If I wanted to show someone the power and majesty of the mighty E Street Band on film, London Calling would do the trick. Bruce Springsteen's latest concert film is everything you'd expect from the greatest live band on earth, and much more. Personally, it's my favorite live release of Bruce's, and it's even more special because I was in attendance. Check out my review from that night.
This has been said numerous times already; there were many other better shows that were filmed and could've been released from the '09 tour, but in retrospect, the Hyde Park show is a perfect representation of that tour. Strong setlist with enough hits, rarities and covers to keep the fans content. The band was on fire that night, despite having played Glastonbury less than 24 hours earlier. I thought Bruce's voice was fine for the most part, though on some songs he became really hoarse. But hey, it's a fucking rock & roll concert. The important thing here is that he and the band were having a ball onstage.
It's also obvious as to why they decided to release this show. Visually, it's fucking spectacular. It was pretty bright for the most part, and the viewers get to see the amazing sea of people. Those crane shots of the London crowd are awe-inspiring. It's funny when you're amongst the 50,000 you don't realise how immense the place is until you watch the film. And it's another sight to behold as night falls towards the end, as the band goes into Jungleland.
The video was shot in high-def, so the quality is top-notch, even on a normal definition tv. Blu-ray is something else. In fact, the picture is so sharp I could spot myself in one of those moving aerial crowd shots. The video editing works for the most part, and we are directed to what we wanna see during the concert. I just got a few gripes about some stuff -- they should've shown the band walking onstage at the start, instead of cutting right into London Calling after the opening credits. The intro on Outlaw Pete was considerably shortened after cutting out The Shadows' guitar instrumental (copyright maybe?). The shot of Bruce taking the Jungleland sign was also eliminated.
On the other hand, there are so many incredible moments. We see plenty of interaction between Bruce and the band members, like Bruce quarterbacking the band. Right after Badlands, you can catch a rare glimpse of him calling for an audible and altering the setlist, in which they launch into Night and then followed by She's The One. Not often you see Bruce complaining about his age after Out In The Street ("Get me a fucking elevator! I'm fucking 60!") The sign request portion is an absolute joy to watch, especially Brian Fallon joining the band onstage for No Surrender. He killed on those vocals. Racing In The Street was a big highlight for me. It never once crossed my mind that they would play that song ever. I remember a feeling of euphoria overwhelm me when they started Racing. Lotta great memories came flooding back as I watched this.
The sound mix is superb it's almost perfect. By far the best I've heard on any live DVD. I clearly remembered the sound being just right on the actual day, for an outdoor festival show. Kudos to Bob Clearmountain for doing a fine job. Every instrument in the mix is crystal clear and there's room for each one to breathe. I can finally hear Stevie's guitar work on most of the songs. The crowd isn't intrusive and they come in at the right moments. I wouldn't go so far as to say they were a passionate crowd, but they sure were an attentive one from where I was standing. The last part of Jungleland for example -- everybody listened when Bruce sang the outro. The crowd was so fucking mesmerized they were dead silent.
You don't need fancy bells and whistles to put on a great live show. Just watch London Calling, which is seriously mindblowing stuff. You can count on Bruce Springsteen to turn an outdoor show of this scale into an intimate club gig.