FROM THE CHURCHES TO THE JAILS TO THE LIBRARY
It was a dark and stormy day. (Forgive me, dear readers, but given the weather and the literary focus of Bruce Springsteen's Philadelphia meet-and-greet, how could we begin this report any other way?) Nevertheless, despite yesterday’s inclement conditions, more than 1,200 loyal fans still lined up for their Special Springsteen Selfie Moments at the Free Library of Philadelphia's Parkway Central location.
This stop on the Born to Run book tour was Springsteen's first and only one at a public library, but there were never any stern admonitions from staff members to keep the noise level down. In fact, the library's main lobby, which served as a waystation for fans waiting to meet Bruce, was filled with the music of Pandora's Bruce Springsteen station.
On a personal note, covering yesterday's event for Backstreets was an especially pleasant endeavor for two reasons. The first is that many moons ago I used to work for the Free Library of Philadelphia, in this very buliding. Of course, I got a kick out of seeing the man himself greet so many Philly-area fans right near the same doors I often used to enter and exit when working in the reference stacks.
The other and much more important reason is that when I first learned that thousands of fans would be at these events, and then I did the math, I grew concerned that fans could walk away feeling unsatisfied after such a brief interaction. Watching it all in action yesterday here in Philly, however, was yet another beautiful experience of witnessing Bruce Springsteen connect with every single person, as he always attempts to do in concert. (Click here for one of the best individual stories from the Philly event.) Nobody I saw walked away from the encounter with anything other than huge smiles or tears of joy. What a beautiful gift he's giving to so many of his fans with these rare and unique appearances. Kudos to everyone involved in organizing them.
- September 30, 2016 - report and photos by Shawn Poole
THROWBACK THURSDAY: ACROSS THE STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA
At today's Born to Run meet-and-greet with Bruce Springsteen, more than 1,200 fans filled the sidewalk surrounding the Free Library of Philadelphia's main branch. The above left photo was taken today at the intersection of 19th and Vine Streets, just across the street from John W. Hallahan High School, where nearly a quarter-century ago, back in 1993, Hallahan students leaving school for the day were filmed for Bruce's "Streets of Philadelphia" music video (above right). More from today's Philly event to come. - September 29, 2016 - Shawn Poole reporting
FIGHTING FOR #1 WITH BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
What happens when you release your brand new album the same day as one of your musical heroes? If you're Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) you write a song about it. Passenger's young as the morning old as the sea and Bruce's Chapter and Verse have been running neck and neck at the top of the Singer/Songwriter chart in the US, UK, and Australia. And his love for Bruce is real. Passenger did a great version of "Dancing in the Dark" for Songs of Springsteen: A Covers Collection From 105.7 The Hawk's Bruce Brunch and has recorded three different covers for SiriusXM's The Coffee House channel: "I'm on Fire," "Dancing in the Dark" and "The River." - September 29, 2016 - Tom Cunningham reporting
APPLE INTERVIEW STILL WATCHABLE ONLINE
Last night's discussion between Bruce Springsteen and Apple SVP Eddy Cue was streamed live on Facebook; if you missed it, the 45-minute chat can still be viewed here. In front of a small audience at the Apple Store in SoHo, the Born to Run autobiography was a springboard for Springsteen and Cue to discuss various aspects of Bruce's career — as well as his love of cheeseburgers (shout-out to the Windmill!) and the newer artists that have caught his attention (Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West). Cue's final question regarded the new album we've been hearing is in the can. Bruce: "I don't want to talk too much about it. It's been done for a while. It's pretty good — I hope it's good. It's kind of a solo record. Maybe we'll get it out sometime this year, if we're lucky."
