“Still, Live Aid and Farm Aid are fantastic things, but then musicians have always done things like that. When people want a benefit, you don’t see them calling dancers or architects or lawyers or even politicians – the power of music is that it has always drawn people together”
~Bob Dylan (to Mikal Gilmore – Sept 1985)
To kick-off this series of posts about the “True Confessions Tour”, I need to start the year before.. in 1985.
Dylan (together with Keith Richards & Ronnie Wood) did one of his worst live performances ever at the “Live Aid” concert @ the JFK stadium in Philadelphia on 13 July 1985. All three were drunk & they couldn’t hear themselves because the stage monitors had been switched off.
The Ballad of Hollis Brown – Live Aid 1985:
We were sabotaged, in some kind of way. There was no way we could really perform there. It’s difficult to play if you can’t hear.
~Bob Dylan (to Bob Brown – about the performance)
These three songs are all taken from one show, it was a triple bill held in the sold out 2,000-seat Ahmanson Theatre, with Bruce Springteen opening for Dr. Hook and The Medicine Show and headliner New Riders of the Purple Sage.
All three videos in great quality both sound and picture, enjoy!
This concert is often confused with the private CBS Sales Convention show (see July 27 for details). However the Ahmanson Theatre show was a normal, public admission event, but incorporating an unusual format. Organized and promoted by CBS as ‘A Week To Remember’, seven consecutive nightly shows, each show featuring three different CBS artists. Bruce and the band flew to L.A. on April 30, stayed at the Hilton hotel, performed on May 1 and returned east on May 3. The above-mentioned setlist represents Bruce’s complete 40 minute performance. The recording of “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” from this show was issued promotionally by CBS on July 7 as part of its Playback EP series. The remainder of the audio from this show is uncirculating, except for the brief snippets of “Spirit In The Night” and “Thundercrack” that accompany its corresponding video snippets.
All seven shows in the Ahmanson series were filmed in color by Arnold Levine Productions on behalf of CBS, whose intention was to have material to show to reps at the CBS Sales Convention in July. This happened, Bruce’s complete performance was shown several times at the Convention, but has never been shown anywhere since. It remains in CBS’s vault. Brief snippets of “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” and “Thundercrack” were used in mid-1974 as part of a promo-only video clip created by CBS to promote the second album. This clip readily circulates and, indeed, was shown in the VH-1 Rockumentary. The frustratingly brief film excerpt of Springsteen performing “Spirit In The Night” on piano that was shown in the 1998 Bruce Springsteen: A Secret History BBC Documentary is from this show. “Tokyo” was preceded by the Ducky Slattery monologue and at the conclusion of “Thundercrack” a giant Garden State Parkway sign descended from the ceiling, the only time this prop was ever utilized (see photo). “Twist And Shout” was the encore. Three songs from this appearance (“Spirit In The Night”, “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” and “Thundercrack”) were officially released as (elaborately restored) bonus footage on the Wings For Wheels documentary DVD in 2005. However, “Thundercrack” is incomplete and cuts at just over ten minutes. An hour of raw footage from this show is now among collectors, featuring multiple versions of the three promotional tracks, each shot from a different camera angle. On this video you can also hear a brief snippet of the introduction to “Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?”.