REVIEW: Western Stars

Given the size of venues and crowds you'd have to deal with to "see" the Boss live, Western Stars is as close as you could ever hope to get. It is your very own, extremely beautifully produced, "live" show.

And while it is quite a simple album run-through – Bruce, band and orchestra performing the songs from Western Stars, plus a kind of weird cover of Rhinestone Cowboy to close, in a century old barn – it as beautiful as you'd expect from the man whose career has been built on his "down home-ness". It is visually stunning and wonderfully recorded. None of which is a surprise.

What is, or was, a surprise for me at least was the realisation that Bruce is 70-years-old. He has aged extremely well and his voice sounds as good as it ever has.

Now, I am a little confused over what Western Stars actually is. It seems to be being presented as a film – the actual songs are being promoted as a soundtrack – and Springsteen's "directorial debut". That seems a bit grand. I mean, aul Bruce can produce whatever the heck he likes, but let's just call it what it is, a music video. OK, a performance film, maybe. Yes, I'm nitpicking but, while the live performances and interspersed with panning shots of epic landscapes, and/or Bruce driving through epic landscapes (he's just a good old country boy don't forget), while Bruce reminisces or introduces the next song, these are the weakest element of the whole thing.

I would have loved more from the discussions of the songs, but all we get are rather cursory summaries of, often, the opening lines of each track.

"I wrote this song about a run-down diner and waitress called Jean.." *song starts, Bruce steps to the microphone* "It was a run-down diner and waitresses name was Jean..." Not an actually example, but that's what it's like.

The most touching part of the entire film is Bruce talking about when and how he meet his wife. Not exploring Bruce's history, or delving deeper into his songwriting really felt like a missed opportunity. I definitely could've done without the cover of Rhinestone Cowboy in favour of more from the interview sections.

Then the entire thing is almost ruined but the oddest closing scene I may have ever seen.

The barn is now empty, Bruce and his wife are at the bar talking and drinking, while a man pretends to sweep the floor! For a really long time. No idea who this poor soul is, but I'm not sure he's ever swept anything before, or certainly didn't expect this scene to go for as long as it did. There is actually debris on the floor that could have been swept up but he awkward nudges the same small pile of dirt in the middle of the room, for a really long time. Why is he pretending to sweep the floor. OK, I'm guessing sweeping the floor isn't his job, but surely he could've just actually done it, just for the shot. It's weird.


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