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Paolo's Circus Story

The 1986 Bridge School Benefit

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You've probably noticed, but I'm really liking some of the performances from this show *cough "Dancing in the Dark" cough* since watching it for the first proper time the other day. I've just published a new post about it where I've wrote my thoughts down on the songs and other stuff: https://cantfindtickets.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/retro-e-street-review-the-bridge-school-benefit-13-10-1986/, but I was wondering what you lot think about it? Was there anyone from here there? Is this particular show important to your fandom in anyway? 

I'll post the link to the show on YouTube in the event there's people here who haven't seen it and for those who want to watch it again now I've brought it up for the 7th time in 3 days. 

Discuss. 

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A vinyl bootleg of this show (You Better Not Touch) was the first Bruce Springsteen bootleg I bought.

The show itself is important as one of the first signs Bruce was looking for something new and different  (and maybe without ESB).

Apart from that, just a great and unique show.

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This was and is a great show, easliy as good as Christic a few years later, only not as dark. And equally important. 

I read about it in Backstreets, this must have been in early 1987, and the description of it had the same effect the description of Roulette in Born To Run had: this was something I really needed to hear. But, bootlegs were not yet really discovered by me at the time (though I knew they existed), and I had no idea how to get hold of one. 

At the time, the Live box was just about the only officially available live recordings of Bruce, and the Bridge show was completely different from that; the Backstreets review compared it to the acoustic radio shows in the early Seventies. 

So, it was some of Holy Grail for me, and I was thrilled when the video to Fire was the performance of the song from the Bridge show. It's still my favourite version of the song (although almost overtaken by the Tempe version now...). 

Whn I did finally get the boot and saw the video of the show, I was not disappointed at all. So great having Danny and Nils there, and I loved every single song on it - Darlington County, even. When Tracks was released, at first I couldn't place where I'd heard the melody to Rockaway The Days, and then: Seeds! from Bridge benefit. I love these kinds of things. 

Important show for me, my fandom and for Bruce, too, I guess. Remember, this was no comeback, this was Bruce, (Still Possibly The) Biggest Rock Star On The Planet, doing an acoustic and intimate show. 

Have to add that I love Nils' playing on this, the melody he plays high on the neck on Darlington and Seeds, plus the Fire riff. 

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2 hours ago, Lampi said:

A vinyl bootleg of this show (You Better Not Touch) was the first Bruce Springsteen bootleg I bought.

The show itself is important as one of the first signs Bruce was looking for something new and different  (and maybe without ESB).

Apart from that, just a great and unique show.

You could argue Nebraska predated it as a sign that Bruce might not always use the ESB. 

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17 minutes ago, Dr. Zoom said:

this was Bruce, (Still Possibly The) Biggest Rock Star On The Planet, doing an acoustic and intimate show. 

Nothing to do with this Bridge show but a "what if" question will always be what the impact could have been of Bruce Springsteen doing an acoustic and intimate MTV Unplugged show as -maybe, we will never know - the greatest MTV Unplugged show ever.

(Although not the Biggest Rock Star On The Planet (anymore) in 1992)

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14 minutes ago, J said:

You could argue Nebraska predated it as a sign that Bruce might not always use the ESB. 

Yes.

I said 'one of the first signs', not 'the first'.

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4 minutes ago, Lampi said:

Nothing to do with this Bridge show but a "what if" question will always be what the impact could have been of Bruce Springsteen doing an acoustic and intimate MTV Unplugged show as -maybe, we will never know - the greatest MTV Unplugged show ever.

(Although not the Biggest Rock Star On The Planet (anymore) in 1992)

For Bruce fans it might have been the greatest MTV unplugged of all time... I doubt non-fans would have cared any more than they did about Plugged. 

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3 minutes ago, J said:

For Bruce fans it might have been the greatest MTV unplugged of all time... I doubt non-fans would have cared any more than they did about Plugged. 

In 92-93, definitely. But earlier, after the Amnesty tour for example (when did Unplugged start, anyway?), a performance could have had some impact. Could have. Neil Young's did quite well, not to mention Nirvana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

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9 minutes ago, Dr. Zoom said:

In 92-93, definitely. But earlier, after the Amnesty tour for example (when did Unplugged start, anyway?), a performance could have had some impact. Could have. Neil Young's did quite well, not to mention Nirvana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

Aye maybe... Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton were the biggest winners I think. Perhaps Bruce could have had a similar impact... 

Nirvana was already huge at that point... 

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14 minutes ago, J said:

Aye maybe... Rod Stewart and Eric Clapton were the biggest winners I think. Perhaps Bruce could have had a similar impact... 

Nirvana was already huge at that point... 

Ah yes, Clapton... wasn't Unplugged eventually his biggest success ever? And Unplugged as well? 

Not sure if Bruce could have had that big an impact with an Unplugged album at any point of his career, but doing a Plugged gig late in 92... not what I'd call great timing. 

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Love this version of Fire, in all its cheeseball glory.  

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3 hours ago, J said:

You could argue Nebraska predated it as a sign that Bruce might not always use the ESB. 

 

3 hours ago, Lampi said:

Yes.

I said 'one of the first signs', not 'the first'.

To be fair, while Nebraska showed he was willing to release music not including the band, this was the first sign that performances without the band could be a future consideration. He clearly hadn't reached that point yet in 1982 (early forays from the 70's aside)

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4 hours ago, Dr. Zoom said:

In 92-93, definitely. But earlier, after the Amnesty tour for example (when did Unplugged start, anyway?), a performance could have had some impact. Could have. Neil Young's did quite well, not to mention Nirvana and Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

That Neil Young Unplueed is my favorite and I haven’t seen or listened to it in years. A friend and I used to listen to it while writing a treatment for a sitcom we were trying to develop. Ultimately, we would gather the next day to look over what we had done and it would be a page or so of nothing consequential, two pages of stuff we thought was hilarious followed by 10-15 pages of drunken gibberish we couldn’t really decipher. We dropped the idea after Clerks came out as it was similar to our idea.

