Bruce Springsteen was a surprise guest at the Asbury Park Music and Film Festival for a viewing of his documentary of clips culled from the Bruce Springsteen Archives Saturday at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park.
The presentation featured rare performances of Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Bottom Line, Hammersmith Odeon, Apollo Theater, Jazzfest (with the Seeger Sessions Band) and others. Directed by Thom Zimny with footage shot by Barry Rebo, the film offered fans a look at different periods of the band starting with the band performing a cover of “When You Walk in the Room” by the Searchers.
“I’ve lived many lives,” Springsteen said on stage during a Q&A with Zimny moderated by Chris Phillips of Backstreets Magazine. “I never saw any of that myself.”
Springsteen added that the band was “superstitious about being filmed in the early days” — a reason they never did television appearances.
“You either think you are more handsome than you actually are, or you think you sound better than you actually do,” he said.
But after watching what was preserved — particularly David Sancious at the keyboards for “New York City Serenade” in 1973 and Clarence Clemons’ last-ever performance In Buffalo — he said he is thankful a camera captured it all.
Springsteen fondly recalled the 1975 Bottom Line shows as the time the band was first considered “a contender” and reminisced about writing “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” as a goodbye song as he knew his life was about to change. (In a moment of candor, Springsteen admitted that he was falling asleep watching himself sing a subdued version of “4th of July.”)
In particular, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was pleased with the impact of a performance of “My City of Ruins” at Jazzfest in 2006. He hinted that he would love to see a full video of that show be released.
Also chronicled: a 1996 acoustic version circa 1996 of “The Promised Land” in Freehold and wife Patti Scialfa singing “Tell Him” at the Stone Pony in 1984. Springsteen recounted this performance — which also features former Bon Jovi touring guitarist Bobby Bandiera — nightly during his Broadway show, “Springsteen on Broadway.”
He remarked on a clip of Jake Clemons’ first-ever appearance at the Apollo, with Springsteen later climbing the walls and then shimmying down a pipe to get back to the stage. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” he laughed.
He also said he a resurgence of the Seeger Sessions Band may be in order.
Before heading back out to the boardwalk, Springsteen shared the most important part of good filmmaking: “Do I look good?”
Springsteen will make another appearance in the film, “Asbury Park: Riot and Redemption Rock and Roll.” It includes a performance filmed at the Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park with fellow E Street Band member Steve Van Zandt and an interview filmed at the since-shuttered club the Upstage.