Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Miked - Live Reviews from Issue #60 Nov-Dec 2005

Bruce Springsteen

Key Arena (Seattle, WA), August 11, 2005

Nothing in the couple hours that had come before could quite have hinted at the way Bruce Springsteen would end this solo show, with the possible exception that he both started and finished the night by casting the arena awash in a sonic spell of droning harmonium. But whereas he had begun with “Living Proof”, a sometimes-forgotten gem from 1992′s Lucky Town, he concluded with a startling selection: “Dream Baby Dream” by the 1970s art/punk duo Suicide.

And yet, somehow, it was a fitting bookend. The two songs, though emerging from entirely different eras and artists and contexts, communicated a similar message of hard-fought hope, of ultimate redemption, of delivery from darkness. Collectively, they were, in essence, quintessentially Springsteen.

You could generally say the same for the show as a whole, though that’s rather different from equating the aura of his solo performances with that of his E Street Band celebrations. Certainly Springsteen turns more introspective in this context; the mood tends to be less of a life-affirming party and more of a soul-searching journey. That’s befitting the nature of his latest disc, Devils & Dust, from which he played six songs on this night.

Though the new songs generally went over well, the audience still is clearly coming mainly for the back catalogue, from which Springsteen offered up a sort of hit-and-miss mixed bag. His best moments frequently came when he moved from guitar to piano; the opening chords of “Racing In The Streets” induced goosebumps, and “The River” delivered a deeper emotional impact than any other song in the set. Less effective among the old favorites was the encore selection “Growin’ Up”; though it’s one of Springsteen’s all-time best songs, on this night it felt too much like a paint-by-numbers rendering.

As strong as the piano numbers were, the set tended to lose heft when he switched to organ, which felt musically lightweight and cheesy by comparison. Springsteen also sacrificed some of the emotional impact of his vocals by resorting too often to an overly affected ghostly falsetto whine; it would have worked on a couple of songs, but interjecting it into the bridges or breaks of around half of the evening’s repertoire just came across as repetitive and empty after awhile.

His high point as a singer was “The Rising”, which he somehow managed to still pull off as a full-blown anthem even with just an acoustic guitar. The passage of time has created some distance between the song’s mantra and the events of September 11 which inspired it; the surprise is just how strong the song appears to be many years later, quite capable of standing on its own for the long haul.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #60 Nov-Dec 2005

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • Ray LaMontagne at the Woods at Fontanel (Nashville, Tenn. – July 25, 2014)
    Ray LaMontagne writes great songs and makes great records. And that's certainly no small feat. His live shows, though, while being technically and musically superlative, really don't leave the audience with a whole lot to hang on to other than the technique and the music. There's no personal engagement on LaMontagne's part. It's as i […]
  • Freight Train Boogie Show #264 features new music from Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes
    FTB Show #264 features the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show called Remedy.  Also new music from Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes. Here's the iTunes link to subscribe to the FTB podcasts.  Here's the direct link to … […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery - Man Is Born for Trouble (Album Review)
    The origin story of Joshua Powell & the Great Train Robbery is pivotal for an appreciation of Powell’s music. The name, inspired by the 1903 film The Great Train Robbery, the first silent western committed to celluloid, evokes Powell’s affinity for history, American aestheticism, and art that has passed through generations and endured technological revol […]
  • By the Time You Read This, It'll Be Over: A Pre-Newport Ramble
    Missing the first night -- likely the best of the three, given my taste and interest -- is sort of a bummer. But, on the other hand there's still two more days and nights to wander around the festival site, to hopefully discover a new act or the reinvention of something old. And, to be completely honest, the music and performances will run second to jus […]
  • Well Crafted, The “Not To Be Missed” Music Festival of 2014
    Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill located in pristine Harrodsburg, Kentucky plays host to what is shaping up to be the best Americana music festival of 2014.  Well Crafted, August 8-9 2014, couples some of the best musical talent in our beloved scene with the fine frothy libations of Kentucky’s local Craft Beer creators.  Shaker Steps Productions’ Derek Feldma […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter