I Don't Wanna Fade Away It was Sony's offer to let the Springsteen camp use a full complement of state-of-the-art 1080i-format high-definition cameras to record the Garden concerts that prompted Travis, Landau, and Springsteen to go ahead with the HBO special, which was broadcast in high-def. Even though a DVD can't convey the full resolution of these images, the video allowed the Sony engineers to create an exceptionally crisp and clean DVD transfer.
"When you watch a Springsteen concert, you want to see every pore in his face, you want to see his neck muscles stretching as he reaches for a high note or goes way down into his gut for a low note," says Ravitz. "Doing this in high-def was a challenge for me, because it's practically X-ray vision, but we made adjustments, and everyone came off looking great."
While Springsteen liked the look of the high-def video, the images struck him as a little clinical. So he had the footage manipulated to seem warmer and more filmlike. "Some people find the high-def image too cold," says Zimny, "and we didn't want anything to detract from the performance."
Once recording engineer Scott heard they'd be using high-def video, he wanted to go with the best possible audio, too. "For the Garden concerts, we used higher-resolution audio recorders than we'd used during the rest of the tour," he notes. "We had been recording using standard 16-bit/ 44.1-kHz gear, but Sony's new 48-track digital recorder delivered 24-bit resolution. That additional bit-depth gave us clearer and more natural sound."
The combination of high-def images and 5.1-channel surround sound helps to bring you closer to the experience of a Springsteen concert than would have been possible with older technology. People who have never attended one of these shows can now get a sense of what it's like to be in the middle of the crowd. "When you put in these discs, I can guarantee you won't want to watch them alone," says Travis. "This is not a solitary experience. You'll be calling your friends and having them come over to watch because it's something to be shared - just like the concert."
"The DVD delivers what it should," Ludwig echoes. "The only thing it can't do is give you that feeling that inevitably comes at the end of one of Bruce's three- or four-hour shows - where you say to yourself, 'Oh, my God, am I going home tonight?'''
Exactly. The minute the concert ended, that emotional high started slipping away - and I was desperate to hold onto something. That's probably why I didn't head for home right away but instead hung around until the last train left for Jersey at 2:37 a.m. I wandered around the arena, watching as the workers started to strike the stage. It was quiet now. I kept an eye on the time so I wouldn't miss the train, but it was hard to leave. Jeez - I wasn't even tired. By now, almost all the audience had left, and even some of the band members had gotten into cars and disappeared into the night. I just wanted to savor the moment awhile longer. When I finally did catch the train, it was filled with people from the show, and for the next hour, all anyone wanted to do was talk about was their favorite numbers and share Bruce memories.
No, this DVD can't replace everything that's unique about the concert experience - no more than Springsteen's songs can fully bring back the places and experiences they evoke. But just as the songs help keep those memories alive, this DVD allows everyone to share in the experience of Bruce and the band's New York stand. So, will they ever go back into the studio or tour again? It's too soon to know, but in the meantime, you'll find no better summation of Springsteen's career, and no more powerful record of this band performing live, than on these two discs.
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