Bruce Springsteen

In Concert/MTV Plugged [Video]

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In Concert/MTV Unplugged, Bruce Springsteen's second home video (following 1989's Video Anthology/1978-88), presents the television concert that was broadcast on MTV on November 11, 1992, with an additional two performances, "Living Proof" and "If I Should Fall Behind," not seen on TV. Springsteen begins alone with an acoustic guitar, singing the risqué, previously unheard "Red Headed Woman," and having warmed up the crowd dispenses with the "unplugged" nature of the show to introduce his band. (He does, however, return to an acoustic format periodically, performing the old favorites "Growin' Up" and "Thunder Road" with spare accompaniment.) This group, organized to back Springsteen on his Human Touch/Lucky Town tour, includes only keyboard player Roy Bittan (plus, on "Human Touch," Patti Scialfa) from the E Street Band, and it differs in instrumentation from that outfit by eliminating one of the keyboard players and the saxophonist, while adding no less than five backup singers. The vocalists, who come and go throughout the show, add a gospel tone to some of the material, and smooth-voiced tenor Bobby King in particular is a strong vocal foil on "Man's Job." While the musicians don't have the legacy with Springsteen that the E Street Band did, they prove to have some chemistry of their own with him. Eleven of the 18 songs are drawn from the disappointing Human Touch and Lucky Town albums, but the performances of such selections as "My Beautiful Reward" and "If I Should Fall Behind" help redeem those discs. Oldies like "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and "Glory Days" remain effective, meanwhile, and the climax of the show comes with "Light of Day," a song written for a 1987 film of the same name. The pacing and sequencing of the concert (presumably designed to accommodate commercial breaks that are no longer included) sometimes leave something to be desired, and it would have been better for the home video to have presented the complete show in actual performance order. As it is, this is not the great Springsteen concert fans have been waiting to see on video, even if it is often a very good one.