News April 1, 2009
One more warm-up, this time on the West coast
Rehearsal shows: they're not just for Asbury Park anymore. Just 24 hours before officially launching his Working on a Dream tour, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band staged one last warm-up for lucky fans last night in Los Angeles.
After working the final kinks out of songs like "The Promised Land," "No Surrender," and "Badlands," the real shocker came in the encore, when Burt Bacharach joined in for the very fitting "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" Taking the stage to a we're-not-worthy bow from Bruce, Bacharach laughed, "But I can't sing!" Said Steve, "That's okay, neither can I!"
An even bigger surprise might have been the venue: the Staples Center. "I never felt like I gave this place a reasonable shot," Springsteen said a few songs in. "When we played here on the reunion tour, we played to a packed house, and we hardly got to appreciate it. Now, I'm playing for the pure pleasure of being in this building."
In a special arrangement with the Los Angeles Lakers, the floor remained configured for basketball, and Springsteen insisted that fans be seated only in the arena's "sky box" luxury suites -- or as one fan called them, "the pits." "All of us got ushered into these glass-encased boxes," said the fan. "We couldn't open the windows, but the chicken fingers were awesome!" Bruce and Steve played to the fans upstairs all night, pointing, waving, and asking, with increased seriousness, if anyone was alive out there.
Once again, the band seemed in top form -- particularly Nils Lofgren, back in action with two new hips, as he executed a perfect reverse three-and-a-half somersaults pike dive into a small pool of water, while simultaneously nailing the solo on "Because the Night."
At night's end, Springsteen hollered, "I'm going to Disneyland!" He added, "Seriously, you guys, tomorrow, I'm going to Disneyland."
Oddly enough, though hundreds of patrons were able to score tickets through Ticketmaster on the day of the show, hundreds more tickets remained for sale on the ticketing company's website even as the show was in progress. "I don't get it," said Ticketmaster spokesman Albert Lopez. "Luxury seating and all, this one didn't really sell. Springsteen usually has remarkable word-of-mouth, especially for rehearsal shows. No one seemed to know about this one."
Full set list to come.
- April 1, 2009
SPRINGSTEEN TO EXPAND THROUGH TOURING COMPANIES
It's common knowledge that Jay Weinberg was asked to join the E Street Band so that his dad could meet his obligations for The Tonight Show. Details are slowly emerging that this substitution is actually part of the Springsteen organization's larger strategic vision.
In a rare interview with the Harvard Business Review, Springsteen talked about his new 50-year plan: "With record sales shrinking and my personal cash flow limited due to a hit to EBITDA, we engaged McKinsey to help conduct a SWOT analysis and structure a mission for us in the 21st century. What we came up with at the strategic retreat was that this whole thing has become too much about me -- pictures of me on the album covers, interviews with me on TV shows. We need to focus on building the Springsteen brand."
"We believe our real long-term value is not me, but the Springsteen-branded experience. Our fans have shown us that they're not all that interested in new music anyway, so why not give the people what they want? Beatlemania never really took off because it wasn't connected to Paul or John. But if we show some 'next generation' connection to the band and I certify these tours, we think we've identified a real market opportunity."
Right now three touring companies are under consideration: the Wild Greetings Company, led by Evan Springsteen, will stick to small clubs on the east coast. "I'm drawing up the guidelines for the shows right now," says Springsteen. "For the Greetings shows, 'Kitty’s Back' will never run less than 20 minutes, and they'll play that early version of 'Thunder Road', 'Wings for Wheels.' It’s clearly not as good a song, but give the people what they want!"
Once audience acceptance of Jay is firmly established, he'll be tapped to lead a theater tour with the Darkness Company. "Each show will start off with a cover tune, and they'll play 'Sad Eyes' every night. That's a Springsteen Experience guarantee!"
Since the audience for the B.I.T.U.S.A. Company (DBA the B.U.S.A. Company) will be much less discerning, the "next generation” role will be filled by Ray Arthur, a kid Roy Bittan met at a frozen yogurt shop in L.A. "We're gonna fill stadiums every summer for the next 50 years with this show," says Bruce. "That's 30 shows a year with 'Bobby Jean' and a 20-minute 'Glory Days' story about my time in Little League!”
"Hey, look -- you practice your craft, you pray to the gods of creativity and aliveness to be ready for the moment to write some great songs... and then you productize the hell out of it."
- April 1, 2009
SPRINGSTEEN BUILDS HOUSE DOWN BY THE RIVER
The latest buzz in New Jersey real estate: Bruce Springsteen's Rumson property is rumored to go on the market within the month, as the Boss reveals that construction is finally complete on his house down by the river. "I've built me a house," he confirms, "And as I told the folks the other night, I want to learn to live in that house. As soon as the inspection's done."
Curious fans may have a long wait to actually get a glimpse of the new structure, as Bruce remains imprecise about its location. One insider reports that it's right on the River of Hope, but others in the know suggest it may also overlook the River of Faith, the River of Love, or the River of Life. Springsteen himself offers only one cryptic lead for those who would seek it out: "You can't get there by yourself."