The Apple Store appearance followed another Barnes and Noble meet-and-greet earlier in the day, just a little ways uptown in Union Square. Today, the book tour stops at the Free Library of Philadelphia. - September 29, 2016
WATCH TONIGHT'S NYC APPLE STORE EVENT ON FACEBOOK LIVE
With Bruce Springsteen's book tour underway, most of us fans — not in Freehold yesterday, or Union Square today — have only been able to experience these glory days vicariously. But tonight, anyone with access to Facebook will be able to catch Springsteen's speaking event, the third stop on the tour. Tune in at 7pm ET as the hosted discussion with Springsteen at the Apple Store SoHo will stream live at facebook.com/brucespringsteen. Event information is here. - September 28, 2016
SPRUNG FOR PAGES ON HIGHWAY 9
Fall on the Jersey Shore is a time when the weather gets cooler, the summer crowds go home, and the beaches are empty. The humidity returned today, as did the crowds — but they weren't flocking to the beach. The destination was a bookstore in Freehold, as 2,000 fans descended upon Bruce Springsteen's hometown for an opportunity to meet their hero. Springsteen's autobiography, Born to Run, was released today by Simon & Schuster, and his meet-and-greet book tour kicked off at the Barnes & Noble on Highway 9.
Fans began lining up as early as Sunday night (although the store discouraged it), but everyone with a ticket had their chance to meet the author and get a signed copy of Born to Run. The event was scheduled to begin at noon; when I arrived a little beforehand, I walked past fans who had already had their moment with Bruce. Dressed all in black, he had actually arrived 90 minutes before the scheduled start time, meeting fans and posing for pictures until late in the afternoon.
- Matt Wolf photo
Smiling from ear to ear, ecstatic fans unanimously described the event as an amazing experience. Blase Berner drove up from Virginia, finding the trip well worth it: "It was a great day, with great friends and the man we all love." Ali Scales from New York called the experience "spectacular, joyous and humbling."
Stephanie Interrante from Barnes & Noble said that they were very honored and happy to host Bruce in his hometown; the store did a tremendous job organizing the large crowd. The entry process resembled the pit lottery familiar from concert tours. Fans initially lined up to get a wristband, which enabled them to buy a pre-signed copy of the book. The wristband also allowed fans to line up again, this time for the meet-and-greet with Bruce. Unlike the concert pit lottery, everyone with a wristband had a winning draw.
E Street Radio set up shop right outside the front door and played Bruce's music for the waiting crowd. SiriusXM's Dave Marsh, Jim Rotolo, Vinny Usuriello and Caroline Magyarits all greeted fans as they entered and exited the bookstore. As Rotolo said, "The fans were great, Barnes & Noble did a great job, and a smiling Bruce was really enjoying himself."
Other DJs were on hand, too: Rich Russo (Anything, Anything; The Jersey Guy Does Jersey) called the day an overall great experience and very well run; Tom Cunningham (The Bruce Brunch) said that Bruce appeared to be very proud of the book, adding how cool it was that he chose Freehold for the first book tour stop. Illustrator Frank Caruso (Outlaw Pete), Bob Benjamin, and guitar tech Kevin Buell [above left] were also among the many local Jersey Shore celebrities in attendance.
As fans filed out of Barnes & Noble, a large group of E Street Nation's finest descended upon Federici's in downtown Freehold for an afterparty, swapping stories and relishing the joy of getting to meet the man himself. Social media has been ablaze with pictures and stories from a group of very happy fans.
The fan who may have had the best day was three-year-old Jackson Puza [right] from Manchester, Connecticut. Jackson met Bruce, who also signed his copy of Outlaw Pete. At Federici's, Jackson then met Frank Caruso, who added his signature to the book for the toddler.
Fall may be here, but today felt like a summer party on the Jersey Shore.
The party continues tomorrow in New York City, where the Barnes & Noble in Union Square will be hosting a similar event with Springsteen, followed by an evening discussion at the Apple Store Soho. - September 27, 2016 - Kevin Farrell reporting - photographs by Kevin Farrell (L) and Melanie Paggioli (R)
START! Born to Run is officially released tomorrow, as Bruce Springsteen begins his book tour in Freehold. Here at Backstreet Records we're all loaded up and practically walled in by boxes. We've got all hands on deck, packing and shipping as fast as we can this week (along with those bonus promo posters), and we appreciate your patience as we get these all these books and book bundles out the door and on their way. Thanks as ever for supporting Backstreets. Please pray for our mail carrier's back. - September 26, 2016
JACKSON BROWNE TAKES THAT RIDE
For last night's Concert Across America to end gun violence, Jackson Browne brought Springsteen along in spirit with a cover of "American Skin (41 Shots)" at New York's Beacon Theatre, backed by Vy Higginsen's Gospel Choir of Harlem.
