Live From New York Page 3
Spirit in the Night It would be hard to imagine a more dramatic contrast with the intimate "Born in the U.S.A." than the raucous, all-hands-on-deck revival meeting that is "Light of Day" - one of the high points of both the concert and the two-disc set. In mid-song, Springsteen whips through an extended monologue, rattling off the miles he and the band have traveled and the long list of places they've hit on the tour, stopping dramatically with "New Yawk City!"
His Holy Roller preacher routine had all of us in the audience laughing and cheering. "I can feel your pain," he proclaims, revealing his "ambassadorial mission to re-educate, resuscitate, regenerate, reconfiscate, recomboobalate, reindoctrinate, resexualate, rededicate, and reliberate" us with "the power and the glory - with the ministry - of rock & roll!"
He's drenched in sweat, pacing, raising his arms, reaching out his hands, moving around the edges of the stage to draw every one of us in. He isn't quitting, dammit, until every single person is "converted." He can't promise us life everlasting, he says, but he can promise us life "right now!" When he gestures for us to raise our hands and tells us to pledge our faith by saying, "Aye," we do - over and over again.
With everything that was happening onstage, it was easy for someone in the audience that night to miss the many nuances of Bruce's inspired performance, but they're all there on the DVD. For instance, in transforming himself into a revivalist preacher, Springsteen actually rolls his eyes up into his head, as if to put himself into a spiritual trance. And in the middle of his sermon, you can see him go over to guitarist Nils Lofgren and slap him on the forehead with his palm to "heal" him. Nils falls to his knees, never missing a note.
There's a playful riff where Springsteen teases the New York crowd about the many virtues of his home state, New Jersey: "I've seen people lost at the Statue of Liberty - which is actually in New Jersey!" Zimny's deft editing here makes sure you don't miss the great facial expressions and playful gestures from band members Patti Scialfa, Steven Van Zandt, and Clarence Clemons.
"Knowing every wink, every nod, every look - and then capturing it - is what brings someone right on stage," Hilson tells me. "That communication between the artists, which I think is as important as the music when you're doing something like this, lets their personalities come through. It shows the feelings that are there between the band members and makes the viewer feel closer to them all."
Hilson says they had a lot of fun with "Light of Day" in particular. "But sometimes it's hard to know what the right approach should be. The trick is to watch it on a television at home - and then you know if you've got it or not. Because anything can look wonderful in an edit suite." Sitting in a hotel room in Denver last April, he happened to turn on the HBO special. "I was relaxing with a tall glass of vodka and really wanted to turn the volume up on the TV, but it was already up as high as it would go. But that's when I realized it works. Even with the sound turned down, I could still feel the energy."
As Clearmountain explains, the sound was critical to capturing all of the song's considerable power. "It's easy to push the guitars too loud if you really want a rockin' sound. Or Roy's always playing something amazing on the piano, so you want to put the emphasis there because it sounds fantastic, but you have to be careful. You can't let anything get in the way of the lyric and the song no matter how interesting or cool it sounds. That's something I learned from Bruce a while ago, and it's as true as ever on this particular project."
To create the sense of being in the Garden, Clearmountain manipulated the sound in a number of ways that aren't obvious when you hear the DVD. "Besides the audience sounds, it's the sound of the PA system bouncing off the walls and ceiling that makes you feel like you're there," he says. "The delay from the PA is a big part of the surround experience. You can do that in stereo as well, but it tends to make the track muddy if you keep it as loud. In a surround mix, I can keep it quite a bit louder than I normally would."
Clearmountain says he did the stereo mix for the two-CD set and the surround mixes for the HBO special and the DVD at the same time. "The stereo and surround mixes are really the same. The only difference is how I handled the audience in the surround channels."