At some point, not much more can be said about the show in St. Louis, Missouri on August 23, 2008. It was – both in my opinion, and the opinion of many others – the best show of the Magic tour. There is probably no other tour from Bruce’s entire performing history where there is such a strong consensus as to what the best show of the tour was. On other tours, there are some choices: for example, the best River show might have been the Nassau Coliseum New Year’s Eve show; or the Vietnam Veterans show; or the night in Philadelphia after John Lennon’s death. For the Magic tour, it was this night that stood apart from all others.
It is rightly considered perhaps the single best show the E Street Band played since reuniting, and I know others have gone further, calling it the best since the River tour itself.
I was newly excited, however, to hear that an improved matrix recording of the show was just made available on the torrent sites. Yes, it’s an unofficial release, but it’ll do quite nicely until Bruce officially releases a recording from this night (which, of course, is something that should be on his to-do list!)
The contents of the night’s soundcheck are known to those who were waiting in the general admission line and could hear the songs being performed, but the tape offers some new revelations, including another confirmation that Bruce does pay attention to those little details that one might think only his obsessive fans know.
The recording contains a fascinating confirmation that Bruce was acutely aware of his performance history of “Then She Kissed Me,” and that it had last been done 33 years prior, in August.
Bruce may not have been aware that it would be exactly 33 years to the date since the song’s last performance. He certainly was remembering, however, the band’s run of shows at the Bottom Line stand of August 1975: “Then She Kissed Me” was played at almost every one of the ten shows there. Alternate choice “When You Walk in the Room,” rehearsed in the soundcheck but which went unplayed (it was probably Bruce’s alternate choice for the opening song) underscores his memory of those shows.
Sure enough, before running through the song, Bruce, Nils and other members of the band can be heard discussing Bruce’s inclusion of covers in the band’s set, and Bruce remarking to Nils that “you might have heard it at a show you were at!” and Nils immediately confirming “I was, I was at that show!” Nils also recalls, quite correctly, that “…the first date of ours was was the night after your last stand there.”