The nationwide effort has "the dual goals of keeping guns out of dangerous hands and making the issue of gun violence prevention top of mind for members of Congress, the presidential candidates, and the American people as they go to the polls in November 2016." For more, visit concertacrossamerica.org, and you can sign the petition supporting gun violence prevention here. - September 26, 2016
SPRINGSTEEN ON TRUMP IN THE SUNDAY TIMES AND ROLLING STONE SundayTimes writer Nick Rufford was backstage with Bruce Springsteen earlier this month at Gillette Stadium, the final show of the 2016 River Tour, for today's cover story in The Sunday Times Magazine. On the whole it's less interview than book report, with all eyes right now on Born to Run, but their pre-show discussion was heavy on issues facing the States today, from gun control to the presidential election. As he's made clear in recent days, The Boss is no fan of The Donald:
"Since the whole story of 'Mexicans are rapists,' he [Trump] has been in the business of stirring up hate. His favourite thing now is that the election is gonna be rigged. In other words, if he doesn't win, whoever does win is illegitimate. He has a lot of followers out there. You tell them that their government is illegitimate, I personally don't know what some of them might do. My fear is that he is moving the country beyond democracy into more of a mob rule."
As Caryn Rose pointed out last week for MTV News ["Bruce Springsteen and the Political Tour That Wasn't"], Springsteen's latest election-year tour was conspicuously light on explicit political commentary. But off-stage, promoting Bornto Run in the days since, Bruce has shifted gears. He described Trump's candidacy to Skavlan as "a great embarrassment if you are an American" and, speaking to Rolling Stone, flat-out called Trump a "moron":
"Well, you know, the republic is under siege by a moron, basically. The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it's a tragedy for our democracy.... The ideas he's moving to the mainstream are all very dangerous ideas — white nationalism and the alt-right movement. The outrageous things that he's done — not immediately disavowing David Duke? These are things that are obviously beyond the pale for any previous political candidate. It would sink your candidacy immediately.
"I believe that there's a price being paid for not addressing the real cost of the deindustrialization and globalization that has occurred in the United States for the past 35, 40 years and how it's deeply affected people's lives and deeply hurt people to where they want someone who says they have a solution. And Trump's thing is simple answers to very complex problems. Fallacious answers to very complex problems. And that can be very appealing."
ICYMI: LAST NIGHT'S LATE-NIGHT BIRTHDAY TELLYVISION
Last night, Bruce Springsteen — or as Stephen Colbert introduced him, "the master American troubadour of my lifetime" — guested for four full segments on The Late Show, the night's only guest. Taping in the Ed Sullivan Theater, Colbert was able to point out to Springsteen the corner of the balcony where the girls were filmed screaming for Elvis and the Beatles. This time they screamed (and Broooced) for Bruce. "That's why I got here," laughed Springsteen, "That's why I'm here." Watch the full episode at CBS.com, or individual segments on YouTube.
Springsteen's half-hour segment on Skavlan aired last night, too. The program was previewed yesterday with a clip discussing Trump, but the full interview is wide-ranging, from family to country, subjects springing from the Born to Run memoir. Skavlan airs in Sweden and Norway; watch it here:
- September 24, 2016
HEY SIRI, WHERE CAN I SEE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN NEXT WEEK?
Add another stop to the Born to Run book tour: next Wednesday, September 28, after he spends the afternoon at Barnes & Noble Union Square in NYC, Bruce Springsteen will head downtown to the Apple Store SoHo for a 7pm talk. According to the Facebook event page, "This event is a hosted discussion with Bruce. It is not a meet and greet nor a signing." This makes three such nights on the tour, along with the 10/5 City Arts & Lectures and the 10/7 New Yorker Festival.
