- 13 Oct 19
Hot Press was in London yesterday for the launch of Western Stars, and couldn't have been any more blown away!
Bruce Springsteen was in ebullient form on Saturday - is he ever in anything else? - as he attended the London media launch of Western Stars, the cinematic take on the album of the same name, which he's co-directed with longtime collaborator Thom Zimny.
Looking far better than a man who recently turned seventy has any right to do, Bruce explained the origins of the project in the Q+A session with Edith Bowman, which followed the screening.
"It was an unusual piece of music; I knew I wasn't going to tour it and bring an orchestra, so I said, 'Maybe if I could perform it once and film it, that way people get a chance to see what it's like to play,'" he said. "Initially it just started out as a performance film. I was just gonna shoot the record from start to finish. And so that's what we did. We decided the barn was a great space to do it."
The barn in question is the century-old building that graces his and Patti's ranch in Colts Neck, New Jersey. Managing to squeeze a 30-piece orchestra and a full band on to its small stage, the live performance part of Western Stars is as epic as you would imagine it to be.
What makes it different to your average concert movie are the short films Bruce and Thom conjured up as introductions to its fourteen songs, which is one more than you'll find on the original album. Fearing that the ending might otherwise be too downbeat, Bruce came up with the last minute idea of covering 'Rhinestone Cowboy', the tune penned by fellow New Jerseyan Larry Weiss and turned into a stonewall American classic by Glen Campbell. It turns out to be a masterstroke worthy of the price of admission alone.
In Irish cinemas for one night only on Friday October 28, the one hour 22 minute movie is equal parts Bruce mythologising America's southwest and demythologizing himself.
While all of the themes are familiar - "My 19th album and I'm still writing about cars - or the people in them," he jokes on screen - he's probably never spoken with such warmth about his relationship with Patti Scialfa who's rightly credited as the special guest star.
As recently rediscovered footage of them honeymooning together in a log cabin plays, Bruce whispers the sweetest of nothings to the woman who's accompanied him on a massive part of his rock 'n' roll adventure.
"We've been together for a long time, 30 years, so that's a lot of experience around the one little microphone," he said yesterday in London. "So we bring all of that the minute we lean in. Oh my Lord, there's the whole 30 years of emotional life together between us. She's wonderful. If you dig deep down into the centre of the film, she's there."
Needless to say, Hot Press was in the front-row with our box of Boss popcorn for the screening, and will be bringing you a full report as part of the mega Bruce and Steve Van Zandt feature we have in our 1,000th Issue, out this Thursday with Bono, Edge, Sharon Horgan, President Michael D. Higgins, Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Donoghue, Brian Eno and Ardal O'Hanlon among the co-stars.
Western Stars is in Irish cinemas for one night only on Monday October 28. The soundtrack album is released on Friday October 25.