Incident in New York City
The Torch, 2001, by: Robert Cotto
We are all aware of the unprecedented series of ten shows that the minister of Rock N Roll performed in the summer of 2000 at New York's Madison Square Garden. But, the film itself, "Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band/ Live in New York City" is a truly captivating concert film, that any fan, or classic Bruce-hater (and have we encountered them) can truly sit back and appreciate. Not since "The Last Waltz" has there been a concert film that captures the truth about music and soul, and the compassion that a band puts into their music.
The DVD release of the April HBO telecast features two discs. Disc One includes the original Emmy Award Winning HBO special, with a wonderful mastered digital track. Included is a photo gallery, which includes pictures throughout the entire tour. What makes disc one special is the featurette "New York City Serenade". Hosted by Bob Costas, the entire E Street Band is featured in rare interviews, with rare concert performances of Springsteen classics, "Adam Raised a Cain", and an emotional alternate version to "Blood Brothers".
The gem of the DVD set is disc two. Disc two features an 80-minute compiled exclusive performances of 11 songs that were not included in the original special, but some made their debut on the "Live in NYC" album. This is where the true power of the concert is revealed. From performances of "Backstreets" to a Dylan-esqe version of "Born in the U.S.A., for the people who were there, relive the night they shared the venue with Bruce, and for those who were not, they experience an iota of the E Street Experience.
The greatest treat of the disc is the flawless performance of "Jungleland". With the use of many different cameras, we capture the emotions of Bruce, Little Steven, the Big Man Clarence, as they are about to perform their little piece in the timeless opus. From the quick prayer that Clarence prays, to the non stop solo, to the hardcore glances of love and respect Springsteen and Clemons share between their parts finish or commence, we not only see people at work, but we see people who love one another, people who give EVERYTHING when they perform.
This disc ends in style, and in love, with "If I Should Fall Behind". The touching vocals from each band member, especially the soulful verses sang by Van Zandt, takes you back, wishing that you were there again, and that it would never end. And who couldn't say that there couldn't be heaven on earth?
My only problem with the DVD, which doesn't take away from the experience, is that the performance(s) should have been released as a Director's Cut disc, so to speak. They should have re edited the footage, and made it a classic Bruce three hour show. And that is the problem some critics have had with the previous Live albums Springsteen has released, that it is not experienced as a show, but an anthology of live performances.
This is a pretty solid DVD. The disc does its purpose of capturing the raw energy of the MAN, and the heart and talent of the band. It captures the friendship, the love that these E Streeters have for each other, and the peacefulness the fans share with each other. Come on, what man will let a woman kiss him from the stands??? It is a wonderful experience, be it your first experience of Bruce Live, or one of the many.
Robert Cotto is a featured writer for THE TORCH, a publication of St. John's University. Cotto has also been featured in the Connecticut Post, focusing on film/tv criticism.