Bruce Springsteen howls through an impassioned performance of “The River” in a rare live clip from a 1980 concert in Tempe, Arizona that will appear on the upcoming box set, The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.
The clip opens on a wide shot of the stage shrouded in black before slowly zooming in on Springsteen as his harmonica cuts through an aching assortment of piano and organ. The camera holds tight on Springsteen’s face, which stays hauntingly stoic as he recounts the tortured tale of two teenage lovers, inspired by his own sister and brother-in-law.
There’s little of Springsteen’s wild rock and roll zeal in this performance, and as the frustration of his characters grows, so does his own. He holds a thousand mile stare over the crowd, clenches his fist and bellows into the microphone, until the song and he slowly recede into the darkness.
The Ties That Bind: The River Collection is scheduled to arrive on December 4th and comprises four CDs and three DVDs. It features the original single disc LP of The River Springsteen intended to release in 1979 as The Ties That Bind, as well as 11 previously unreleased outtakes, 10 tracks from that era released on previous archival packages, a new documentary and the Tempe concert film.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Springsteen’s video archivist Thom Zimny noted the Tempe concert film does not feature the entire show, but was still the best-sounding and highest-quality concert from Springsteen’s 1980 trek.
“There’s so many moments in the Tempe concert where you finally get to see things that maybe you heard on a bootleg source or on E Street Radio,” Zimny said. “Also, the songs were new at the time — the band had such raw energy. Even though it’s not a complete show, it still gives the dramatic arc of the show.”