Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a mighty man with a voice that could shake the nation to its foundation. This man traveled with a band of brothers, all of whom possessed Magic powers. They had guitars flashing with lightning, they had drums thundering through the night, a fiddle that could tear souls, an organ that could heal them, last but not least, they had a giant playing the sax that could transform darkness into light. Each night they tore the house down, leaving joy and exhilaration in their trail. If you listen closely you can still hear them, far, far away. Unfortunately some bootlegs sound like that, no matter how much you crank up the volume, the mighty E-Street Band stays in that land, far, far away. To my regret, Houston is such a recording. Tapers have a difficult job, they constantly have to fight the acoustics. A taper cannot tap freely into a sound board and create a mix that makes you feel you're up on front row. Most good tapes have you sitting a few rows back, up on the rail of the pit, but unfortunately, some have you up in nosebleeds. Houston is up in the top.
That's a shame, because it sounds like yet another excellent show in the Magic tour. Springsteen and the band were cooking on those last few performances and we can only hope that this is the start of a trend. Dallas and Houston were just a few notches below the mind boggling Anaheim shows, so the signs are good. Houston, in my book, is definitely the better of the two Texas shows. "Reason to Believe" was dropped for the second time this tour, along with "Gypsy Biker", but they were replaced by so many surprises that you'll hardly miss them in the set. I'd highly recommend listening to the bootleg without the track listing, guess what song the intro after "Magic" leads into, allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised to hear what double punch follows "Promised Land". The flow of the show is exhilarating and in the distance you can tell Houston got a treat.
The emotional high of the show undoubtedly must have been "Terry's Song", especially for those who knew what that song stands for. Hearing it now, days after Danny's passing, it gives me chills down my spine. This has not been an easy year for Springsteen, you'll have to give the man credit for pushing on like he does. Exorcising his grief on stage and, in Houston, possibly his fear as he must have known that Federici wasn't doing well. I cannot help but hearing the duet with Alejandro Escovedo in a different light as well, sounds like balm for the soul after a week like this. A perfect upbeat opening in the encore in this set, followed by another guest surprise in the guise of Joe Ely to do "All Just To Get To You" just one more time with the band. A very fine show indeed.
Download the full show in mp3 here
Sound: 2+ out of 5
Show: 4+ out of 5