Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concert

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are captured at the height of their powers on this show recorded over two nights Madison Square Garden in September of 1979.

I’m taking a brief break from The Beatles and Get Back to check out this DVD/Blu-Ray of Springsteen’s contribution to the M.U.S.E. No Nukes benefit held in New York City. So, though I’m not a fan of the term, I guess I can say I’m deeply immersed in Dad Rock this weekend.

Bruce SpringsteenAfter more than 40 years on the road and recording, Springsteen’s shows have become those of legend, but it wasn’t always that way. Sure Bruce had hit big with Born To Run back in 1975 and any rock & roll fan worth their salt who was in the Northeast US had probably seen him and the E Street Band by 1979 (I saw them in ’76). But this is where Bruce finally establishes himself as a major force on stage.

Bruce Springsteen

Setting the stage (so to speak), Darkness On The Edge Of Town had been released in 1978 and had been toured til the end of the end. After some well-deserved time off, Bruce and the band regrouped to record what would eventually become The River in in October of 1980. In between, we have this…two sweat-soaked shows performed by an “aging” Springsteen (he was days away from turning 30) and the classic E Street band line-up…Steve Van Zandt, Roy Bittan, Max Weinberg, Garry Tallent, Danny Federici and, the Big Man, Clarence Clemons. Incredibly, all but Clemons and Federici are still alive and well and playing with the band today…although these days Bruce can most likely be found on Broadway doing his Springsteen On Broadway show, accompanied only by wife, Patti Scialfa.  

But over at the MSG, Bruce and the boys were helping Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall and Graham Nash and the No Nukes cause.

As is immediately evident, Springsteen is well-rested and the band is ready to rock as they launch into Prove It All Night, to kick things off.

The best of the two shows have been edited together and presented as one concert and the sound, mixed by Bob Clearmountain, is perfect…powerful and punchy. The pictures are almost as good. Shot on 16mm film, the crew had to change film rolls every 9 minutes or so, resulting in a few wobbly shots (no steady-cam here) and Miami Steve’s guitar solo during Jungleland almost not covered at all (film maker Jon Kilik apologizes to Van Zandt in the liner notes).

But what they lose in technical perfection, they gain in pure rock & roll emotion.

Bruce SprFor me, that emotion came to a head during The Promised Land and into The River. With 40 years’ hindsight, The Promised Land now sounds more like a eulogy than an anthem and The River always makes me cry.

The adrenalin really starts pumping during Born To Run followed by Rosalita and it never lets up. This is live rock and roll at its very best…the E Street band is firing on all cylinders and Bruce is singing and playing as if his life depends on it.

“I can’t go on like this”, he exclaims halfway through the show, “I’m thirty years old!”.

There’s no rest for the wicked and Bruce and the band tear it up with choice oldies like Gary US BondsQuarter To Three, Buddy Holly’s Rave On and Stay with help from Jackson Browne, Rosemary Butler and an impossibly young looking Tom Petty.

This is 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated rock & roll!

Marty Duda