. An exuberant Wrecking Ball opens, followed by a strong performance of Prove It All Night, culminating with what Matt Orel, writing on the Backstreets website, calls an “incendiary” guitar solo from Nils Lofgren. Then comes what he identifies as a “roaring” version of Johnny 99, complete with train whistle backing vocals and instrumental locomotive noises, which he considers a highlight of the show. After a month-and-a-half’s absence from the set, this proved to be the last performance of the song on the Working On A Dream Tour. Hungry Heart provides the audience with the opportunity for a singalong and this is followed by Working On A Dream. The title track was the only song from the Working On A Dream album to be played during this show, prompting Orel to write of, “the de-emphasizing of the current album.”. By this stage of the tour it often served, as it does here, to end the early part of the show, appearing immediately before the full album performances.
The Born To Run performance occupies the rest of disc one and the opening of disc two, unfortunately separating Jungleland from Meeting Across the River, which provides such an effective prelude to the former song on the album. Readers are directed to my review of Born Again for a full appreciation of this section of the show, which I considered to be “most impressive.”
After the last strains of the epic Jungleland have died away, the show continues with a lively version of Working On The Highway. This is followed by Raise Your Hand, which served as the sign collection song, so that we get a lengthy instrumental opening section before we hear Springsteen sing. The song ends with an excerpt from Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing. The first of the three requested songs, unsurprisingly given the location of the show, is Bob Seger’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. This is Springsteen’s second fully public rendition of the song, the previous one having been at the same venue with the “Other Band” in 1992, though there were three performances at benefit shows for Rumford County Day School in 2002 and 2003 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, with the audience limited to parents of the school’s pupils, teachers and what Brucebase terms “school supporters.”
Matt Orel comments on Ramblin’ Gablin’ Man and the next two songs on the Backstreets website:
“The accepted requests had a distinctive Michigan flavour, first with Bob Seger’s ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’…and then with the ‘Detroit Medley,’ Bruce started ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man by playing the distinctive opening keyboard riff on guitar, and with that started a three-pack dance party right in the middle of the set, with Bruce playing guitar slinger throughout..[a] blistering solo in ‘Because The Night.'”
Excellent versions of Lonesome Day and The Rising follow, before Badlands brings the main set to a triumphant conclusion.
The encore kicks off with a fine rendition of Hard Times (Come Again No More) and then comes what Orel considers to be another highlight of the show, “a thundering performance” of Born In The U.S.A. A splendid run of encore songs continues with American Land, Dancing In The Dark and Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) before (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher, in Orel’s words, “close[s] the show on a high.” Overall, this is a very fine performance which Orel calls “a magnificent show” and which attendee dukat1, posting on the Guitars101 site reckons “a great show…A much better show than the Magic Tour show at the Palace a couple years ago.”
The discs are housed in a thick jewel case with rather simple packaging featuring several onstage shots, with the track listing and band personnel in the customary small type of Lighthouse-related releases. Eric Meola’s cover shot of Born To Run appears on the front merged with an onstage photo of the band and the inner side of the rear insert features another shot of Springsteen and Clarence Clemons from the same photo shoot.
Bonus DVD-Rs: Plays Epic Show In Philly 2012
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA, USA – 2 September, 2012
Disc 1: Summertime Blues, Out In The Street, Sherry Darling, Hungry Heart, We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball, Death To My Hometown, Lost In The Flood, My City Of Ruins, Spirit In The Night
Disc 2: Green Onions, Good Rockin’ Tonight, Cadillac Ranch, I’m On Fire, Candy’s Room, [Mona/]She’s The One, Jack Of All Trades, Human Touch, Working On The Highway, Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, Jersey Girl, The Rising, Badlands
Disc 3: Land Of Hope And Dreams, We Are Alive, Thunder Road, Born to Run, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out, You Can’t Sit Down, Twist And Shout
If you are fortunate enough to acquire this release with the bonus DVD-Rs you will be able to view the first of two concerts played on consecutive nights at the Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia in September 2012, the first time that Springsteen has played at this venue. The start of the show is summed up by Glenn Radecki on Backstreets as follows:
“The E Street Band’s first ever show at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park was a 33-song, three-hour-and-43-minute extravaganza, complete with a strong performance, an energized crowd, and numerous rarities, befitting the band’s reputation for wild Philadelphia setlists – and this was only night one.
