Compared to the gargantuan Live/1975-85, 2001's Live in New York City seems like the very definition of restraint, but consider this -- not only does it span two discs, it leaves out a considerable portion of the set list from the show and thereby the set list of Springsteen's celebrated 2000 reunion with the E Street Band. Some critics complained that this record was little more than a tie-in to the HBO special of the same name, but even if that's true, the record would have merit since it illustrates exactly why this group should never have parted ways. In a sense, even if this is the third live album in Springsteen's catalog, it's the first that attempts to replicate the feeling of an evening out with the E Street Band (the Live/1975-85 box tried too hard to be an ultimate experience; MTV Plugged captured a transitional phase). Though most reunions feel a little forced, this feels natural, yet never nostalgic, since the track listing never relies on the predictable. There are no hits in the conventional sense -- outside of "Born in the U.S.A." tucked away on the second disc and an initially uncredited "Born to Run" -- but there are many fan favorites interspersed with a few obscurities and new songs, most notoriously the protest song "American Skin (41 Shots)." This works in Springsteen's favor, since there's no pandering -- only the joy of making music with the band that understands him best. This doesn't really result in something essential, even if the new songs are quite good, but if you've ever been a fan, it's hard not to warm to Live in New York City.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2