The Apple SoHo event is limited to 350 guests, and seating is limited and not guaranteed. Registration opens at 3pm Eastern tomorrow (Saturday, 9/24); see Facebook for further details. - September 23, 2016
COLBERT, SKAVLAN, BOTH AIR TONIGHT
Tonight, don't forget to tune in to CBS for Springsteen's birthday appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, taped yesterday. Meanwhile across the Atlantic, Scandinavians will also be treated to a late-night talk show appearance, with Springsteen guesting on Skavlan. As NRK reports, the program, which airs in Norway and Sweden, was recorded yesterday in New York as well. Along with the autobiography, Springsteen and host Fredrik Skavlan [above] discussed the U.S. presidential election, specifically the candidacy of Donald Trump. "I can't find, in any of your songs — I can find a lot of characters, but I can't find Donald Trump," says Skavlan. Springsteen replies: "That would be... you'd have to search out the carny barker." Watch the preview clip here. - September 23, 2016 - photograph via Twitter/@FredrikSkavlan
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRUCE!
From the pages of Born to Run, there's baby Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen — born 67 years ago today. Leave it to Springsteen to give presents to us for his birthday. The new autobiography, due next week, looks back over his first two-thirds of a century; Chapter & Verse, out today, is the story in song, from a 50-year career. And counting, of course.
But what do you get for a man who's got all the riches any man ever knew? Well, the New York Times Book Review has the right idea: you get one of the greatest novelists of our time (and one of Bruce's own favorites) to review his book.
In this Sunday's edition, Richard Ford considers Born to Run — and it's practically a love letter. Two years ago in those same pages ["Bruce Springsteen: By the Book"] Bruce raved about the novelist: "I love the way Richard Ford writes about New Jersey. The Sportswriter, Independence Day and The Lay of the Land are all set on my stomping grounds and, besides being poignant and hilarious, nail the Jersey Shore perfectly." In his new 2,200-word cover story, Ford returns the compliment:
It helps that Springsteen can write — not just lifeimprinting song lyrics but good, solid prose that travels all the way to the right margin. I mean, you’d think a guy who wrote "Spanish Johnny drove in from the underworld last night / With bruised arms and broken rhythm and a beat-up old Buick..." could navigate his way around a complete and creditable American sentence. And you'd be right. Oh, there are a few gassy bits here and there, a jot too much couch-inspired hooey about the "terrain inside my own head." A tad more rock 'n' roll highfalutin than this reader really needs — though the Bruce enthusiasts down in Sea-Clift won’t agree with me. No way. But nothing in Born to Run rings to me as unmeant or punch-pulling. If anything, Springsteen wants credit for telling it the way it really is and was. And like a fabled Springsteen concert — always notable for its deck-clearing thoroughness — Born to Run achieves the sensation that all the relevant questions have been answered by the time the lights are turned out.
Not a bad birthday treat, especially for a man who once said to his parents from the stage, at the Roxy in '78, "one of you wanted a lawyer, and the other one wanted an author. Well, tonight, you're both just gonna have to settle for rock 'n' roll."
From the cradle to the cape, it's been a ride, ride ride... happy birthday, Boss! And many more.
