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DVD Review - Springsteen Live 

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.


With the fancy new sound systems that come with many new DVD systems these days, it's no wonder that there are more and more concert films hitting the format. If they're done well, they can make your living room feel like a front-row seat. That's definitely the case with this film made at two Madison Square Garden concerts in the summer of 2000. In fact, the Boss himself even says the band never sounded so good as it did on its last world tour.


Bruce Springsteen concerts have always been legendary affairs, often going four hours or more. On this two-disc set, you get 25 songs: The first disc is the concert film that aired on HBO last year; the second disc is filled with outtakes. While disc two isn't as strong, it does have a couple gems, like "Light of Day," which showcases Springsteen's sense of humor, and "Thunder Road," which ranks up there with "Born to Run" as essential Bruce.


There isn't much in the way of bonus features, although you do get a 15-minute interview with Bob Costas. While most of the band members' comments are along the it's-fun-being-on-the-road-again line, Springsteen has some interesting things to say. "I always felt," he tells Costas, "that it was supposed to be a revival meeting and a circus, a dancehall, a political rally -- all those things were meant to be rolled into what you presented. And that was rock 'n' roll for me."


When you watch the crowd sway in unison or pound their fists to the chorus of "Born to Run" (the disc's best track), you can see he has succeeded. Springsteen is the reigning bard of the working class, and his prolific output has always touched a nerve as it has captured the despair of modern life -- but it is never a despair that cannot be conquered by hope. In that way, his music offers a political message of sorts.


And his politics got him in trouble during this run of shows in New York City, since he was performing a song called "American Skin (41 Shots)" about the killing of Amadou Diallo by New York City policemen. The police even refused to work security for the shows. The song closes out the first disc, and it is chilling, with its chorus of, "It ain't no secret / You can get killed just for living in your American skin."

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