While I can't say that I've ever been that much of a Bruce Springsteen fan, I must admire the singer's ability to create timeless rock and roll tunes that are catchy, lively and well-written. Another essential element of Springsteen's impressive talents is certainly his ability as a live performer. I've sat through numerous concerts to review for DVD and I've sat through a great number of live shows, but rarely have I seen a singer sing with such fire and soul as Springsteen, who proves he still has an incredible amount of energy in this impressive set that was captured at Madison Square Garden and then eventually broadcast on HBO - the network even received six Emmy nominations for the program. Richly deserved, as well - this concert documentary is beautifully directed and captures both Springsteen and the E-Street band at the top of their game and an audience that seems to be loving every minute of this joyous celebration of rock & roll soul.
DVD viewers get the best goodies, though - while the actual broadcast included 14 songs, the DVD includes an entire additional disc with 11 more live tunes that boast the same excellent audio/video quality.
Songs: My Love Will Not Let You Down, Prove It All Night, Two Hearts, Atlantic City, Mansion on the Hill, The River, Youngstown, Murder Incorporated, Badlands, Out in the Street, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Born to Run, Land of Hope and Dreams, American Skin (41 Shots), Backstreets, Don't Look Back, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Lost in the Flood, Born in the U.S.A., Jungleland, Light of Day, The Promise, Thunder Road, Ramrod, If I Should Fall Behind. My Love Will Not Let You Down, Prove It All Night, Two Hearts, Atlantic City, Mansion on the Hill, The River, Youngstown, Murder Incorporated, Badlands, Out in the Street, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Born to Run, Land of Hope and Dreams, American Skin (41 Shots), Backstreets, Don't Look Back, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Lost in the Flood, Born in the U.S.A., Jungleland, Light of Day, The Promise, Thunder Road, Ramrod, If I Should Fall Behind.
VIDEO: "Springsteen: Live in NYC" is presented by Columbia Music Video in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I've reviewed tons of concert presentations on DVD and, although many of them present a crisp, clear and enjoyable image, there are always those that either look like they were filmed with a video camera or those that appear too dark with smeary colors. I'm amazed and pleased to say that I don't think I've seen the visual aspect of a concert presentation on DVD look as close to flawless as this one does. Sharpness and detail here were simply stellar - a few tiny shots here and there were slightly softer, but all the on-stage moments were captured with a smooth, crisp look that was impressive.
Although I'd usually discuss flaws here, I really don't have anything to discuss in regards to this presentation. I spotted a minimal instance or two of shimmer, but that's it. There were no instances of edge enhancement, pixelation or smeared colors. In fact, the colors from the stage lighting appeared well-rendered and superb looking. Quite an exceptional effort.
SOUND: "Springsteen: Live in New York City" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on this release. While I wouldn't say that this release contains the most impressive 5.1 concert presentation I've heard, it certainly was one of the best that I've had the pleasure to experience recently. Surrounds are not particularly agressive here, nor did they need to be, given the material; they simply do a nice job of providing ambience and "opening up" the experience of watching this concert. Surrounds kicked in throughout with some crowd noise and mild reinforcement of the music, but they remained rather subdued throughout the show; the fronts keep the focus, while the rear speakers added to the envelopment and overall experience in an appropriate fashion.
Audio quality was quite good throughout the concert. Springsteen's vocals came through with exceptional clarity and warmth, sounding quite natural. Instruments also came through clearly, sounding distinct and not overpowered by other elements of the audio.
MENUS:: Fairly basic menus, but easily navigated and nicely laid out.
EXTRAS:: A 19-minute interview, "New York City Serenade", where Bob Costas interviews Springsteen and the members of the band. A photo gallery is also included. Both of these features are located on the first of the two DVDs.
Final Thoughts: I found it impossible to not get caught up in Springsteen's incredible, high-energy performance on this show. He's simply a marvelous musician and a terrific singer whose effort on this program is amazing and highly entertaining, accompanied by his exceptional backing band. The DVD is a true must-have for fans of the singer or anyone who simply enjoys a marvelously performed and highly enjoyable rock and roll show.