- September 23, 2016 - Top: the first of 16 pages of photos in Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run (Simon & Schuster) - Bottom: photograph by Ryan Hilligoss, Philadelphia, 9/7/16
Listen as Bruce discusses his first recording session in 1966 including a clip of their track "Baby I," included on Chapter & Verse. pic.twitter.com/eWEtOEkG1t
You've seen a lot of Frank Stefanko's "Corvette Winter" lately. You'll be seeing it on your nightstand shortly, on the cover of Born to Run; it's on the cover of Chapter and Verse, too, due tomorrow and the 2017 Springsteen calendar as well — "a trifecta I'm kinda proud of," Frank tells us. "Corvette Winter" dates back to 1978, from a weekend shoot in Haddonfield, NJ that also resulted in the covers for Darkness on the Edge of Town and The River. Frank wites in his book of Springsteen photography Days of Hope and Dreams (where you'll also see "Corvette Winter" on a double spread):
"Bruce seemed to come to Haddonfield in a different vehicle each time. After his initial visit in that old Chevy pick-up truck, the next day, Sunday, he arrived in a slick '60 Corvette. I think that car was his pride and joy. It was loaded, it was sleek, it ruled Route 9 and the New Jersey Turnpike. I imagined what it would be like to be Bruce, cruising in that Vette up the Pike under that giant Exxon sign in the wee, wee hours, thinking up song ideas while listening to his favorite tunes in that bad-ass Corvette."
"Corvette Winter" has also become one of the best-selling photographs in the history of Morrison Hotel Gallery, as you'll see in the new video above. Listen to Frank narrating the story of the image, and the happy accident of its evocation of "Thunder Road." Morrison Hotel still has the fine-art photograph for sale, in an 11x14 open edition or the monumental 30x40, each taken from the original negative and hand-signed by Stefanko. - September 22, 2016
67 BRUCE SONGS
Let the birthday celebrations begin! Our buddy Rich Russo — musicologist and host of Anything Anything on the FM dial and The Jersey Guy Does Jersey on the Underground Garage channel on SiriusXM — has put together a special Mixcloud playlist to commemorate Bruce Springsteen's 67th birthday this Friday. Befitting Russo's freeform tastes, "67 Different Springsteen Songs by 67 Different Artists" runs the genre gamut, including rock, country, pop, jazz, soul, hip-hop, punk, and even classical. As Rich says, "This is not some definitive ranking or the best version — in some cases, they may be the worst. There will be things you have heard, and perhaps things you haven't or didn't even know existed." It's just as the title says, 67 songs all written by one man, by 67 different artists, in no order, with no theme — other than who wrote the songs.
There are plenty of twists and turns here. The English band who recorded what is Springsteen's only #1 song is here — but not with that song. Did you know those guys recorded four versions of thre Bruce songs? And did you know that a famous group of sisters who had a big hit with a Springsteen song had actually recorded another Bruce song as well? Yep, Russo skips the hit there, too.
"The opener is the oldest song on this list and the closer is a fitting way to end it, but the rest," Rich says, "just fall where they fall. This clocks in at over four hours — fitting, considering Bruce and E Street's recent concert lengths." - September 21, 2016
A week out from the September 27 release of Bruce Springsteen's autobiography, the reviews have started to appear. The New York Times and Washington Post have weighed in — and so far, Born to Run is looking like a hit.
In the New York Times, Dwight Garner writes, "The book is like one of Mr. Springsteen’s shows — long, ecstatic, exhausting, filled with peaks and valleys... His writing voice is much like his speaking voice; there's a big, raspy laugh on at least every other page. There's some raunch here. This book has not been utterly sanitized for anyone’s protection, and many of the best lines won't be printed in this newspaper. Most important, 'Born to Run' is, like his finest songs, closely observed from end to end." Read:"Bruce Springsteen's Memoir: Riding Shotgun With the Boss"
In the Washington Post, Joe Heim calls Born to Run "a 508-page offering that, like his four-hour concerts, delivers enough punch and laughter, sorrow and succor, to satisfy your soul and still, somehow, leave you wanting more.... these chapters reveal many new sides, not all flattering, of a person who has been telling his story for nearly a half century.... It turns out Springsteen fans did need an autobiography after all." Read:"Why would Bruce Springsteen need to write an autobiography? Everyone has secrets"
Update: More in today...
