A Double Dose of Springsteen -- First TV Concert is a Superior Treat

The Atlanta Constitution, 1992-11-11, by: Phil Kloer
Bruce Springsteen gives the lie to his own line. Tonight, there are only 56 channels and nothin' on, as MTV devotes three hours to the past and present Boss. First up is a one-hour documentary, soft heated but enjoyable, that features interviews with the now-defunct E Street Band members and a true rarity -- a stinko live performance. It's a home movie from drummer Max Weinberg's 1981 wedding and showcases Mr. Springsteen mangling "Hungry Heart" as thoroughly as any karaoke-bar Bruce-wannable ever could.

But the real treat is Mr. Springsteen's two-hour show at 10, his first televised full-length concert ever. It was supposed to be part of MTV's all-acoustic "Unplugged" series, but when Mr. Springsteen taped it Sept. 22, he did one acoustic number -- a sexy love song to wife Patty Scialfa, "Red-Headed Woman" -- then announced "That was the unplugged part of the show. Let's bring on the band. Let's rock it!"

MTV had been tipped Mr. Springsteen wanted to plug in the amps and undermine the whole notion of "Unplugged" ("When they said sit down/ I stood up/Ohhh, growin' up"), but it's hard to quibble with the results. Indeed, it's hard to do anything but exult.

If Mr. Springsteen's record sales have gone in the tank this year, this live show is still magnificent. It combines current songs ("Human Touch," "Lucky Town") with crowd-pleasers ("Growin' Up," the partially prescient "Glory Days").

High points: A slow, plaintive "Thunder Road" with acoustic guitar and harmonica; a thunderous "Light of Day" that has as much energy as the old show-stopper "Rosalita"; a buzzingly angry "57 Channels" (with backup singers chanting "No justice, no peace").

Low points: The final credits. Means it's over. Hope you taped it.