The Tunnel of Love tour is probably the toughest E-Street Band tour to listen to. Despite the fact that the album contained some of his best songs, both the album and tour didn’t age all that well. No E-Street Tour before or since sounds as dated as this tour. No matter how you toss and turn it, synthesizers are probably best left in the eighties and Max’s drum sound in this period has always sounded awfully sterile to my ears. Even so, there’s plenty in the Tunnel Of Love Express Tour bootlegs to revisit them from time to time. Even when we are discussing, what possibly is, the weakest tour the mighty E-Street Band did, it is still a few steps above what most bands achieve once they set foot on stage. Especially in the eighties when the E-Street Band arguably was one of the few band who could back their mega success up with a killer live show. Yet even with these legendary performers something didn’t quite gel during this tour. Other than the “Nebraska” album that seamlessly got incorporated into the Born in the USA tour, “Tunnel of Love” didn’t sit as well with the rest of the E-Street material. Through out this show you get the feeling that Springsteen is struggling to give those fine songs a place amongst his earlier work, never quite pulling it off. Listening to this recording it could be argued that the album was never suitable for stadium shows. This adds to the tension that is already there in the material itself. For the first time it seems like Springsteen isn't referring to his relationship with his father when he tears into "Adam Raised a Cain", but is venting his unease with his monstrous success in the eighties. For the first time Springsteen seems unsure of what he wants to say. He almost admits to as much before doing an acoustic rendition of "Born to Run", telling his audience he had to think real hard about what he was going to talk to them about this time round. Something that seemingly came natural to him during past tours.
The tension in this show is part of what makes the bootleg such a tough listen (even though it is also part of what makes me come back). Springsteen is asking some of the toughest questions of his career, forcing us to look at aspects of our lives we might not want to dwell on as much, we might even come to a R&R show to forget these aspects. Yet Springsteen is holding that mirror up, forcing himself and his audience to take a long hard look. Not just on our personal lives but on society as well. Oddly enough, this tour had more overt social criticism, maybe by contrast, than the Born in the USA tour. Represented in this show by an especially raging "Seeds" and "War". "Cover Me" takes a central place between these two themes that are seemingly at odds with one another. Springsteen seems to stress that we need someone to shelter us from the world outside. Of course, now it is well known that the tension in this tour came as much from artistic restlessness as from his private life. The Tunnel of Love Express tour basically chronicled a failing marriage's transition into one of R&R's most successful unions. To contain the tension Springsteen whipped the material into highly structured sets that didn't vary much through out the tour. The Miami Horns were called upon to take some of the edge off with their Soulful brass section and Doo Wop vocals. Leading into "All That Heaven" will allow Springsteen told one of his most reflective and compelling tales of his career, set off against the thunderous preacher shtick that precedes "I'm A Coward". Because of the highly structured set lists one or two selected bootlegs from this tour are enough, the May 3rd Mountain View is essential listening, but if you feel the need to dig a little further, this Ev2 release is a very nice audience re-master indeed. There might be a little hiss throughout the recording and seemingly a few very minor cuts, but the overall sound is really clear and gives you a great impression of what would be the last E-Street Band tour for quite a while.
Download the full show in mp3 here
A small request, only burn mp3s for personal use, but never use an mp3 based CD in a trade. The Quality of mp3s deteriorate rapidly every time a CD is ripped. Using high quality music files such as FLACs is essential in keeping the trading pool healthy.
Recording: 3,5 out of 5
Show: 4 out of 5
Artwork: 4 out of 5