CD/DVD Review ? Bruce Springsteen and The Sessions Band: Live in Dublin

SpringsteenCD-01-01.jpgBruce Springsteen and The Sessions Band

Live in Dublin

Columbia (88697-09582 2, 88697 09581 9) CD/DVD
Grade: ****

As an outgrowth of last year?s Seeger Sessions ? the Boss? unexpected career twist toward traditional Americana ? the Live In Dublin double disc and companion DVD finds him employing his 17-piece Sessions Band to expand that musical palette and garner exhilarating results.

No matter there?s no trace of Little Steven, Nils Lofgren or the Big Man among the musicians here. Watching the players on the DVD is like witnessing some traveling musical revue that combines vintage tunes, contemporary savvy and impressive virtuosity.

Where Springsteen?s earlier folk forays ? the bare-bones Nebraska and more recent Devil & Dust ? confirmed his everyman stance, this set delves into actual tradition via well-worn standards like ?Erie Canal,? ?My Oklahoma Home,? ?We Shall Overcome? and, appropriately, rugged Irish ballads.

Shifting the spotlight to an arsenal of fiddles, whistles, banjos, brass and backing vocalists, the immaculate arrangements recall the Pogues and the Waterboys.

Although not exactly the uninhibited rock ‘n? roll wild man usually found at the helm of the E Street Band, Springsteen still commands that same innate ability to rally the masses. Indeed, the Dublin audience roars its approval at the up-tempo tunes, pays rapt attention during somber ballads and regularly sings along, even after the performers? last notes have faded into the ether.

The album?s awe factor is heightened by the radically reworked versions of Springsteen standards ? ?Blinded By The Light,? ?Growin? Up,? ?Atlantic City? ? each transformed and all but unrecognizable as rowdy, revved-up hoedowns. Ultimately though, it?s the moving covers of the revered spiritual ?We Shall Overcome? and his own ?If I Should Fall Behind? that prove that whether Springsteen is on E Street or in Ireland, passion and sentiment make for universal bonds.

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