Bruce Springsteen

Bercy Night

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Bruce Springsteen became a favorite target of bootleggers in the mid-'70s, and when the 1990s were coming to an end, he was still one of rock's most bootlegged artists. Bootleggers know their audience; they know how obsessive the Boss' die-hard fans can be, and they cater to the sort of people who really do feel the need to have 50 or more live performances of "Darkness on the Edge of Town" or "Born to Run" in their collections. Thankfully, 1990s bootleggers generally had much higher standards than the bootleggers of the 1970s; many of Springsteen's 1990s bootlegs would impress an audiophile, and most of the ones that fell short of audiophile standards at least sounded decent. Bercy Night, for example, offers sound quality that is quite good but not perfect. This two-CD bootleg documents a June 3, 1999, show at Palais Onmnisports Bercy in Paris, where the bootlegger probably used some type of portable digital mini-recorder -- high-quality equipment, no doubt, but not the same as taping from a soundboard. The Boss is on stage for about two hours and 35 minutes; such a long show could grow tiresome from a lesser artist, but Springsteen has written so many fine songs that he has no problem maintaining the listener's attention during a set that consists of 1990s material as well as a lot of favorites from the 1970s ("Born to Run," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Cadillac Ranch," "Thunder Road") and 1980s ("Hungry Heart," "Darlington Country," "Working on the Highway"). New Jersey's most famous singer, who was 49 when this bootleg was recorded, still brings a lot of energy and conviction to songs he unveiled in his twenties and thirties. Bercy Night doesn't include all of Springsteen's big hits -- he doesn't perform "Born in the USA" or "I'm on Fire," just to give a few examples. But even though Bercy Night isn't ideal or definitive, it is a generally pleasing bootleg that hardcore Boss collectors will enjoy.

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