Bruce Springsteen – You Never Can Tell (Godfatherecords G.R. 921/922/923)


You Never Can Tell (Godfatherecords G.R. 921/922/923)

Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany  – 7 July, 2013

Disc 1: Intro, Roulette, Lucky Town, Badlands, Death To My Hometown, Sherry Darling, You Never Can Tell, Back in Your Arms, Hungry Heart, Spirit In the Night

Disc 2: Wrecking Ball, We Take Care Of Our Own, Murder Incorporated, Human Touch, Open All Night[/Chicken Shack Boogie/Don’t You Just Know It], Cadillac Ranch, Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, Lonesome Day, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready], Light Of  Day[/Land Of A Thousand Dances]

Disc 3: Born In The U.S.A., Born To Run, Bobby Jean, Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out, Rockin’ All Over The World, Thunder Road

After We’re Going To Play It Loose Tonight, featuring the Mönchengladbach performance of 5 July, the second to be reviewed of Godfather’s five recently released Wrecking Ball Tour shows comes from the Leipzig concert of 7 July.  Ralf Dissmann, writing on the Backstreets website, usefully describes both the venue and the opening of the show:

“Bruce’s return  to Leipzig after the E Street Band’s first show there in 1999 took place in an interesting  venue.  The Red Bull Arena is a modern multifunctional stadium for  almost 50,000 people built inside the old and wide  Zentralstadion, which was one of the biggest sports stadiums in the  world.  Starting with two tour debuts was a good sign for another great  show in Germany, again full of surprises and ‘looseness’ combined with the usual  mighty power of the E Street Band.

Max started with the drumbeat, and the  band ripped through a powerful version of the  soundchecked ‘Roulette.’  Another song from the soundcheck followed, ‘Lucky Town,’ and  what a great version it was of yet another lost track from ’92.  Bruce’s guitar solo was simply awesome, and  the confidence the band showed here was just amazing for such a rarely  played song.”

Roulette receives only its eighth performance since the reformation of the E Street Band and Lucky Town gets its first outing with the band since its performance at Giants Stadium on 31 August 2003 (released by Godfather as The Giants Game and already reviewed).  Tour stalwarts Badlands and Death to My Hometown follow and then it is time for the some sign requests.  First up is a lively and most enjoyable Sherry Darling, featuring saxophone solos from both Jake Clemons and Eddie Manion.  Following this we get the show’s third tour premiere in the shape of what Dirk Jungmann, writing on Springsteen’s official website rightly calls, “an exuberant performance,” of the Chuck Berry number You Never Can Tell, during which, as Dissmann reports, “all the horn  players got their chance to shine with solos  in a  long version with a  reprise,” an impressive feat as they had to be taught their parts by Springsteen on the spot, as we hear.  

Another rarity follows in the shape of Back in Your Arms, played only once before on the tour at the marathon show in Helsinki on July 31 2012.  Commentators seem to be uniformly impressed with this performance, which begins with the customary spoken introduction.   Jungmann claims that, “the band’s subtle accompaniment supported the most passionate and skillful vocal I’ve ever heard on this song…[making] this rendition a true masterpiece.”  Dissmann concurs, stating that this was, “a fantastic version…overflowing with emotion…[Springsteen’s] soulful singing on this prized rarity was one of the highlights of the concert.”  On an emotional redbossfan comments that, “the band had to try a bit before they found the right keys and actually started playing, but what followed might have been the most beautiful rendition of ‘Back in your arms’ that I have ever heard.  My tears started flowing immediately.” 

Another sign request which required a little working out, the song incudes the customary spoken introduction. Tour regulars Hungry Heart, Spirit In the Night, Wrecking Ball and We Take Care Of Our Own are followed by what Dissmann rightly calls a “hard-hitting” rendition of Murder Incorporated that features a fine guitar solo from Steve Van Zandt.  Then, as Jungmann writes, “an unusual (particularly without Patti Scialfa present) but clearly convincing ‘Human Touch’ provided Soozie Tyrell the chance to shine, taking Patti’s part and proving her vocal and guitar skills.”  Open All Night, once again played as a jump blues/boogie woogie medley, is characterized as a “strong” performance by Jungmann and as “pure fun” by redbossfan.  The fun continues with Cadillac Ranch (in my opinion easily the best of the rather vapid rockers from The River), complete with a violin part from Soozie Tyrell.  The splendid Cindy Mizelle and a youngster from the audience then get their customary vocal slots during, respectively, Shackled And Drawn and Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, which is followed by a performance of the opening song from The Rising, Lonesome Day.  The main set then closes, in Dissmann’s words with a “strong” Land Of Hope And Dreams, culminating in the customary snippet of People Get Ready, and a “hard rocking” Light Of  Day, which includes a lengthy guitar solo from Van zandt and utilizes the “na na na” hook of Cannibal & The Headhunters’ version of Chris Kenner’s Land Of A Thousand Dances.

Springsteen dedicates what Jungmann calls a “mighty” Born In The U.S.A. to those, “old enough to have seen one of the most memorable concerts ever,” the East Berlin concert of 1988.  That show, which had an audience of 300,000 according to some estimates, is the subject of Erik Kirschbaum’s recently published Bruce Springsteen: Rocking The Wall: The Untold Story Of A Concert In East Berlin That Changed The World, in which he argues that the show played a part in the creation of the desire for political change that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall.  (Annoyingly, the spoken introduction is at the end of disc two and therefore separated from the song.)  Spirits are kept high during the rest of the encore with performances of Born To Run, Bobby Jean, Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and John Fogerty’s Rockin’ All Over The World, the last of which contains the band introductions.  Springsteen then ends the show alone with what Jungmann describes as, “a beautiful acoustic performance” of Thunder Road.

Linking the performance to the previous shows in Munich, Hanover and Mönchengladbach, Dissmann concludes that, “Bruce’s fans in Germany were treated to four exceptional  shows in 2013…an unbelievable variety of songs from all periods  of his career, combined with strong and playful performances, featuring all ranges of emotions.”  Kirschbaum, in his guise as a  Reuters correspondent, relates the show to those played just before this one, stating that, “Leipzig was as enthralled by the boundless energy of Springsteen on Sunday as were similarly large and enthusiastic crowds in Moenchengladbach, Germany on Friday, in Geneva on Wednesday and in London last Sunday.”

The sound of You Never Can Tell is fuller, more dynamic and somewhat clearer than that of the Mönchengladbach release We’re Going To Play It Loose Tonight (recently reviewed) and it contributes to a  very enjoyable listening experience.  The discs are housed in Godfather’s usual tri-fold sleeve, with numerous onstage photographs track listing and list of band personnel and there is also a four-page foldover insert with notes credited to Franky Williams.  As I stated in my review of We’re Going To Play It Loose Tonight, “Springsteen has played some terrific shows during 2013, and Godfather is judiciously selecting the best of them for release.”  This one is another winner.

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