Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boot Tracker, September 14th 1984, Philadelphia

Night three of Springsteen's six night stand in Philly is available from the Dime in, what appears to be, a slightly different mix from the earlier releases. For some reason Springsteen shows form '84/'85 do not nearly have the status the '78 shows have. I wonder how different that would have been if the "Born In The USA" tour had known FM broadcasts like the '78 tour had. How the perception of the tour would have been if there would have been bootlegs from that tour with a sound quality that could compete with the Winterland show. Of course there would still be Boss mania, Bruce going super nova, which put a lot of the long time fans off and left them with a bitter taste about this period in Bruce's career. They were suddenly confronted with the upscaling to the stadiums filled with fans who hardly had a notion of who this Rosie gal was. Springsteen's song writing had developed a lot as well since the early days, stripped to the core. Not every body's cup of tea it seems these days.

But honestly, what's not to like about Bruce's brand of guerrilla R&R from the eighties. Sure on some songs the synthesizers make you grind your teeth but they are much rarer than people claim. "Born In The USA" is more an exception than a rule when it comes to the material from the album with the same name. Let's face it the tour was great. Recent years have seen some fantastic re-masters, most notably by EV2, that are able to back that statement up. Although it is apparent on some boots that Springsteen is struggling to find his groove with his new found success as well, there were many many high lights. There had been few tours before and since where Springsteen toyed with the set lists as he did in this period. Rarities and stories abound. Where the '78 stories often followed roughly the same script, during this tour they could differ dramatically from night to night. Shows were long, energies were high, audiences were drained for every little drop of sweat they had to give. Again, what's not to like.

This show is no different. As most "Born In The USA" shows the set starts off with an introspective beginning, where Bruce would showcase the "Nebraska" album. On this third night Philly was treated on a hilarious story leading into "Open All Night". If Springsteen never made it as a Rock star he would have been a fantastic stand up comedian. Next up one of the most moving live versions of "My Father's House" I ever heard. From there on the show starts to pick up space, rarely slowing down. When he did it would be for gems like "Point Blank" or "Growin' Up". During "Hungry Heart" there's the customary audience participation, with the audience very pleasantly present on this recording. Just when you thought the show couldn't hold any more surprises the Miami Horns blast their way through 10th Avenue followed by a very nice acoustic rendition of "No Surrender". Stripped down it really becomes apparent how strong his song writing from that period was, it hardly needed any support by the band to survive. In '84 the encores still ended the way long time fans had grown accustomed with, a lightning bold "Rosie" for the band intros kicking it off. Followed here by one of the nicest versions of "Jersey Girl" available on boot before crashing in the final three punch ending with "Twist and Shout".

When you're done with the boot, you've got to ask yourself where the audience would find the energy to even walk to the car again. Though this recording bares a lot of resemblance to the earlier available mix it does seem to have a bit more clarity to it. It could just be my imagination though since the upper on the Dime never made specific what his source was exactly. He got it from a CD-R but the generation or exact mix is unknown, art work is missing. Of little consequence, this boot sounds very good indeed, although a bit tinny at times and there is some distortion when Max crashes into his base drums. Overall the sound is very good indeed, nice instrument separation and works equally well during the more subdued parts as the wall of sound. A must have for any fan of this tour!

"Jersey Girl"
Download the show in mp3 format here

Sound: 4+ out of 5
Show: 5- out of 5
Artwork: none

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