The Live Series: Stripped Down

On 17 July, 2020 a new Bruce Springsteen archival live compilation was released via streaming services. It is the eight “chapter” of the Live Series, a joint product of the Legacy imprint of Springsteen’s Sony label and Nugs.net. This new playlist gathers 15 ”stripped down” live renditions of songs that Springsteen has played with The E Street Band over the years.

I must admit I’ve never been a huge fan of acoustic or “stripped down“ renditions of Springsteen’s songs (or any songs for that matter), so this release is a bit of a disappointment to me. I find it to be the weakest and mundane release of the Live Series so far. However, there are a few songs I’d like to highlight:

One of my favourites of this release is Born To Run (MSG, 05/23/1988). It’s a fairly frequently played rendition with Springsteen on the guitar and harmonica. It is almost similar to the acoustic rendition from L.A Sports Arena 04/27/1988, which was released on the Chimes of Freedom Maxi single that I bought in 1988, and that I’ve since then played numerous times. I especially like the part where the audience sing along.

The premiere of the song Soul Driver, later released on Human Touch (1992), was performed during one of two acoustic shows at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on November 16 and 17, 1990, held to raise funds for the non-profit organisation Christic Institute (accordning to Brucebase the song was performed on the second show, the 17th). Both shows were included on the tenth official release through the Bruce Springsteen Archives.

Cynthia, a Born in the USA-outtake released on Tracks (1988), is a rarity that has only been played live a total of 12 times (three of them are on official downloads). The Live Series-version is, compared to the studio version, more sinister and dramatic, with Bruce solo on his guitar.

Of course, like many other artists, Bruce Springsteen will not perform live this year due to the pandemic, but there are still lot happening to keep fans happy while waiting (and longing) for a new album and tour; the releases of the Live Series, the regular monthly archive releases of shows to download and the “From my Home to Yours”-sessions where Springsteen regularly acts as DJ for E Street Radio on SiriusXm. News: the shows will be re-versioned for the BBC, and available to listen to on BBC Sounds live and on-demand from midnight on Saturday July 25th.

“What’s up on E Street?”, is a new online series where Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music at Monmouth University highlights the individual members of the band and how they are dealing with the global COVID-19 pandemic. The third episode features drummer Max Weinberg and will go live on Tuesday, July 21.


The Live Series: Stripped Down track list:

  • Dancing in the Dark (Live at Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA – 10/13/1986)
  • Seeds (Live at Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA – 10/13/1986)
  • Born to Run (Live at Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY – 05/23/1988)
  • Soul Driver (Live at The Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA – 11/16/1990)
  • Bobby Jean (Live at King’s Hall, Belfast UK – 03/19/1996)
  • Adam Raised a Cain (Live at St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold, NJ – 11/24/1996)
  • Youngstown (Live at King’s Hall, Belfast UK – 03/19/1996)
  • Independence Day (Live at Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ – 11/24/1996)
  • Two Hearts (Live at St. Rose of Lima School, Freehold, NJ – 11/08/1996)
  • When You’re Alone (Live at Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, NJ – 11/24/1996)
  • The River (Live at Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI – 08/03/2005)
  • Cynthia (Live at Schottenstein Center, Columbus, OH – 07/31/2005)
  • This Hard Land (Live at Hovet, Stockholm, Sweden – 06/25/2005)
  • All That Heaven Will Allow (Live at Sovereign Bank Arena, Trenton, NJ – 11/22/2005)
  • Empty Sky (Live at Sovereign Bank Arena, Trenton, NJ – 11/22/2005)

The Live Series:

5 comments

  1. I love Bruce acoustic although I never saw him live during a whole acoustic concert. (But I had the luck to get “Thunder Road” in San Siro on 3rd June 2013.)
    Thank you for further information to the tracklist… but, uhm, I’ve expected a nice mix of stripped down songs than lots of numbers from “The Ghost of Tom Joad”/”Devils & Dust”-Tour 😳

    Greetinx, S.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never seen a whole acoustic set either. Thunder Road is always great, no matter what (although I prefer it uptempo with full band).

      I agree with you. One could have expected a better mix of stripped down songs, but maybe the variation of songs done acoustically from other tours weren’t that high. Normally he plays Thunder Road and I’ve also seen Working on the Highway (a pre show performance) and the Promise played acoustically.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a whole, I have not been such an enthusiastic fan of Bruce solo, acoustically, over the yrs. Until seeing him do it live on Springsteen on Broadway, which was quite emotionally resonant, w his stories interspersed w the 15 songs, it was an altered version before that. I saw him do 4 songs acoustically at various gigs in NYC, for charities, which again is praiseworthy. Last year, he did something for the Rainforest Alliance by Sting and Trudie Skyler hosting a multi-fest of artists. Saw him do some of that also yrs ago at Amnesty International benefit performance, a substantial set then. And Comic set w other comedians also performing in NYC. Big bucks charity performances all. Was glad I could do it, when those came up, as it’s also difficult to get your hands on tickets. Of course, on Broadway went to Bruce himself. That was among my favorites of all time actually, as it felt like he bared his soul in those shows. And he even interacted w me too! I will never forget those 3x I went. I realize that I am exceedingly fortunate for having been there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hopefully he comes to your neck of the woods more often in the future. I am very fortunate to be in physical proximity. It was hell to get those tix even so, back when it was happening.

        Liked by 1 person

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