It’s actually a mystery unsolved how the greatest rock’n’roll performer of the last 40 years has never got in the official discography a Live Recording worthily able to certify the energy and beauty of one of his shows. Never understood if it’s his fault, or rather his management’s or record company’s. But thankfully the pirate market made up for this despicable gap, and we do have recorded testimony of one of the Eight Wonders of the Last Century: a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band live Show.
The bootleg industry do justice to an artist whose live performance is a completely different thing, compared to the recording studio. He’s a born visceral live talent, prodigal, wild yet human, who alone kept the rock’n’roll going when in the Eighties it seemed doomed to reach the end of the line. One of the best, possibly THE best, is the Passaic 1978 bootleg, Darkness on the edge town Tour, which in my personal opinion is the unbeatable peak of Bruce’s live career. Long shows full of rage and passion, romance and drama, epic and exciting, made yet more intense from his personal frustration caused by the legal lawsuit against Mike Appel. He could not go to record in studio, so he exploded on stage: it was since The Rolling Stones’ Exile tour that rock’n’roll has not experienced such a violent burst of energy and wilderness, a man prisoner of rock’n’roll who was going to save everything there has been from Elvis on, just as a horde of vandals called Punk was about to set on fire the genre and its history.
The 1978 Springsteen is like a 1971, a 1982, a 1990 Barolo: extraordinary vintage years, unique, sublime moments never to be equalled. The 1981 Springsteen with The River Tour will actually come near enough, but the Darkness era will remain a transcendental experience, a connection with the divine, the real depiction of what rock’n’roll is in the whole of its perspective: music, live expression, empathy, passion, human connection.