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Bringing the Celebration Back Home,
This review is from: Live In Dublin (2CD/DVD) (Audio CD)
Roughly a year ago Springsteen surprised a lot of people when he released We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessions. A record that was not so much a tribute to Pete Seeger but more a celebration of American musical history. The record was uncommonly loose for Springsteen's standards, the song basically being the result of impromptu sessions. Musically the album mixed damn near every style in American folk music between New Orleans Gumbo & Blue Grass. A highly unorthodox style that would raise the eyebrows of purists but sounded catchy as hell. The song selection on the record went back hundreds of years but had a strong connection with today and Bruce's own catalogue.
Even before the album went on sale, concerts were announced and tickets were sold in Europe. Again, nobody quite knew what to expect from this evening of gospel, folk and blues performed by Bruce Springsteen & his 17 piece Seeger Sessions Band. Nobody knew what to expect but the shows in Europe sold out in minutes. I think few who went were disappointed.
Live in Dublin is a registration of what this tour was about, not necessarily a registration of the concert experience. The DVD clocks in at a mighty two hours, the shows were often pushing the two and a half. Some concessions seem to have been made to make the show fit on one disc. Concessions that'll no doubt bother a lot of fans. Two tour staples were cut from the set. John Henry and You Can Look were played every night, yet didn't make the DVD. A totally redundant track as Love of the Common People did, as a bonus. Springsteen has always made strange choices when it comes to releasing his live material and this is certainly one of them.
Despite those odd choices the Live in Dublin DVD gives you a pretty good sense off how good these shows were. The tour was in part a explicit political rally with anti-war songs as Ms McGrath or the New Orleans tribute How Can a Poor Man (stand such times and live). Yet most of the time its message was more subtle. Songs as Eyes on the Prize, a recast to the civil rights movement, or When the Saints Come Marchin' In served the same function, but in a more subdued manner.
The political issues that the tour tried to get back on the agenda weren't its greatest achievement by no means. The celebration of music was. Springsteen's own material fitted in seamlessly adapted to the style of the tour. Open All Night became a stomper in the style of Louis Jordan, Highway Patrolman revoked the images of Hank Williams, Louis Armstrong was omni present in the horn section and if you didn't know any better Jesse James felt like it had been in Bruce's catalogue since mid eighties.
The DVD captures all the musicians on stage in all there glory. Seldom did Springsteen give his band so much of the lime light. And during no tour he did before did the audience play such a crucial role. The band sung, danced and played with the audience. Pay Me My Money Down was sung minutes after the band left the stage, until they came back for the encores and even the most convinced atheist would belt out the words to Jacob's Ladder. The Seeger Sessions Tour was a celebration and this DVD brings it all back.