Springsteen & I

Eagle Vision [Release Date 28.10.2013]

Bruce Springsteen is an artist who seems to inspire a unique awe and affection among his fans, so it somehow seems appropriate that he is the subject of a music film with a difference. Concert footage usually forms the bulk of most music film and releases, and rarely is the story told by the artist’s fans.

In this case, the tables are turned; while there are clips of rare footage from throughout his career, the main theme of the film is home videos to explain what ‘the Boss’ means to people’s lives.

After many years as a Springsteen agnostic, in recent years I have been converted in particular through the best live shows you can imagine, and it was at his summer gig in the Olympic Park that I saw this advertised, with the big name of Ridley Scott behind it.

The promised film screening was a blink and you miss it affair, but the DVD has swiftly been released and the low-tech footage is as far from your big budget Gladiator epic as can be imagined. Fans are asked to sum him up in three words and there are a series of unlinked and at times disjointed stories and reminiscences.

Not all of these work and many should have been left on the proverbial cutting room floor. Some footage, such as the bored sounding woman truck driver and the American who inexplicably collapses into tears while driving, may have been retained for the cringe factor. Anyone wanting to analyse the secret of Springsteen’s appeal won’t have it analysed in depth for them here, but needs to deduce the truth themselves based on the footage.

The best stories are probably from those who have been plucked from the audience by the man himself at a show, most notably the Elvis impersonator who came on stage in Philadelphia, and was classily sent on his way by Bruce when he outstayed his welcome with an ‘Elvis has left the building’, and the fan who took a sign to proclaim that his girlfriend had just dumped him. The moment he is consoled by Bruce on stage with a mixture of warm reassurance and humour is perhaps the defining example for me of the humanity that marks his shows.

The funniest moments of all are provided by a splendidly acerbic Mancunian, fated to follow his wife’s idol, who moans at the shows being too long and ruining perfectly good European sightseeing trips!

 The extras include videos from four rather more skilled amateur  filmmakers, and a number of the participants in the film being brought face to face with the Boss in Copenhagen, including the aforementioned Springsteen sceptic Dave.

Moreover six songs from his 2012 Hyde Park performance probably speak more articulately to his appeal than the fan footage, summing up his current performance in  a nutshell. A stripped down rendition of Thunder Road, a song that has assumed almost mythical status among his fans, and a rocking Because The Night with Nils Lofgren letting rip on guitar as he spins one legged on the spot, are followed by Shackled and Drawn and We Are Alive, which show off the current, horn enhanced E Street lineup .

Then fellow rock royalty Paul McCartney guests on I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout although, having never originally seen it, they do make it to the end of the latter despite the media firestorm at the time about the plug being pulled.

While the main feature is a bit of a cureate’s egg,  taken as a package this is both a nice souvenir for Springsteen fans and an alternative introduction for the more casual observer as to why the man is considered such a legend.  ****

Review by Andy Nathan



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