Wembley Stadium Wrecking Ball Night (Crystal Cat Records CC 1016-18)
Disc 1: Intro: Bound For Canaan, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready], Jackson Cage, Radio Nowhere, Save My Love, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight), This Hard Land, Lost In The Flood, Wrecking Ball, Death To My Hometown, Hungry Heart
Disc 2: Intro: The Album ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’, Badlands, Adam Raised A Cain, Something In The Night, Candy’s Room, Racing In The Street, The Promised Land, Factory, Streets Of Fire, Prove It All Night, Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, The Rising
Disc 3: Light Of Day[/Land Of A Thousand Dances], Pay Me My Money Down, Born To Run, Bobby Jean, Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Twist And Shout, Thunder Road
Bonus tracks: Hard Rock Calling Festival, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK – 30 June, 2013: Reason To Believe, Atlantic City, My Lucky Day
I have already reviewed Godfather’s version of Springsteen’s Wembley show, entitled Darkness On The Edge Of London Town and readers are directed to that review for a full assessment of the performance. In this review I will confine myself to comments on sound quality, bonus tracks and packaging.
Wembley Stadium Wrecking Ball Night brings us the show in the form of a very impressive IEM/audience matrix whereas the Godfather version derives from an audience recording. Posters on the Jungleland website have largely expressed admiration for the sound quality of this Crystal Cat release, with positive comments such as: “sounded darn good” (millsri); “Sounds great!” (larryrulz and N345595); “Stunning sound quality on this one!” (fv45pfap); “Awesome sound!” (born to run); “Great sound!” (doubledc); “Superb sound” (blair207) and “A great sounding set” (hobbes4444). Even the normally hostile olli66 has some good things to say, writing that this release is, “the best CC in years…this one sounds like a good one with great instrument seperataion [sic]…it just sounds right.” The sound is full, clear and incredibly dynamic, improving during the first disc so that from This Hard Land onwards it is quite superb. It is simply wonderful to be able to listen to a complete live performance of Darkness On The Edge Of Town in such splendid sound quality.
In my review of the Godfather release, I wrote that I approved of the decision to give the complete performance of Darkness a disc to itself, “which allows us to hear the whole album uninterrupted and accords it an certain appropriate stature.” Crystal Cat also sensibly elects not to split the complete album performance; however, rather than giving over the second disc wholly to Darkness, it adds the next three songs from the set, thus creating room on the third disc for three bonus tracks, where Godfather has none. I was disappointed to find, however, that Crystal Cat mishandles the disc break. Disc one ends with Springsteen commenting on the song just played, praising Jake Clemons’ contribution to Hungry Heart and then, after a short silence, introducing the performance of Darkness, an introduction which fades out part way through. Then disc two begins with a fade-in of the last few seconds of Hungry Heart and a repeat of everything Springsteen says at the end of that song, followed by the full Darkness introduction. Godfather also failed to get this right, as I noted in my review of Darkness On The Edge Of London Town when I stated that, “unfortunately Springsteen’s spoken introduction appears at the end of the first disc, thereby separating it from the performance itself (although his last few words are repeated on disc two.)” Additionally, at the end of disc two, Crystal Cat gives us a few seconds of Light Of Day, quickly faded out, followed by the last few seconds of the previous number, The Rising, faded in on disc three, the songs being played without a break.
The three bonus tracks come from the 2013 Hard Rock Calling performance. Reason To Believe and Atlantic City were the second and third of three consecutive songs from the Nebraska album (the first, unheard here, being Johnny 99). Reason To Believe is played in what Glenn Radecki and Caryn Rose, writing on the Backstreets website, refer to as, “its full-band, blues-boogie arrangement.” Atlantic City comes in the usual slow band arrangement, heavy with Max Weinberg’s drumming. Finally we get the show’s closing song, a solo acoustic rendition of My Lucky Day. Springsteen abandoned the scheduled Thunder Road to play the song in response to an audience member’s tattoo! The sound of the bonus tracks is full and dynamic, though there is some fluctuation in the sound quality on Atlantic City (which is subjected to an abrupt ending) and some extraneous noise during Reason To Believe.
With this release we get Crystal Cat’s usual sumptuous packaging. The front and rear inserts display onstage photographs, with the track listing on the back of the rear insert. There is a twenty-eight page booklet with plenty of other onstage shots, together with a photo of manager John Landau, fans inside and outside the stadium, handwritten and printed setlists and several photographs of “Bernie dancing in the back of the pit to Thunder Road.” The cover bears a posed photo of Springsteen. Also included in the booklet are the track listing and band personnel, together with the accounts of the show written by Michael Hann, Sarfraz Manzoor and David Paton, all of which I quoted in my review of the Godfather release. There is also a tri-fold insert, the inner side of which shows the outside of the venue, the view from Springsteen’s microphone and a ticket for the show. The outer side shows a panoramic view of the inside of the stadium and Springsteen dancing with a woman from the audience. Crystal Cat uses is usual attractive glossy paper. Further onstage photographs appear on the discs themselves.
As I stated in my review of the Godfather release, this was “a special performance” and it is one that all lovers of Springsteen’s music should have in their collections. With its stunning sound and stellar packaging, this new Crystal Cat release is now the version to have.