US musician Bruce Springsteen performs with The E Street Band at the AccorHotels Arena in Paris.
A little over 30 years ago, Bruce Springsteen mesmerised audiences with his electrifying, high-octane performance at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi. Celebrities and commoners alike went wild as the handsome, macho rock star rocked the crowds with his humdingers such as Dancing in the Dark, Born in the USA and I'm on Fire. The Boss is in his seventies now but still holds an ineluctable appeal for his fans, not just in India but all over the world.
Though Bruce Springsteen's songs are a vibrant part of the contemporary American songbook, he regularly uses his lyrics to express his deep misgivings about the proverbial "American dream."
With "Western Stars," New Jersey's favourite son is once again looking at a question he's grappled with for decades: the struggle between transient freedom and communal life.
The meditative concert film features sweeping pans over California's wide expanses think wild horses, a muscle car on the open road and cacti bathed in a rose sunrise -- interspersed with Springsteen's family home movie footage.
It is effectively the 70-year-old icon's replacement for a tour to promote his latest solo effort.
Springsteen plays his full "Western Stars" 13-track album in the film. It hearkens back to the 1970s-era golden age of the Laurel Canyon music scene with backing from band members including his wife Patti Scialfa and a 30-piece orchestra.
The recorded live performance, filmed in a barn on Springsteen's property in New Jersey, features sweeping crescendos of strings that project a luxurious warmth, the aural equivalent of slipping into a hot tub in the middle of the desert at dusk.
But the music's hazy glow contrasts with the edge of the artist's piercing inner reflections, as Springsteen considers the demons he's repressed and the aches he's caused after nearly half a century in show business.
"It's easy to lose yourself or never find yourself," his voiceover says in the film.
"The older you get, the heavier the baggage becomes that you haven't sorted."
'Living in good faith'
Though his fame is rooted firmly in his skills as a musician, Springsteen as auteur is not necessarily a stretch: the performer has long imbued his lyrics with a cinematic quality.
The brawny superstar burst onto the international stage in 1975 with "Born to Run," taking his audiences into bleak small American towns that contained youthful desires for adventure.
"Western Stars," his 19th album, marks a sharp turn from his signature hard-driving rock that recounted the mundanities of everyday life and blue-collar struggles, making him a working class hero.
Springsteen considers "Western Stars" -- which he co-directed with Thom Zimny – the third instalment in a trilogy that began with his acclaimed 2016 memoir and his wildly successful intimate show on Broadway.
The rock star has been open about his battles with depression and self-loathing, saying publicly he's been in therapy for decades and continues to aspire towards, as he puts it in the film, "living in good faith."
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