Richard Williams writes for The Guardian: "In a book that bears the hallmarks of having been written by his own hand, Springsteen is particularly good at capturing the exhilaration of his rise to success with the E Street Band.... The book is as rich in anecdote and detail as in anguish and doubt.... Overwriting and repetition sometimes make it feel as though he has chosen to issue the literary equivalent of the four-CD deluxe version, complete with demos and out-takes, instead of the finished album itself." Read:"Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen review – inside the mind of the Boss"
- Updated September 21, 2016
ICYMI: "THE FUEL THAT STARTS THE FIRE" ON CBS SUNDAY MORNING
Above, the Springsteen segment from yesterday's CBS Sunday Morning, including a stroll through Freehold and Bruce's old Catholic school ("I'm gettin' the willies!"), some sneak peeks at the pages of Born to Run (get the pause button ready), and a candid discussion of depression.
Oh, and — from the memoir's 16-page photo section — baby pictures.
A text version of the story is at cbsnews.com, along
this web exclusive video, Bruce talking to Anthony Mason about finding his voice while writing Born to Run.
- September 19, 2016
STEVIE REMAINS BUSY EIGHT DAYS A WEEK (OF COURSE) Van Zandt co-hosts NYC premiere of new Beatles doc
Not surprisingly, only eighteen hours after The River Tour 2016 ended, Stevie Van Zandt was busily engaged in another of his many pet projects. On Thursday night, Steve was at The Village East Cinema, co-hosting the New York City premiere of Ron Howard's new documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years.
Many other celebrities were in attendance for the event, a benefit for Steve's The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, including his E Street bandmates Max Weinberg and Charlie Giordano as well as his former Sopranos castmates Vincent Pastore, Tony Sirico and Vincent Curatola. Co-host Paul Shaffer joked with the audience about Steve just before the film started: "This man just finished a grueling tour. Just last night... How long was it? Four hours? Wow. I just want to remind you, Steven, of one thing. The Beatles did 20 minutes." Stevie replied, "As Max has been saying, the show we did last night was longer than an entire Beatles tour."
In addition to the joy of experiencing beautifully restored footage and sound of The Beatles live in their prime on the big screen (including an in-theaters-only restoration of The Fab Four's legendary Shea Stadium concert following the documentary,) the main purpose of the evening was a very important one. "Music education matters," said the Foundation's board chair David Roth. "It matters that thousands of young people all across this great country, extraordinarily diverse groups of people — socioeconomically diverse, ethnically diverse, geographically diverse — they can all come together to learn about and support that which helps define us culturally."
Some of the educators involved in bringing the Foundation's Rock and Roll: An American Story curriculum alive in U.S. public schools were present and recognized at the premiere. Proceeds from the premiere also will be used to support teachers' training in a new Beatles-themed element of the curriculum that incorporates Howard's documentary. It explores not only The Beatles' musical influences and impact but also the significance of their arrival during a period of immense social changes, both in the U.S. and abroad. "We are launching the most extensive Beatles-based educational materials that have ever been done," said Dr. Warren Zanes, the Foundation's executive director.
It won't surprise anyone reading this report that both Thursday's fundraising premiere and the launching of the new Beatles-themed educational materials wouldn't have happened without the tireless efforts of Steve Van Zandt, who spearheaded both projects. "It's hard to say no to Stevie Van Zandt," Dr. Zanes said smilingly at the premiere. "Jeff [Jones, CEO of Apple Corps] didn't. I want to thank him for that."
Steve himself drew the biggest connections between The Beatles' lasting impact and what led him to join with others in forming The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation. Recalling the moment when he and his younger brother first heard The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" over a transistor radio in their shared bedroom, Steve said, "We were hearing unbridled joy for the first time. That's what The Beatles communicated... and that unbridled joy turned into an art form just a year later, changing pop music forever. They started influencing each other — The Beatles and Bob Dylan and the Stones and The Byrds... and suddenly an art form was born. And that 'coup' that rock and roll staged, taking over the radio, turned into a revolution. And the revolution turned into a renaissance. We were just lucky enough to be there at the time, but I believe this renaissance will be inspirational and motivational and studied for hundreds of years to come. I sincerely believe that. So that's why we do what we do. We're trying to make sure that renaissance period of this most amazing music ever made is accessible for future generations."
