By all rights, Jersey’s finest, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were supposed to be spending Spring 2020 recording, and hitting the road soon after album-making’s finale for yet another marathon tour of 3-hour plus shows for the eternal road dogs. Though new albums are welcome, even necessary, for an author such as Springsteen and a roaring, driving muse/vehicle such as the E Street crew, live (with a hard ‘I’) is where that hot assembled lot live (with a soft ‘I’ vowel sound). Think of every one of the finest Bruce moments: they’re gig rocking, barnstorming, gospel shouting, fire and brimstone occasions on large scale stages with rabid enthusiastic crowds – albeit not have as rabid as the Boss himself.
Enter “Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, First Union Center, Philadelphia, September 25 1999.”
As part of the long-running, pseudo-bootleg-not-bootleg vein-popping live series from the Boss’ own box of professionally recorded concert treats and his archival team at live.brucespringsteen.net, this particular Philly gig of 1999 fell two days after Bruce’s 50th birthday, and came from a truly heated set of six shows in town – his first major run of gigs in more than 11 years with him fronting the E Street Band (he toured, in between without the E’s, and frankly, the Boss never gelled on stage without Little Steven, Clarence Clemmons and Max Weinstein. Sorry…).
Rolling Stone magazine noted at the time that the Boss and the band played scads of rarities such as “Blinded by the Light” and “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” and that the autumn Philly gig opened with “Incident on 57th Street,” a song that hadn’t been played since 1980. Along with an epic setlist that included “Jungleland,” “New York City Serenade,” “Atlantic City,” “Murder Incorporated,” “Land of Hope and Dreams,” “Two Hearts,” “Sherry Darling,” “Point Blank” and “The Streets of Philadelphia,” the September 25, 1999 gig marked one of the first times E and BS hit the mark on “New York City Serenade” and a 24-year hiatus.
Get to work, boys, during C-19’s downtime. We need something real, live, and in our faces soon.