Hometown Boys (Godfatherecords G.R. 808/809/810)
Wrigley field, Chicago, IL , USA – 7 September, 2012
Disc 1: Prove It All Night, My Love Will Not Let You Down, Out In The Street, Hungry Heart, We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball, Death To My Hometown, My City Of Ruins, Spirit In The Night, Trapped
Disc 2: Jack Of All Trades, Atlantic City, Lonesome Day, I’m Goin’ Down, Darlington County, Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, None But The Brave, The Ghost Of Tom Joad, Badlands, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready]
Disc 3: We Are Alive, Thunder Road, Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Jungleland, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Twist and Shout
Bonus Tracks: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL , USA – 8 September, 2012: My Hometown, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Who’ll Stop The Rain, American Land
For the first time, Springsteen and the E Street Band take the stage at Wrigley Field. The show starts with a version of Prove It All Night which includes the piano and guitar intro used during the Darkness On The Edge Of Town Tour, though Springsteen’s guitar work is less electrifying than it was back in ’78. (Nils Lofgren’s contribution is rather more effective.) This is followed by My Love Will Not Let You Down which Christopher Phillips on the Backstreets website calls, “a real highlight, with that classic chiming guitar trio of Nils, Bruce, and Steve downstage, as well as a kick-ass drum breakdown from Max.” Crowd-pleasing renditions of Out In The Street and Hungry Heart (with a nod to to The Drifters’ Up On The Roof) follow – two audibles which unfortunately replaced the scheduled Adam Raised A Cain and Lost In The Flood, songs which I, for one, would much rather have heard. Then comes the Wrecking Ball trio of We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball and Death To My Hometown, with Tom Morello adding his distinctive guitar sound to Death To My Hometown. Chicago Tribune reviewer Greg Kot rightly contends that the songs from the latest album “have acquired teeth on this tour.” A poignant My City Of Ruins, a version of Spirit In The Night with the now-customary heavy-handed intro and a “muscular” (to quote Phillips) rendition of Jimmy Cliff’s Trapped round off the first disc. (Clearly it it not just me who dislikes the Spirit In The Night intro – Michael Roffman, on the Consequence Of Sound website, writes that, “some habits do tire and Springsteen’s incessant need to channel this psuedo Baptist preacher of his atrophies quick.”)
Morello returns at the opening of disc two for a superb Jack Of All Trades, Phillips commenting that, “Morello threw down perfectly wrought solos for his Wrecking Ball staples ‘Death to My Hometown’ and ‘Jack of All Trades.'” Eddie Vedder then guests on Atlantic City, sharing lead vocals with Springsteen in an excellent performance. Chicago Sun-Times reviewer Mark Guarino states that Vedder’s input turned the song, “from a sparse folk song into a bluesy duet,” and Kot refers to this highly atmospheric performance as “chilling.” A fine Lonesome Day is succeeded by a Born In The U.S.A. pairing of I’m Goin’ Down and Darlington County, before the latest album is revisited in the shape of Shackled And Drawn, with a superb vocal performance from Cindy Mizelle.
Waitin’ On A Sunny Day contains the customary vocal slot for a child from the audience and this is followed by a real rarity, in the shape of what Phillips calls an “absolutely majestic” performance of None But The Brave. “I think this is a tour debut, I could be wrong,” Springsteen announces, “This is for all the hardcore fans out there. This was written for Born in the U.S.A. Didn’t make it on there.” Springsteen is correct that it is a tour debut and there had only been two previous E Street Band performances.
Morello, as Phillips writes, “was back later for his trademark electric ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ duet, trading vocals and guitar leads with Springsteen (truly shredding — and scratching — by the end), and he remained on stage as that energy kept flowing for an ecstatic ‘Badlands’ and the set-closing ‘Land of Hope and Dreams.'”
Disc three contains the encores, kicking off with with We Are Alive, the spoken intro of which Springsteen uses to continue the train theme, and a full-band rendition of Thunder Road. Energetic renditions of Born To Run and Dancing in the Dark (the former particularly exhilarating) provide perfect, uplifting encore material and then comes a superb Jungleland, played in response to a glittery sign brandished by a “14-year-old lady.” “It’s the first ‘Jungleland’ I’ve seen with Jake [Clemons], and my emotions were all over the place” writes Phillips, “though what got me in my gut was not Jake’s solo (which was pretty damn faultless), but Bruce’s wordless vocals at the end, those howls into the night sky.” Morello and Vedder return for Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and show-closer Twist and Shout, which wraps up the performance in fine style.
The third disc is filled out with four bonus tracks from the next night’s show. Vedder is again present for My Hometown, Darkness On The Edge Of Town and American Land, with Morello also participating in the latter song. The other number, Who’ll Stop The Rain, is performed by Springsteen in a slow, solo acoustic version.
The sound quality of this audience recording is very good-to-excellent and it enhances the enjoyment of listening to this set. The sound of the bonus tracks is similar. The discs are housed in Godfather’s trademark tri-fold sleeve with numerous onstage shots in which Vedder is prominent. There are the usual “Joe Roberts” notes which make substantial use of Kot’s review, including some interesting observations on the political subtext of the performance. The title of this release comes from the Chicago connections of three of the performers – Morello grew up in the Chicago suburb of Libertyville, Vedder was born in another Chicago suburb, Evanston, and Lofgren is also a Chicago native. Although not quite up there with the best Wrecking Ball Tour shows I have reviewed, this is a fine performance which is enhanced by the contribution of the guest performers and is particularly notable for the vocal contributions of Vedder. Consequently, it is well worth having.