Live In New York City

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

After meandering through a few stimulating detours, Bruce Springsteen decided to end the twentieth century with a bang. Who else could the Boss turn to but his ever-faithful E Street Band. Drummer Max Weinberg took a leave of absence from his duties as bandleader on Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Stevie Van Zandt juggled his schedule to accommodate his former employer while maintaining his day job as Silvio Dante on The Sopranos. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band hit the road in 1999 and ended up at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 2000, culminating in an HBO special and companion two-CD set entitled Live In New York City.

The show opens up with the pulsating "My Love Will Not Let You Down" and efficiently slips into "Prove It All Night." After blasting through "Two Hearts," the first of several tunes from The River, Springsteen and company skip a fitting "New York City Serenade" (which would have been an interesting salute to former E Streeter David Sancious as well as the city they were playing) and opt to go with "Atlantic City." From there, Springsteen unearths an elegant arrangement of "Mansion On The Hill." After a smooth sax intro from Clarence Clemons, the band falls into a tasteful rendition of "The River." Suddenly, the CD erupts with 1995's "Youngstown" and "Murder Incorporated," featuring a searing triple guitar attack courtesy of Springsteen, Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren. The compelling "Badlands" follows along with "Out In The Streets," which includes everyone in the band as well as the entire audience shouting out the chorus. Just when you think the first CD has ended, an uncredited, last minute addition of "Born To Run" comes spiraling out of the speakers. A welcomed surprise for any Springsteen fan.

The second disc begins with a participatory and extended "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," which includes a slice of Al Green's "Take Me To The River" along with a saucy introduction of the band. Then a couple of new songs previewed during the 1999-2000 tour come into play. While "Land Of Hope And Dreams" maintains a rather positive albeit elongated vibe, "American Skin (41 shots)" takes a much more controversial stance. A diatribe regarding an incident in New York when an African immigrant named Amadou Diallo was killed by police officers, Springsteen caught a lot of flak for this song from the NYPD during his run at Madison Square Garden. Still, you can't argue with the sentiment that pours out, proving once and for all that the Boss can still tug at the old heartstrings when he wants to. Rounded out by six additional tracks — including a stirring "Lost In The Flood," an acoustic version of "Born In The U.S.A." and a dramatic "Jungleland" — that didn't make it to the HBO special, Live In New York City is Springsteen's third live album. It captures him and the E Street Band in their most masterful phase: Live and on fire.

~ Shawn Perry

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