Bruce Springsteen

The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts

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The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts Review

by Mark Deming

Bruce Springsteen's social and political activism is well known enough in 2021 that many forget he seemed largely apolitical in the early stages of his career. That began to change with 1978's Darkness on the Edge of Town, which didn't confront specific issues but delivered a powerful portrait of blue-collar malaise in a nation where the working class was being forgotten. His deep dive into singing for a cause came in 1979, when Musicians United for Safe Energy, a coalition of artists and music industry figures campaigning against nuclear power, persuaded Springsteen to take part in a series of concerts being held at New York's Madison Square Garden to raise funds and awareness for their work. In most respects, Springsteen was the odd man out at the MUSE shows (which were recorded and filmed for an album and documentary, both titled No Nukes), where, with the exception of Bruce and Tom Petty, the bill was dominated by soft rockers like Jackson Browne, James Taylor, and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Springsteen didn't do any anti-nuclear speechifying in his two sets at the MUSE shows, but he gave his performances a force, conviction, and passion that outstripped every other act on the bill and made him the highlight of No Nukes.

The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts, released in 2021, cuts and pastes Springsteen's two MUSE shows into a single performance, and it's an excellent document of a period where he reliably delivered one of the very best live shows on earth. Since they were playing on a bill with several other acts, Springsteen and the E-Street Band had to condense their usually three-hour concert into a tight 90 minutes; they were determined to pack their typical amount of sweat and excitement into their set, and judging from these recordings, they succeeded. The versions of "The River" (then unreleased -- the show took place during a break from the session for The River) and "The Promised Land" lend an appropriate gravitas to the event, but for the most part Springsteen and the band saw it was their duty to give the audience top value for money. From the opening blast of "Prove It All Night" to a final lead through Buddy Holly's "Rave On," they play like a ball of fire, and the fans are with them every step of the way. Given its relative brevity, The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts is a different animal than most of Springsteen's live releases, but that works in its favor -- it doesn't aim to reproduce the ebb and flow of his usual concert experience, instead aiming for an all-killer, no-filler experience, and it leaves no doubt why the audience got so caught up in this music.

Track Listing - Disc 3

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:58 Amazon
2 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:45 Amazon
3 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:21 Amazon
4 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:05 Amazon
5 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:11 Amazon
6 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:26 Amazon
7 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 10:10 Amazon
8 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 12:07 Amazon
9 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 04:59 Amazon
10 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 04:28 Amazon
11 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 09:41 Amazon
12 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 09:56 Amazon
13 Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 02:59 Amazon
14
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:58 Amazon
15
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:45 Amazon
16
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:21 Amazon
17
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:05 Amazon
18
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 06:11 Amazon
19
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 05:26 Amazon
20
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 10:10 Amazon
21
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 12:07 Amazon
22
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 04:59 Amazon
23
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 04:28 Amazon
24
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 09:41 Amazon
25
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 09:56 Amazon
26
Bruce Springsteen feat: Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band 02:59 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick