Hammersmith Odeon, London '75
This is the stuff of legend. Born to Run had been released to unanimous acclaim. Bruce and band went to the U.K., where they were hyped as the band to see—and with the stakes so high, they didn’t back down. These are definitive performances. “Thunder Road” has never sounded more naked and vulnerable. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” is clutch, a tight, affirmative performance that swings and punches with authority. “Spirit in the Night” slinks and unfolds like the New Jersey shoreline. The mix from Bob Clearmountain points up the band's incomparable chemistry, unlocking the magic and spotlighting the instruments while never sacrificing the wall of sound. By 1975, Springsteen had a complex web of songs with the most inventive structures imaginable. From the ethereal organ haunting the ghosts of “Lost in the Flood” or the simple piano accompaniment driving “For You” to the wistful memories of “Backstreets” and the urban sprawl of “Jungleland,” Bruce and The E Street Band were never more operatic or intense.