Things started with Charlie Giordano playing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ on organ, followed by Bruce again invoking the summertime theme for the first few songs of the show. ‘Welcome to the Labor Day labor of love!’ was his greeting to ‘my people! before kicking things off with ‘Summertime Blues’ and then a trio of crowd-pleasers from the River album.”
Caryn Rose, writing on Jukeboxgraduate.com, sums up those three songs, Out In The Street, Sherry Darling and Hungry Heart as, “a lineup made for a summertime stadium show.”
Springsteen and the band then play three consecutive songs from the Wrecking Ball album, We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown. John J. Moser, posting on the Lehigh Valley Music website, notes that, “when he did play songs from ‘Wrecking Ball,’ they were much more defiant – even joyous.” He was particularly impressed by a “burning, simmering” We Take Care of Our Own and a “great” and “defiant” Death to My Hometown with, “Springsteen marching to its Celtic rock bagpipe sounds as his E Street Band – eight players, two background singers and five horns – lined up at the front of the stage.”
Next comes a superb performance of Lost In The Flood, played by “special request,” of which Rose writes: “It was spacious, powerful, solemn; at the end, Bruce turned his back on the crowd, pulling the guitar neck back, spotlit in blue; he finished, held up one arm and with his fingers, gently cued Roy into the outro. I had goosebumps.”
The first disc ends with My City Of Ruins and Spirit In The Night. Of the former, Holly Cara Price writes on Springsteen’s official site:
“‘My City of Ruins’ is the moment where the show takes a beat, pauses to reflect and remember. As Bruce said to the crowd, ‘This is a song about ghosts…deeper than memory, they get in your bones, in your blood, they become part of what you are…Ghosts walk alongside of you and remind you of the preciousness of life.’ The song, originally written about the demise of Asbury Park, has come full circle and now has clearly become much more personal. It’s about those who are no longer up there on that stage: two men who were a fundamental part of the sound of the E Street Band for decades. And a man who stood larger than life up there, holding a saxophone, a man who embodied so much of the E Street Band dream, who leaves a gaping hole (‘you took my heart when you left’…’tell me how do I begin again’). Bruce urged the crowd to give voice to their pain (‘Are we missing anybody? Let me hear your voices’), as the music swells and we embrace the loss so we can all move on, always honoring the past, the ghosts. ‘I wish you a life filled with many ghosts,’ he smiled, and meant it.”
Though I am not enamoured with the way Spirit In The Night has come to be performed, Moser is more positive describing this rendition as, “powerful,” with Springsteen, “shaking his arms and clenching his fists, preaching as if at a Southern tent revival.”
Disc two begins with Green Onions, which functions as the sign collection song. The horns feature prominently on a slightly ragged but fun version of tour premiere Good Rockin’ Tonight and the frivolity continues with Cadillac Ranch. The audience sings along to I’m On Fire and this is followed by Candy’s Room, which features some blistering guitar work, and an energetic She’s The One, with Mona serving as a prelude and a harmonica part at the end. Then comes a poignant Jack Of All Trades. Price writes:
“A collective deep breath was taken during ‘Jack of All Trades,’ which to me is a touchstone of the current tour. Besides the message which reflects ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ in that ‘baby we’ll be alright’ in spite of the horrors lurking outside our doors, there’s the melody itself. And the ending, with the sobbing violin that never ceases to bring tears to my eyes, the trumpet, Nils’ soaring guitar solo, and Bruce somberly playing the big drum as the notes fade.”
Clearly, many of those who witnessed the show were very impressed, though one dissenting voice belongs to Joe Pelone, writing on punknews.org, who states that Jack Of All Trades was played in, “a surprisingly limp version.” He also cites the song and the next two numbers, Human Touch and Working On The Highway, as prime examples of, “a few tunes that fit [Springsteen’s] themes but few people really needed to hear,” further noting that the second half of the show “faltered a bit.”
