Boston 1977: Are You Ready For The Final Moment? (no label)
The Boston Music Hall, Boston, MA, USA – 25 March, 1977
Disc 1: Intro, Night, Don’t Look Back, Spirit In The Night, Incident On 57th Street, Thunder Road, Mona/She’s The One, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Action In The Streets, It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
Disc 2: Backstreets, Jungleland, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), Born To Run
Disc 3: Audience, Quarter To Three, Little Latin Lupe Lu, You Can’t Sit Down, (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
Springsteen concluded the so-called Lawsuit Tour with four shows at the Boston Music Hall (22-25 March, 1977). The final show is the most well-known and best dicumented of the four, and I reviewed Godfather’s version, From The Dark Heart Of A Dream, in April 2008. Readers are directed to that review for details of the show itself and of previous releases. Suffice to say here that the show has been regarded as one of Springsteen’s best ever performances.
This new release utilizes the recent JEMS version, taken from the Steve Hopkins master tape and torrented under the title Are You Ready For The Final Moment?, which the Brucebase website considers to be “the best quality.” Notes on the Jungleland website, by “BK for JEMS,” state that: “It is certainly a show I have listened to a hundred times or more both on tape and its previous bootleg CD incarnations, all of which suffered to varying degrees from pitch issues. For these 2012 transfers, Steve Hopkins’ masters have been pitch tested and corrected (thanks J) and we can now hear this show in all its resplendent glory. I know every nook and cranny of the performance so hearing it sound so fresh has been immensely satisfying.”
Posters on Jungleland have demonstrated their admiration for this recording and for Hopkins’ talent as a taper. “These shows will now be preserved for a very long time to come in the highest-possible quality,” contends slipkid68. Hobbes4444 states, “this show blew me away from the moment I heard it, and to finally have it directly from the masters transferred by the best of the best is just incredible. Getting this run of shows from the Hopkins masters is such a treat.” Bossfan48009 is even more enthusiastic, comparing Hopkins’ work with that of legendary taper Mike Millard:
“My appreciation and respect for the quality [Hopkins] produced in these tapes is beyond words. Mike Millard is a legend for the material he blessed us taping in Southern California through the mid 70’s. Steve Hopkins is the taping legend for New England. That would be one of the biggest compliments I could bestow as I never thought we would find another equivalent to the work Millard did with Zeppelin. You have set the bar so high for AUD tape excellence that we all owe you our highest levels of gratitude.”
As stated above, comments quoted in my Godfather review demonstrate the high regard in which this show is held. However, further evidence of the quality of the performance can be gauged from BK’S notes, which have, of course, appeared since that review was written:
“Night four of what I consider Springsteen’s greatest concert stand ever is the final show in the run and a contender for one of Springsteen’s finest performances…The fourth night returns the Miami Horns’ showcase ‘Action in the Streets’ to the set in the place of ‘Growin’ Up’ and preserves the remarkable encore addition of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher,’ more poignant than ever in the final concert before the lawsuit settles and Bruce finally returns to the studio.
It was this version of ‘Don’t Look Back’ that I practically wore out on tape and it still feels like the ultimate performance of the song. The one-two punch with ‘Night’ as the opener has never been bettered. Add to that a marvelous ‘Incident on 57th Street’ and a stunning ‘Backstreet’ that builds to the ‘SHE LIED”/”JUST BLOW IT ALL AWAY’ crescendo that gives even the finest ‘Sad Eyes’ interlude a run for its money…
Springsteen is alive and electric. I can’t imagine a show where he is more in the moment.”
The packaging is simple but effective, with a posed photograph of Springsteen and the band on the obverse of the single-sheet front insert. There are also several onstage shots mostly taken at the show of the 23rd, though with one from the show of the 24th, together with an advertisement for the show and a torn ticket. Track listing and band personnel appear on the back of the rear insert, the latter in extremely small type.
My review of the Godfather release, which presented the show in the best sound quality at that time, concluded with a quotation from Lynn Elder’s bootleg guide Bruce Springsteen: You Better Not Touch: “Elder concludes that ‘every fan needs this show in one format or another’ – and Godfather’s is now clearly the preferred format.” That accolade now passes to this splendid no label release. With its full, clear and dynamic sound, Boston 1977: Are You Ready For The Final Moment represents an undeniable upgrade from previous releases that makes it well worth acquiring, especially as the show itself is superb. My only caveat, especially considering that Springsteen devotees are likely to possess this show already, is that the retention of significant amounts of audience noise between songs means that the performance spills over on to a third disc. Consequently, it will be an unnecessarily expensive upgrade.