Bruce Springsteen – Hammersmith Odeon London ’75

Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 (2006)

B

1. Thunder Road 2. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out 3. Spirit In The Night 4. Lost In The Flood 5. She’s The One 6. Born To Run 7. The E Street Shuffle/Having A Party 8. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City 9. Backstreets 10. Kitty’s Back 11. Jungleland 12. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) 13. 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) 14. Detroit Medley 15. For You 16. Quarter To Three

 

Ah, here’s that live E Street Band magic old people are always telling me about! Young, scrawny, bearded Bruce, runnin’ all around and testifyin’! The Big Man, blowin’ on the sax! Everyone in the band wearing dumb hats! Singin’ and playin’ and havin’ a big party! Woooooo!

And then once you get to the party, just when you’re starting to have a good time, they bore you to death with 20-minute piano ballads. Have you ever been to an actual party where halfway through, some asshole comes in, turns off the music, pours out all the liquor bottles, and then locks everyone in a room as he recites bible verses? That’s what this album is like.

I’m exaggerating, obviously, because I would grade that situation an F- and this album gets a B. But this was supposed to be the E Street Band at their absolute peak, right? The Born To Run tour, featuring the classic E Street Band lineup fully assembled for the first time, including Steven Van Zandt, Danny Federici, and Max Weinberg? Providing supposedly one of the greatest live music experiences of the 20th Century? Well, as the majority of Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 indicates, they were certainly capable of providing a rock ‘n roll stage experience of the highest order. Unfortunately, they also occasionally prove themselves unable to distinguish between “that which rocks” and “masturbating on stage.”

So this archival release documents Springsteen’s apparently legendary first appearance in Europe, the specific location of which you can easily surmise from the title so I’m not going to fucking type it out again, asshole. And no doubt they really brought it that night – or at least, they started out bringing it. Specifically, the first third or so of this show, through “Born To Run,” is a fucking superb, full-throttle ball of pure fun that shows what kind of exciting new possibilities this kind of big band soul circus setup could bring to a rock scene that was beginning to stagnate back in the mid-‘70s. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” kicks and grooves like a motherfucker! “She’s The One” is played much faster than the studio version and gets a neat harmonica intro, both to the tune’s significant benefit! “Lost In The Flood” is transformed gloriously from a quiet piano ballad to a big, dramatic hullabaloo! This is great stuff.

Unfortunately, the E Street Band immediately follows the red hot six-song run that starts off the show with an exceedingly slow, dull 12-minute soul ballad rearrangement of “The E Street Shuffle,” which makes me so very sad considering how hard the original version ruled. The band then spends the rest of the concert alternating attempts to rebuild the momentum they had established previously with wankfests and dirges seemingly designed to destroy that momentum all over again. The energy level goes up and down so sharply for the remainder of the record that listening to it makes me feel like I have bipolar disorder. To fully illustrate this, I shall now review the rest of the album using emojis.

“It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City”: 😃

“Backstreets”: 😃😃

A 17-minute rendition of “Kitty’s Back,” featuring everybody taking endless high school jazz band-style solos: 😱💩

“Jungleland”: 😑

“Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)”: 😃😃😃😎

“4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”: 😕

The famous “Detroit Medley,” featuring snippets of various early rock ‘n soul hits: 😍

“For You,” inexplicably presented here as a listless eight and a half-minute solo Bruce piano ballad: 😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴😴

“Quarter To Three”: 🙃

I mean, how am I supposed to respond to that kind of emotional instability? Start taking antipsychotics? Thanks a lot, Bruce. You literally made me go insane.



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