Live From New York Page 2
Prove It All Night It's precisely because Springsteen hardly ever does the same concert two nights in a row that so many fans attend every show he has in a city. During the tour, which spanned 15 months, the band played more than 130 performances and more than 100 songs. And Springsteen, obviously aware that many people would attend all ten nights at the Garden, served up 73 different songs during that part of the tour alone.
Bruce and the band could have easily filled both discs of the DVD with nothing but their greatest hits. And, yes, there are some instantly recognizable tunes here, like "Born to Run," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and "Badlands." But Springsteen decided instead to go with a mix of classics, rarities, and new songs, such as the controversial "American Skin (41 Shots)."
But even with the hits, he goes for the unexpected. A fan cueing up "Born in the U.S.A." and expecting the familiar full-blown rock anthem is instead treated to just Bruce with his guitar.
"This is a big song, an important song, and I didn't know how to approach it at first," explains editor Thom Zimny, who won an Emmy award for his work on the HBO special. "I just kept watching clips of Bruce's face again and again and again. No other camera angles. No other shots. And by watching his face, I could see that he was having a dialogue with his guitar - the guitar would respond and then his face would respond. And that became my approach in cutting this."
Mixing engineer Bob Clearmountain, who has worked with Springsteen for 20 years, found he had to be just as delicate with the sound on this track. "Obviously, the focus is just on him here, so I used studio effects like reverb and delays to offset the sound of the hall and to augment his performance," he explains. "I wanted this song to sound more melancholy, so it's not real dry and up front. Bruce taught me that keeping the focus on the song is the most important thing."
Manager Landau gave Zimny similar advice when he was confronted with editing 90 hours of footage from 13 cameras. "He told me, 'You'll find all the emotion and a lot of the direction in Bruce's eyes.' That comment stayed with me throughout the whole process."
Springsteen's decision to emphasize substance over style prompted Zimny to avoid a typical music-video approach with the editing. "Bruce works in a linear fashion, so everything on the DVD, including the featurette, had to stand up on its own. It's as if each song is its own concert - it has its own message."
When I ask Travis why they avoided the crane shots and elaborate angles that have pretty much become the standard with concert videos, he tells me it was Springsteen's decision to keep the cameras out of the audience's way. He also didn't want a lot of flashy cutting to interfere with the home viewer's enjoyment of the music.
"Because Bruce said no to using cranes and camera tracks, we had no choice but to stay focused on the performance - which is the beauty of this project," Hilson explains. "We had a handheld camera on stage and two steadycams near the stage, but that was as fancy as it got." They also used ten stationary cameras placed throughout the Garden for medium- and long-range shots. "It looks the way it does because it's totally true to the performance. It's all about capturing the energy."
"Bruce is really a pretty simple, grassroots kind of performer," says lighting designer Jeff Ravitz. His 15-year collaboration with Springsteen has given Ravitz an intuitive understanding of how his lighting helps to showcase the music. "We both knew exactly how we wanted to do the 1995 solo acoustic tour," recalls Ravitz, who won an Emmy award for his design for the HBO special. "We really didn't have to say a word to each other. It was very much like what you see in the 'Born in the U.S.A.' cut on the DVD."
How he should light the reunion tour became clear to Ravitz after he saw the first few band rehearsals. "Bruce loved the acoustic tour so much that he wanted to recreate that vibe here, even though he and the band were doing big, loud rock & roll songs and having a lot of fun."
Springsteen's no-nonsense approach permeates every aspect of the DVD - even the menus according to legendary mastering engineer Bob Ludwig. "Bruce was as straight-ahead as you can be, and they almost couldn't be more simple," he says of the menus. "This is fine, because his focus is on the music, and he never wants anything to detract from that."