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I was there.  One of the most memorable Bruce shows I've seen. 

No idea going in what to expect - this was Bruce's first show since coming off the BitU tour a year earlier,  with which this die-hard fan wasn't too impressed.  (Having seen Bruce many times during what I consider his creative and performing peak from '75-78, the BitU LP, tour, hoopla, lip-synced videos with pre-auditioned dance partners flown in for the gig, giant stadium shows, floating Macy parade-like balloon animals etc. took him quite far from what had most appealed to me (and many other long-time fans) back then.) 

This was also the first Bridge concert, held well before the days of Unplugged (which idea MTV may well have taken from Neil's all-acoustic Shoreline benefits).  The concept of rockers playing an all-acoustic gig was itself novel and compelling (as others later recognized in "unplugged" CDs like Clapton, Nirvana, McCartney, etc.).  The format and camaraderie were wonderful,  as were some of the early sets (Henley, Robin Williams).  But everyone was waiting for Bruce, and this was likely his first all-acoustic set in perhaps 12-14 years. 

You can watch the video and judge for yourself, but in person it was a phenomenal performance - one of the 5-10 most memorable Bruce shows I've seen.  Perhaps most notable for its restraint - and Bruce's repeated comic chafing at the acoustic limitations, trying to contain himself even from getting up off his stool.  Nils (who also did a short set earlier - remember his connection to Neil) and Danny added marvelous touches.  Superb acoustic versions of some classics (Fire), overblown BitU numbers (BitU, Glory Days, Darlington, DitD) and Seeds set to a great melody (which later emerged as well as Rockaway the Days).  He awed the other performers (check out the looks on CSN when they tried to do backup on Hungry Heart). 

I've enjoyed hearing the Christic shows almost from the month they took place, but don't believe that they came close to the performance quality and reinvention of the Bridge set. 

And Bruce did return to Shoreline (where he gave another of his greatest shows ever on 5/3/88, with his parents both in attendance, which ought to be the next ToL show Archives releases) for another Bridge concert in 1995, which was nearly as disappointing as the '86 show was amazing.  Bruce's subdued '95 set was unimpressive, consisted largely of re-melodized acoustic versions of several songs, and when pressed for an encore, he simply came up empty.  Neil came back onstage, said that Bruce didn't have any other songs ready, and then sang his own Down By the River with Bruce mildly strumming along next to him.  The set did have one great moment however: the debut of The Ghost of Tom Joad, which outshone the rest of his set (and the overall show) considerably.

All told, the first Bridge concert was the best of the 7-8 Bridge concerts that I attended in later years, and Bruce's set (cleaned up and properly mixed) would be an excellent addition to the Archives series.  (They could even add Man at the Top from Nils' set that night, or even all of Nils' set, to round out the release.)

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The video posted above has both Bridge shows.

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It was 1987, in high school. I was a different kind of kid. I read Backstreets magazine and Rolling Stone. I was in East Los Angeles with my Dad after a strange couple of years. My Mom had kind of given up and we moved to live with Dad, who tried but failed. I had Bruce Springsteen records and lived off Darkness, The River, and of course Born in the USA. I wanted more and I wanted it now. I had read about this show and instantly wanted to hear it. I was transitioning from being a kid who loved the music to a die-hard who needed it all. I saw the ads in the back of Backstreets and wrote to a guy in Pittsburgh, Joe Crawford was his name. He sent me his well-typed list of tapes. He was willing to help me out. I'd send him two tapes and he'd send back one. A show was usually two and a half tapes. I scanned his list and found a recording of Stockholm night 2 from '81, Roxy 78, and the Bridge show. I went to Licorice pizza in Pasadena and bought two TDK SA90 10 tape bricks and sent them to him and I waited. three weeks later and a package was delivered and I dug in. Words cannot describe the hidden worlds that shined and lit my life on fire. This recording is the birth of my deep fascination with this music. Everything is perfect on it. The strange version of You can look just blew me away. At 17 I knew what it was about or at least I thought I did. Born in the USA inspired me to seek an understanding in what happened to me being mistreated and opened the world of saving one self through activism. Seeds is similar and I've always loved this version. I could go on and on. Just a magical recording of an amazing performance that has transformed me again and again. It's deep and rich. Then I had Stockholm and the Roxy to digest, which I did and are the cornerstones in my collecting, which then moved on to Winterland and a soundboard of Nassau 2nd night. The generosity of the traders is so appreciated. This music is epic. Just fucking epic.

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13 hours ago, Jerseyfornia said:

The video posted above has both Bridge shows.

When was the second show? GOTJ tour era? 

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45 minutes ago, J said:

When was the second show? GOTJ tour era? 

28 October 1995-see also the post of Outside Looking In above.

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I really enjoyed watching these shows. I think I had previously only seen the performances of Seeds and Fire from the 1986 show. 

I like the version of Point Blank from the 1995 show a lot. I actually prefer it to the original version. 

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14 minutes ago, *Janey* said:

I really enjoyed watching these shows. I think I had previously only seen the performances of Seeds and Fire from the 1986 show. 

I like the version of Point Blank from the 1995 show a lot. I actually prefer it to the original version. 

Yes, Point Blank from that era is great! 

It seems to me like Bruce used some of the melody from the fast outtake version on the Solo Acoustic tour. 

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1 hour ago, Lampi said:

28 October 1995-see also the post of Outside Looking In above.

Ah yeah thanks.... I hadn't read that. 

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