Bruce Springsteen made an appearance ahead of an exclusive screening of the film “The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts” at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey on Friday night (Nov. 12).
Springsteen was joined on stage by director Thom Zimny and Sirius XM E Street Radio host Jim Rotolo and gave a few brief remarks about the film, which captures the E Street Band performing over the span of two nights. The September 1979 No Nukes benefit concerts were held at Madison Square Garden and raised money for the Musicians United for Safe Energy organization. Jackson Browne, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, the Doobie Brothers and Carly Simon were also on the bill.
Asked by Rotolo if there was anything from those nights he remembered, Springsteen cracked: “I turned 30 during the show so that was memorable.”
That moment is captured in the documentary when Springsteen remarks on the end of his twenties. “I’m officially over the fuckin’ hill … can’t trust myself anymore.”
The rocker added: “The shows were kind of a big deal because we had never played on a bill with a lot of our peers so that was exciting. It was a rare show we would play on a break, once we were recording and in the studio we rarely took gigs.”
Springsteen and the band had been working on tracks for what became the double album “The River,” and he acknowledged the band exploded with energy that night “partly because we were showing off for the folks at home. … We were young, we were kids, so what the film is packed with is youthful energy at a level that was surprising even for me when I saw it.”
He described the band as “on edge” and “excited to play in front of that audience,” adding, “I think what is lovely about the film that Thom sent me is you get to see Clarence [Clemons] at his absolute peak and Danny [Federici], so it’s nice to have that on film. Being filmed at the time, it’s totally spontaneous and I never gave much thought about it and obviously we didn’t give much thought about it for 40 years. I have to salute Thom for digging it up and putting it all together.”
The responsibility of culling through the material fell onto Zimny, who said: “As a fan it was amazing. The first time I glanced at it, it was silent. I was looking at silent footage and I knew that these guys were on fire. I knew right away that this was special. It’s a great document of Clarence and the band in this chapter.”
Indeed, Clemons was in rare form as he’s seen trading riffs with Springsteen on “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight).”
Springsteen and Zimny stayed for the film, which was screened by an audience of SiriusXM staffers, VIPs and ticket winners as part of the SiriusXM Pandora Presents series.
The film includes performances of the band doing “Prove it All Night,” “Badlands,” “The Promised Land” (dedicated to Browne, John Hall, Bonnie Raitt, a little boy “down there” and the “musicians who put this together”), plus the moment Springsteen threw a birthday cake at a fan in the crowd and said, “don’t remind me… send me the laundry bill.” The film also documents the debut performance of “The River.” The band also tore through another song that would end up on that album, “Sherry Darling.” Fans will also get to see Springsteen and Browne with Tom Petty and Rosemary Butler performing a cover of Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs “Stay” as well. Thunder Road,” “Jungleland,” “Born to Run,” the “Detroit Medley” and Buddy Holly’s “Rave On” on night one, as well as Gary U.S. Bonds’ “Quarter to Three” night two.
“The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts” was edited by Zimny and features remixed audio by Bob Clearmountain. The film will be available for digital download on Nov. 16 and digital rental on Nov. 23, with physical formats, including DVD, CD, Blu-ray and vinyl, available on Nov. 19.
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