Charming fan-shot doc about what it means to be obssessed with The Boss – with help from Ridley Scott
There are music fans, and there are Bruce Springsteen fans. Springsteen fans aren’t just partial to a bit of The Boss in their headphones on the commute to the office, or simply fond of slipping ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Dancing In The Dark’ into a weekend party playlist. Springsteen fans, proper patchwork-heart-on-denim-sleeve Springsteen fans, are total and utter obsessives. If they possessed the same kind of all-encompassing enthusiasm for the tabloid trials of Lindsay Lohan or the cinematic output of James Franco, they would be banished from normal society. However, these people walk among us, spending large parts of the day wondering if it’s alright to call their first-born Rosalita.
Such diehard fans of New Jersey’s favourite 63-year-old son have always known that they aren’t alone. To them, Bruce Springsteen shows involve a particular kind of intense bonding experience unlike that of any other gig. Fans freely banter with total strangers about those lyrics in ‘The River’ that made them cry, compare detailed notes on how many concerts they’ve seen and let everyone know how a certain track saved their life – something which can’t quite be said for your average Kasabian performance.
‘Springsteen & I’, an entirely fan-shot, artfully cut-and-pasted documentary, executive-produced by Hollywood titan Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise), takes this experience and personalises it. A charmer of a film, it puts friendly faces on that stomach-flipping feeling you get when Springsteen straps on a guitar and stares out into a crowd of thousands, but makes it feel like he’s putting on the most intimate of shows. From the nervous – and possibly tipsy – mum proudly showing off her kid’s post-gig snapshot of the man himself, to the young woman giddily recounting the story of how she danced onstage, to the Elvis impersonator who got to sing with Springsteen, to the tough guy who starts weeping when explaining how much the music means to him – each story takes a short but vital experience and illuminates it. The film shows how the reverberations of an incident that only lasts a few seconds can be felt for a lifetime, just like in one of Springsteen’s own songs.
Concert footage from throughout Springsteen’s 40-year-career breaks up the hardcore hero worship. Though the quality of many of the live clips is lacking – many are grainy or pixellated – the sheer power of the performance shines through. Whether he’s doing his best Bob Dylan with a stirring acoustic take on debut album highlight ‘Growin’ Up’, or giggling about the joys of cunnilingus before the randy twang of ‘Red Headed Woman’, Springsteen’s magnetic pull is unquestionable.