The Indianapolis bootleg, currently seeding at Jungleland, is a recording of mixed blessings. Of course the return of Danny Federici makes this show monumental in its own, Charles might have been doing an incredible job filling in, but without phantom Dan the E-Street Band isn't quite the same. If only from an emotional point of view. Indy also marked the turning point for the set lists. Starting with this show Springsteen would really shake things up from there on. The trouble is that the sound quality for this bootleg leaves something to desired. Springsteen's voice comes out OK, but the band sounds muddy and thin. Not every boot this leg can be a winner but it does seem disappointing that this should be the one boot that doesn't quite satisfy sound wise. Indianapolis isn't a bad listen, but it isn't quite up to par with the recent California recordings. Could have something to do with the half filled arena that was present for this historic show, that never helps the acoustics. When there's too much echo in the venue, there's no way you're going to take that out of your recording.
Though Springsteen's voice sounds a bit shaky on this one. The night was filled with high lights even before Danny hit the stage. Starting with Steve and Bruce going up against each other two songs in a row, "Prove It All Night" (a request) and "Gypsy Biker". It's on Magic songs like the latter, with their much more subtle arrangement that the lacking sound quality of this bootleg becomes apparent most. But lets not dwell on that. Because after a still slightly unsatisfying "Living In The Future" it was time for the Phantom to take the spot lights! Because the audience isn't all that present on this recording that moment isn't quite the emotional peak I expected it to be. Still it is good to imagine him there on stage letting that organ howl on "Promised Land". After a very nice version of "Spirit In The Night", that song really needs a tension builder at the beginning like Danny provides here, we get treated on an exceptionally emotional "Sandy" momentarily waving Danny goodbye again.
Phantom Dan was back for the encores again, featuring on two songs his prescience was so crucial in defining them in the early days, "Backstreets" and "Kitty's Back". Springsteen allows Dan an extra long solo on the latter, luckily this one comes out pretty well on the tape. Danny bops, Danny pops, the Phantom rolls his way through Kitty, leaving everybody eager for his real return to the fold. Earlier during "Sandy" Danny's part didn't sound quite as full as one would hope for such a special occasion. This recording is the text book case of how a show that was awe inspiring for those present that evening, but leaves those home shrugging their shoulders over what all the fuss was about. Despite the sound, this is still an essential bootleg in my book because of the moment in E-Street history it represents.
Sound: 3+ out of 5
Show: 4,5 out of 5
Artwork: 3 out of 5
Download the full show in mp3 here
The review from Indy.Com
On a side note. A while back somebody at BTX set up an e-mail account for Danny where we can send our wishes to. I have it from good authority Danny has access to this account. So drop him a not if you feel like it at firstname.lastname@example.org