Sunday, May 11, 2008

Treasures From The Vault

Thanks to Steven Rubio, this weekend I discovered Wolfgang’s Vault, which is described on the Web site as “the home for the past, present and future of live music.” Specifically, you can find literally hundreds (over 1000, actually) of concerts from The Bill Graham Archives, as well as the King Biscuit Flower Hour (a name that will mean a lot to people over a certain age, and absolutely nothing to those under that age) and other radio shows which featured live concert programming.

The site is a treasure trove of epic proportions, and I can already tell I’m going to need to be careful with it, because it is absolutely addictive. I haven’t listened to a complete concert yet, but so far I’ve already listened to snippets from shows by Springsteen, The Clash, The Stones, The Who, Hendrix, Patti Smith, The Band, Elvis Costello, Warren Zevon, Van Morrison, and James Taylor. And that’s barely scratching the surface.

It won’t come as a surprise to my friends and the regular readers of this blog that the concert I’ve listened to the most is Springsteen’s Winterland show, recorded on December 15, 1978. The Winterland show is one of, if not the single, most famous shows in the Bruce pantheon. It was broadcast live, and I can remember listening to it in my room. I also remember it being one of the dumbest moments of my life, because inexplicably I didn’t record it. It’s widely available on bootlegs, but I’d never bought one, so until now I’d never listened to it again.

It is an amazing show; the blockbuster version of “Prove It All Night” the band played on this tour is worth the price of admission all by itself. For historians and completists, there are also early versions of “The Ties That Bind” and “Point Blank,” the former with a vastly different arrangement and the latter with some very different lyrics than those which turned up on The River.

It’s also a fascinating show, for the setlist alone:

Badlands / Streets of Fire / Spirits in the Night / Darkness on The Edge of Town / Factory / The Promised Land / Prove It All Night / Racing In The Streets / Thunder Road / Jungleland / The Ties That Bind / Santa Claus Is Coming To Town / The Fever / Fire / Candy's Room / Because The Night / Point Blank / Mona-She's The One - I Get Mad / Backstreets / Rosalita / Born To Run / Detroit Medley / 10th Avenue Freeze Out / Raise Your Hand / Twist And Shout

Check out the sequencing - of the first nine songs, 8 (!) are from Darkness on the Edge of Town. Only then does Bruce delve into the older albums, pull some rarities out of his back pocket, as well as some surprises (“The Fever,” “Because the Night,” which at the time was best known for being a hit by Patti Smith, “Fire”). I can’t imagine him doing something like this today – sure, the new album had been out for six months by the time the band played this show, but it’s still amazing to me that he would lead almost exclusively with songs from a single record.

But at this late date, who am I to quibble? Right now I just look forward to finding more treasures.

1 comment:

Mona said...

Thanks for the info about this site, Jeff. I spent some quality time listening to BB King at the Fillmore in '68. What a treasure!