The Boss is still The Best
No other artist puts as much passion and dedication into his music and live performances as Bruce Springsteen. That might be why The Boss has arguably the most passionate and dedicated fans out there. This fandom is the subject of the Ridley Scott-produced documentary ‘Springsteen & I’. The famous director asked fans to send in short videos of themselves where they explain what Bruce means to them and what impact he has had on their lives. This documentary is basically a compilation of the funniest, craziest, most touching and most emotional entries.
Among the highlights are a groundskeeper from a Scandinavian stadium where Springsteen has performed, an American guy that gets so emotional about Bruce’s music that he breaks down in tears just thinking about it, a busker who had a crazy encounter with Springsteen, and an Elvis impersonator that has a hysterically funny anecdote about the time when The King met the Boss.
Amid all the adoration for this living legend, we also get to see some hilarious interviews with a British couple; she is crazy about the Boss, while he is not. Yet this supportive partner has accompanied his wife to many of Bruce’s marathon-concerts all over Europe. With dry humour in the style of Karl Pilkington from ‘An Idiot Abroad’ this grumpy Brit shares his view on their trips to concerts all over Europe (“We’ve seen some great cities… But there is always that concert in the middle”) and on the length of Bruce’s three and a half hour concerts (“How am I going to make this picnic last?”)
When the documentary credits finish, the fun is just beginning for the fans. First there is an eleven minute epilogue to the actual movie where we get to see how some of the dedicated fans from the film finally get to meet their hero backstage after a concert in Copenhagen. This might just be the best part of the whole film.
This is followed by a good half hour of footage from Bruce and his E-Street Band’s July 2012 headlining performance at Hard Rock Calling in London’s Hyde Park (a concert that infamously ended with the police pulling the plugs because Bruce went over the curfew by half an hour, but you won’t see that in the footage). An extra treat for the fans are the last two songs, where Springsteen is joined onstage by none other than Sir Paul McCartney. It is rather unique to see arguably the two most legendary living musicians performing alongside each other with an almost schoolboy-like enthusiasm.
After a short run in cinemas the DVD version of the documentary is now released. The extras on the DVD feature another four contributions that were too long to fit into the actual movie.
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All the anecdotes are fun for the fans, but quite often these stories about Bruce’s heroic acts bring to mind the “Legends of Springsteen” skits from the short-lived Ben Stiller Show, where the American comedian impersonated The Boss performing all kinds of miracles during his live shows. A compilation of some of these Legends of Springsteen among the DVD extras would have been the perfect way to complement this great documentary about Springsteen-fandom.
Although ‘Springsteen & I’ is very entertaining for the fans, it is basically just preaching to the choir and it does not offer any new insights on the man that is considered by fans and critics worldwide as the best live artist on the planet. Since Springsteen is still as energetic and urgent in his mid-sixties as he was in his late twenties, and still manages to attract younger audiences and influence new bands as diverse as The Killers and Arcade Fire, this performer makes for a great subject for a documentary. ‘Springsteen & I‘ is not that documentary, since it is not about the Boss himself but purely about the relationship with his fans.