Article 1976-10-28 New York City, NY

Springsteen, Cocky and Tireless, Asserts Flamboyant Ebullience

The two‐hour show that Bruce Springsteen offered Thursday night at the Palladium—the first of six there—could not be called one of his best. it was still good enough to reassert his credentials as about the most exciting, satisfying performer in present‐day rock‐androil.

Mr. Springsteen has performed in the New York area since late last summer, when his Bottom Line engagement inaugurated the by now too‐well‐known publicity blitz that helped propel him to stardom. But these were his first dates in New York proper since then, and they indicated Mr. Springsteen is both growing and remaining true to his roots.

What Mr. Springsteen's roots are, beyond his fervent identification with Asbury Park and Jersey Shore mythology, is open to argument, and the reason is the very richness of them. He is at the same time a rocker and a wistful singersongwriter, a 60's rhythm‐andblues nostalgist, and a Broadway balladeer.

On Thursday, in addition, he was toying with some of the instrumental passages with an almost Pink Floydish sci‐fi‐rock sound, full of echoing, spacy guitar and keyboard textures. And without undercutting the punchy energy of his rock, the ornate lavishness of his arrangements was more striking than either — in addition to the ever‐present glockenspiel doubling the complex keyboard lines, there were four extra hornplayers on hand. One Springsteenian in the audience suggested that the next step would have to be a full orchestra, and maybe he had a point

But the image of an orchestra would be suspect. The best moments Thursday came when the newly beardless Mr. Springsteen was mustering the full flamboyance of his strutting‐punk act. Cocky and tireless, he projects about the greatest ebullience of any performer around these days, and makes an almost ideal visual complement of his own street poetry.

The problems at the opening show began with a technical snag, which involved a link between a diesel generator out on the street and Mr. Springsteen's sound systern and which delayed the show an hour. Once the proceedings got under way, Mr. Springsteen seemed tenser than usual, and it was not until “Thunder Road,” more than half an hour into the show, that he bit his stride.

Thereafter there were ups and downs. Although the ups were very fine, the show never really swept along to the climaxes that mark the very best Springsteen shows. Part of that could be attributed to little things. The complex, theatrical lighting Mr. Springsteen uses looked a little too tricky at times, and the sound mix seemed both murky and balanced against the crucial saxophone lines of Clarence Clemons.

Still, there teas an enormous amount to enjoy. The E Street band is still as superb as it always has been. Mr. Springsteen's assortment of oldies — which included The Animals’ “It's My Life,” Darlene Love's “Fine, Fine, Fine” and Eddie Floyd's “Raise Your Hand” — was as infectious as ever, and his three new songs “Rendezvous,” “Something in the Night” and “The Promise” — all suggested that Mr. Springsteen is in no danger of drying up as a songwriter, The songs he's already written are a guaranteed source of pleasure.

Perhaps we can chalk up some of the failings on Thursday to nerves. Or perhaps it is to Mr. Springsteen's credit that his performances are variable. There is an element of calculation and a surfeit of talent to guarantee a certain level of quality all the time. But he still leaves himself room for inspiration, and one trusts that subsequent shows in this current run will reach heights not attained on Thursday.

By John Rockwell via The New York Times.
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