As one of their recent Magic releases Crystal Cat decided to release the Cologne Magic show from last year. A very fine and interesting show to take a look at for two reasons. First, it is interesting to see how the tour has developed half a year burning down the road, second; I was there! There was a lot of complaint on how static the set lists were on that first European leg. Personally I've basically seen roughly the same show three times during that leg. Take it from me, static set lists or not, those shows were red hot. A Springsteen experience is much more than the set list. For an important part it is that realization that "it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive" that strikes me every time I hear these songs in a live setting. I can think of few things as exhilarating as a R&R show and static or not, the E-Street Band delivers the best in the business. The youthfulness and playfulness that the band displays on stage, while sometimes dealing with quite heavy handed material, has more than a little infectious effect on me, no matter how many times I've heard these songs live.
Cologne had me and my buddies up in nosebleeds, section three. What was so exhilarating is that the impact of the show hit almost as hard as two weeks before that when we had pit. Up on the way to the car we all agreed that "The Ties That Bind" was the one song we would all want to hear, so it didn't take much to get us out of our seats. Much to the discontent to the German lady behind us, who actually had the nerve to ask us to sit down at a R&R show. We granted her the pleasure of staring at our shaking buttock for the remainder of the evening. Typical of those first sets, the show offered few resting points anyway. "I'll Work For Your Love" was one of the few songs that fell flat on this ecstatic German audience. Except for the German lady behind us, it seemed that everybody was quite busy shaking their booty or howling along with "The River". Though I'm not a major fan of the song, "Dancing in the Dark" proved to be a little more than effective encore, as did "Santa Claus is Coming to Town". Over the course of the evening the legendary E-Street Band really managed to get that cold December night past its boiling point.
Maybe my personal experience at the show is why this Crystal Cat is so disappointing to me. Though it is quite effective in capturing some of the evening, the sound is a bit flat, distant evening. The instrument separation is decent, but not spectacular. On the whole the release barely makes for an above average audience recording. Though the Crystal Cat releases are easily obtained for free these days, they aim at a commercial market by selling them for a juicy price. Juicy for them that is, Crystal Cat releases, though they often come with gorgeous packaging, set you back a pretty penny. If only for that I feel we are allowed to expect a little more from them than all the generous bootleg labels, like Ev2 or Fanatic, who bring this stuff for free. With that in mind, the Crystal Cat release is sub par. Obtained for the price of a little band width however, this is a pretty decent recording.
"The Ties That Bind"
Download disc one and disc two in mp3
A small request, use mp3s for personal use only. Keep them in your iPod or on your computer but never use a 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: not included