He adds, "It's got four full bathrooms and a half-bath, plus a six-burner Wolf range. And all the kitchen cabinet knobs look like little guitars. It's pretty sweet."
- April 1, 2009
NEW ALBUM ALREADY IN THE WORKS
Running on empty? Hardly. Bruce promises all new adventures in hi-fi
The bad news: Tracks 2, which promised "You're Missing" (Arthur Baker's "Everything Mix") and "Held Up Without a Gun" (Strings Version), has been delayed indefinitely. But the good news is that -- as if two E Street albums in less than two years weren't enough -- another new album from Bruce and the band is already in the works. As he recently told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "I made a promise to myself to get more records out more quickly than I used to... and now that I've got my wheels under me, in some fashion, it feels like it's time to put the pedal to the metal."
Springsteen reveals that his next album, consisting of songs he wrote backstage at Convention Hall last week, will take shape in a series of live recordings this spring as the E Street Band hits the road. "I was always impressed with bands that recorded albums live, whether it was Joe Jackson, Jackson Browne, or R.E.M. That's the way we're going to do this next one." Though he hasn't determined the exact format, Springsteen says that most of his upcoming shows with the E Street Band will be devoted entirely to these new songs that audiences haven't heard, and the band doesn't know. "I expect we'll run through a song at least once or twice. I may have to stop to re-work a verse or two. My audience will understand," he said. "It's like that Marshall Crenshaw record: I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn! Great album, by the way."
Springsteen waxed equally unfazed by the arena setting for such a project. "Hey, the 'shut the fuck up' speech from the Joad tour seemed to work great," he said, "and if I have to send Clarence out to open a can of whoop-ass on anyone who's hootin' and hollerin' for 'Badlands,' I will." A no-talking, no-standing, no-nothing policy will be strictly enforced.
The possibility of playing some older material remains; Springsteen says he'll make that decision on a "night-by-night" basis. "If things go alright with the new, new songs, I might reward myself and the audience with a song or two, but the real reason for hitting the road is to present something entirely fresh to my audience," he said. "I'm really excited about the new, new songs." As for the album that came out in January, Springsteen said, "What am I, a jukebox? We played the Super Bowl, right? I think people get the idea."
No official release date yet, but the new album is planned to tide fans over between Working on a Dream and Working on a Dream - Second Edition.
- April 1, 2009
EVAN SPRINGSTEEN TO REPLACE BRUCE AT SELECTED EUROPEAN DATES
Bruce Springsteen has invited another E Street offspring to fill in this summer: his own son, Evan. The reason? Not a late night television gig, but Springsteen the elder enrolling in summer classes at Princeton University.
"It's just time," Bruce said. "As far back as the '70s, my mother used to say, 'You know, it's not too late, you can still go back to college.' And she's right."
The 59 year-old plans to take classes in music, American history, and natural sciences. "In some fashion, I really feel like my songwriting could benefit from doing this. Sure, I've made it up as I've gone along," Springsteen said, "but higher education and rock 'n' roll aren't mutually exclusive endeavors. I mean, what do you think I talk about with Jon Landau all the time? My career? Electric Nebraska? Come on." Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz, whose classes Springsteen has sat in on in the past, said that the Boss won't get any special treatment. "Maybe a parking space, but as far as I'm concerned, once in the classroom, he'll be like any other student. This isn't some Rodney Dangerfield movie."
Springsteen's mother Adele told Backstreets that she was "thrilled" with Bruce's decision. "I don't regret getting him that guitar, not at all," she said. "It's just that I think there might be more to life than making records with your friends. He's getting to a point in his life where he should have something to fall back on. I'm thrilled that he's branching out a bit -- just in case."
The college experience apparently rubbed off on the elder Springsteen. "My kid inspired me, so I decided to give up rockin' the European nations for higher education," he said. As the story goes, Bruce called to make the offer while that "kid" was in the car with his father. He said, "You may have heard I have a band. In that band I have the world's greatest frontman, who has a scheduling conflict." Said Evan, "Dad, I'm right here."
No word just yet on which dates Springsteen will sit in for Springsteen, and Weinberg for Weinberg.
Update: Now confirmed -- Wolfgang Van Halen will sub for Garry Tallent.
- April 1, 2009
TICKETMASTER-ONLY CD RAISES EYEBROWS
After Springsteen's recent benefit show for AIG execs, you might have thought that there couldn't be any more embarrassments in store... but the recent announcement of a "Ticketmaster exclusive" Springsteen CD has fans absolutely confounded. No one's complaining about getting to hear "Home Depot Delores" and the full 23-minute "Outlaw (Com)P(l)ete," but this most recent move is so out of character, even Bruce himself seems to be scratching his head.
"That one got past us," the Boss told the New York Times. "I'm glad the fans called us on it. I mean, it so got past us, I couldn't even tell you -- waitaminute, did we even approve this? Who the hell approved this thing?"
In the darkest depths of Mordor, the Eye of Ticketmaster watches all, and waits.
- April 1, 2009
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