Despite Pelone’s view, I consider Human Touch (which made its tour debut at the previous concert in Vernon, NY) another highlight of this show. Radecki contends that, “Bruce outdid himself here, first with a fiery guitar part and then locking in with Max and Roy as they extended the instrumental guitar, synthesizer, and drum part at the end of the song.” Moser writes that the song was, “perhaps the show’s best, a smoldering, spiritual [performance] that burned into the soul before Springsteen unleashed an incendiary guitar solo.”
“‘Working on the Highway’ is a delight,” argues Price, “and tonight the background singers were joined by Garry Tallent’s lissome daughter Olivia, and Michelle Moore’s eight year old little girl. ‘Shackled and Drawn,’ which gets better every show, is beyond belief at this point…and has now been enlivened by an ensemble shuffle at the end with the entire front line.” Waitin’ On A Sunny Day contains the usual vocal slot for a child from the audience, and this is followed by the tour premiere of Jersey Girl. Chris Sikich, on the website of radio station WXPN, writes of , “the white-hot fire breathed into a rarely performed but oft-requested cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Jersey Girl’ that knocked the socks off of Citizens Bank Park.” The first disc then concludes with strong performances of The Rising and Badlands.
The third disc opens with set closer Land Of Hope And Dreams. According to Rose, “the song keeps getting better; now they’re opening with this powerful acoustic strumming by Nils, it’s just so focused and straight and direct, not too many twists into ‘People get ready’ territory, and it is a true set closer right now, powerful and summational and grand.” Then comes the show’s epic encore, over an hour in length, which Radecki summarizes thus:
“Following an extremely long main set, Bruce turned to his live favorites in the encore, with a massive sing-along on ‘Thunder Road,’ the upper decks of the park jumping during ‘Rosalita,’ and not one but two cover songs following ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-out.’ Introduced as ‘the roots of Philadelphia rock ‘n’ roll,’ the crowd was treated to the Dovells’ ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ [another tour premiere] before the now-standard ‘Twist and Shout.’ Although the rain held off for the show, the humidity didn’t, and as things drew to a close, Bruce was hardly the only person in the building drenched. ‘Are you hot? Are you sweaty? Are you truly uncomfortable? Are you too sexy for your shirt?’ he asked the crowd – ‘that’s rock ‘n’ roll!'”
This is a terrific show, which Price sums up as follows:
“All in all, an incredible show fully worthy of any of those he’s done in Philadelphia before; sorrow and joy, looking back, looking forward, and a liberal dose of the silly sauce we all need as we go on back outside to our everyday lives. With a big smile on our faces. And our feet still dancing.”
Even Pelone is positive about the show as a whole, contending that, “the bulk of the set was amazing,” (particularly an “inspirational” My City Of Ruins) and that it was, “a great concert…Elsewhere in the city, Pearl Jam and X were playing Jay-Z’s Made in America festival, but this was still the show to see.”
The source for this release is, “A Tapehead2 Production,” and it is a single camera audience shot, which moves around appropriately, for example following Springsteen as he leaves the main section of the stage to interact with the audience, but almost entirely (save a couple of exceptions to show the audience) without zooming in and out. The nicely clear picture is complemented by very good sound, also audience sourced. The very start of the show is missing, so that the first disc begins with Springsteen saying, “my people!” There are also several faults which are noted on Jungleland as follows:
“Notes (all audio intact):
1) One minute around beginning of Summertime Blues patched with screen video.
2) Nine seconds at end of Spirit In The Night freeze-framed over.
3) Last minute of Good Rockin’ Tonight and first three minutes of Cadillac Ranch freeze-framed over.
4) Forty-five seconds in Jack Of All Trades freeze-framed over.
5) Twenty seconds in Human Touch freeze-framed over.
6) Thirty seconds in Working On The Highway freeze-framed over.
7) TEN MINUTES beginning immediately after Land Of Hope And Dreams, through Bruce’s PSA for Philabundance and well into We Are Alive patched over with stills.”
Again, the discs come in a thick case with fairly simple front and back inserts displaying onstage photographs.
Overall, this is a most desirable release, and the CD set of the Auburn Hills show is a release which Springsteen fans really should have in their collections. The accompanying DVD-R set also contains a very fine performance but that show has also had a separate release on the Pignon label under the title Hitting The Cycle, which has the distinct advantage of being contained on a single factory-pressed disc.