The Reunion tour is the tour where Springsteen came closest to looking back. Not exactly a greatest hits tour because he tended to ignore the Born In The USA album some, but it was the tour where Springsteen allowed us to get reacquainted with him and the E-Street Band. He had just released Tracks, so there really wasn't any new material to tour behind, save for "Land Of Hope And Dreams". Still the Boss managed to let his material sound fresh and up to date, as if he wrote the songs only weeks before the tour. After years of creative wandering, with hits and misses, Springsteen managed to sound like he was back in charge. This Crystal Cat release stands as one of the better bootlegs, sound wise at least, of the tour. A decent but flawed mix between an audience tape and in ear monitor it is almost as close as a bootleg can get to the "Live in New York" album. If I have any beefs with the sound at all it is the absence of the audience in the mix making the audience participation numbers sound odd, the fans seem to whisper back to him. Other than that, this is a good document of a killer show.
Springsteen opens the night with a rousing "Adam Raised A Cain". This was business as usual. No way of telling that the band hadn't been on stage with each other for over ten years. Business as usual, not quite. By the time Springsteen reaches "Mansion On The Hill" it becomes clear that he is still able to approach his material in a fresh way. This version of the song, including haunting close harmony vocals with his wife, is among the best re-interpretations I've ever heard an artist do of his own work. When the recording reaches "Out In The Street" the downside of this mix becomes clear. The audience is nowhere to be found. Making the song sound awkward and not nearly as much fun as it should be. Because Crystal Cat needed to spread the show over three discs there's a fade when "Tenth Avenue" starts, taking you out of the moment. And we definitely miss the chanting for the Big Man here when he gets to the band introductions or rather the lack of loudness there off. The same happens later in the recording with "Hungry Heart", I mean, the best thing of that song is having an audience singing at the top of their lungs isn't it?
Where the audience is sorely missed during the audience participation, it is a blessing in disguise during the quieter songs. You won't catch anybody screaming for a beer run anywhere on this boot. The unique performance of "Sinaloa Cowboys" is highly enjoyable because of it. If it were any other tour I'd say this boot is not to be missed. But since the Reunion tour brought an unusual amount of very good to excellent recordings this second Oakland night is one for the more hardcore collector. Though the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction performance from 1999 might redeem the recording some. A nice four song performance, with a very entertaining "Midnight Hour" featuring none other than the Wicked Wilson Picket.
Download the show in mp3 here
Sound: 3,5 out of 5
Show: 4 out of 5
Artwork: 3 out of 5