Home / Music / Music DVD Review: Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band – London Calling: Live In Hyde Park

Music DVD Review: Bruce Springsteen And The E Street Band – London Calling: Live In Hyde Park

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Of the three official live DVDs from Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band released over the past decade — and you can make that four if you count the Live At Hammersmith Odeon 1975 DVD included with the deluxe 30th anniversary version of Born To Run — this is by far the best of them.

Here is why.

London Calling: Live In Hyde Park may not feature the greatest fans' dream setlist ever. Hell, it doesn't even come from the tour that topped most of the recent hardcore wish lists (that distinction probably belongs to the 2007-08 tour behind the Magic album).

But it is the first time the full experience of a complete Springsteen/E Street Band show — start to stop — has successfully been documented on DVD. There are none of the screwy song-gaps of 2001's Live In New York City. Nor is there the disjointed sequencing of 2003's Live In Barcelona.

Rather, what you get here is the full-on experience, before a stadium of rabid British fans screaming and singing their lungs out exactly as it happened. This is about as close as it gets to being there.

It also doesn't hurt things one bit that Bruce and the E Street Band are absolutely on fire here. The first four songs are played at a such a rapid-fire, almost punk-rock sort of pace, they occur as a near blur.

Beginning with a craftily chosen cover of the Clash's "London Calling" and ending with the Born To Run chestnut "She's The One," Bruce and the E Street Band roar through this four-song opening sequence with such a ferocity you'd think they were playing for their very lives. Max Weinberg — who on the most routine of days plays his drums pretty damn hard — pounds the living crap out of the skins here.

Springsteen himself begins the show in a light blue-gray shirt, which by the end of these four songs is half-drenched in his own sweat. By the end of the sixth song, an audibly called-out "Out In The Streets," he is absolutely soaked.

As much as some hardcore fans have vociferously stated their preference for the Magic shows over the Working On A Dream tour documented here, the E Street Band sounds tighter here than at either of the two shows I personally witnessed on the former tour.

That said, the WOAD songs do bring down the energy level just a notch. On "Outlaw Pete," Bruce works the dramatic lyrics for all they are worth — and since he already has the crowd in the palms of his hands, they mostly oblige him. Still, I'll be the first to admit that this song doesn't rank high on my own list of favorites.

But on the title track of WOAD, Bruce works the crowd into a frenzy with one of his trademark fire and brimstone sermons about turning Hyde Park into a "house of love." Needless to say, the crowd eats this right up, and that same energy translates quite nicely on the DVD.

Other highlights here include Springsteen trying to make it back up the stairs to the stage during "Out In The Streets" in time for the chorus. "Keep it goin' Stevie," Bruce cries out laughing. To which Van Zandt replies "take your time." By the time Bruce is back up onstage, he says "are you nuts? Get me a fuckin' elevator…I'm sixty!"

Which brings up another reason why this is such a great concert document. The band seems to be having so much fun onstage, they can often barely contain themselves. During "Glory Days" in particular, Steve Van Zandt is cracking up so much, he can hardly get through his own vocal parts. Bruce himself gets in his own great comedy bit by shouting for "more cowbell."

As the sun finally starts to set on a concert which began hours earlier under daylight, the outdoor setting provides a gorgeous backdrop for a beautiful version of "Jungleland."

Underneath the graying London skies, Clarence Clemons nails the sax solo, as both audience and band are bathed in dramatic blue lighting. On the extras here, there is an equally dramatic scene where smoke rises from Springsteen during a beautifully delivered rendition of "The River" from England's "other festival" at Glastonbury.

London Calling: Live In Hyde Park is a great DVD, which probably stands as the best Springsteen/E Street Band concert document to date. That said, I also have to register my one personal bitch here — and it's a major one.

The packaging sucks.

London Calling: Live In Hyde Park comes in a fold-out cardboard sleeve, containing two pockets housing the actual DVDs. The pockets are so tight, you have to push the discs out to play them, which guarantees that the discs are going to get scratched over time, if not right off. On my very first play, I already experienced some scratch related glitches — on "Rosalita" for Pete's sake — that I've no doubt will only become worse over repeated plays.

Until Sony, Jon Landau, or whoever makes the packaging decisions on these things figures out that politically correct "green" packaging also needs to take the user-experience into account (a digi-pak would have been nice here), I strongly suggest that buyers house the discs outside of the package.

Other than that, I've no complaints with London Calling: Live In Hyde Park. None whatsoever.

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Sean Collins-Smith

    Just bought this for my brother. Glad to see you liked it!

  • totally agree. if you don’t get a little chill in the segue from London Calling -> Badlands, you just might be dead.

  • Dr. Jimmy

    The blu-ray packaging is nice. Hard shell case with a nice little booklet of photos.

  • Vince Krevinas

    I can’t agree with you more on this show. Astounding energy, musical chops, and overall excitement! My only gripe on the tour, as a whole, is the lack of WOAD songs. I, for one, thought the album, although highly rated by many, was severely underrated by others. T’ve heard live and, through boots, all the WOAD songs that he did and they all sounded great live! Including “Queen of the Supermarket” done once in Sweden. A rare instance of artistic insecurity on Bruce’s part not to do more of the album.

  • Niall Dargan

    Stunning live gig!!!!! Easily one of the best ive ever seen.

  • Ferry

    Is there a live dvd available of his performance at Glastonbury last year? Watched that performance on tv and it was amazing to see him rocking the place

  • There’s no official document from Glastonbury, but I bet if you searched hard enough you might find a Bootleg (especially if it was broadcast on TV). The one song included here from Glastonbury, “The River” is pretty amazing.

    Nice to hear that the Blu-ray packaging is better than what us poor folk who still have to make do with DVD got. Maybe we’ll get a break next time around…

    Thanx for the comments everyone.


  • Jeffrey Hillard

    I’m very glad to see a new film featuring Springsteen’s music. Another new generation now has the opportunity to see his timeless art, his indelible music. It spans generations, still.

    I saw him perhaps 25 years ago now, and it was one of the greatest shows I have ever attended. I look forward to this new Blu-Ray release.

    [edited for possible spam content]

  • I first saw him in 75′ Jeffrey, after being dragged (reluctantly) to the show by a friend. I became an instant convert that night and have seen him more than 35 times since. Nothing like it, that’s for sure…


  • Mike Holdsworth

    Had the pleasure of being at this fantastic concert and also Neil Young at Hyde Park on the same weekend. What is also very odd about the dreadful pack format is that most of the photographs are not from Hyde Park. I think the front colour pic is but none of the others. i also just realised that there is a cheapo insert under the middle flap. By the time I realised (today a couple of weeks after buying) it was creased – and not great quality in the first place!

  • kumar

    fantastic dvd especially glory days and rising