For more on The Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, click here to read our archived May 2016 interview with the Foundation's executive director Dr. Warren Zanes.
To learn where and how to see The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years, click here to visit the film's official website.
For more on The Beatles' lasting impact on E Street, click here to read our archived February 2014 feature celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first live U.S. television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. - September 18, 2016 - Shawn Poole reporting - photographs by A.M. Saddler
DVR ALERT: CBS SUNDAY MORNING THIS WEEKEND, COLBERT NEXT WEEK
Bruce Springsteen's book tour doesn't get underway until Born to Run's September 27 release, but the promotion begins shortly with high-profile television appearances on CBS.
Next week — on Bruce's birthday, in fact — he'll guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for an "extended interview."
That's Friday, September 23. First, though, you can spend Sunday with Springsteen.
- Springsteen and Anthony Mason on the streets of Freehold, NJ
This Sunday, September 18,
Springsteen's first televised interview about the new book will air on CBS Sunday Morning. In a wide-ranging interview, he talked with Anthony Mason about his battles with depression, his childhood in Freehold, his complicated relationship with his father, losing Clarence Clemons, songwriting, and much more.
- In the halls of Springsteen's old school, Freehold's St. Rose of Lima
His depression, Springsteen tells Mason, lasted for a long time. "It lasted for more than a year and then it would slip away. Then it would come back for a year and a half." He credits Patti Scialfa with helping him get through it. "It sneaks up on you. I got to where I didn’t want to get out of bed, you know? And you're not behaving well at home, and you’re tough on everybody. Hopefully not the kids. I always try to hide it from the kids. But, you know, Patti really had to work with me through it — and she was... her strength and the love she had was very important."
Tune in to CBS Sunday Morning on September 18 at 9am ET on CBS. - September 16, 2016
"AN INCREDIBLE TOUR... I'D JUST LIKE TO THANK EVERYBODY"
Via E Street Radio, a special tour-end message of thanks to the fans from Bruce Springsteen, recorded backstage at Gillette Stadium yesterday and played at the end of their pre-show broadcast. - September 15, 2016
SEPTEMBER 14, FOXBOROUGH: LAST DANCE FOR THE 2016 RIVER TOUR
"Hello, Foxborough! You're looking good!" Bruce Springsteen greeted the vast expanse of Gillette Stadium as the E Street Band took the stage for the last night of The River Tour 2016. As has become the new normal over the previous nine shows, the band opened the evening yet again with "New York City Serenade." "Yet again" seems like such an improper way to address the fact that everyone who showed up got to see this elusive masterpiece, but clearly, that's how Bruce wanted it. "Serenade" is such a rich, diverse number that it can take on different shades and tones based on Bruce's mood, the audience, the venue, or general feeling in the air. Tonight it was loose and languorous. It felt like the end of summer, Bruce vamping, "Sometimes you gotta walk on… just walk on" at the end, as though the older version of the song's narrator was offering some sage advice to Billy and Diamond Jackie. (Or maybe it was just the Junkman talking.)
With a nod to Roy Bittan, the piano introduction to "Prove It All Night" began, making it obvious that this wasn't any "Prove it," but "Prove It '78," complete with the accompanying Springsteen guitar wizardry. Tight and compact, his intro solo was executed with precision, strong, almost linear. And then, as Bruce brought the guitar neck down for the last time, the band came thundering right into place and the body of the song kicked in. There are so many of those moments to watch at a Springsteen show, but this one was breathless as you followed the solo, waiting for that moment of, well, climax. The power of the arrival of the band was a declaration of intent: the E Street Band is here and ready for business. It was almost a second opener.
The now-familiar '73 run of songs (which was not on the printed setlist; this was originally meant to be a Darkness night) featured Bruce in prime storytelling, end-of-tour summational mode. He offered versions of many of the tales he's been telling over the last few weeks, presumably inspired by what we'll soon be able to read in Born to Run. A tale of living above the beauty salon in Asbury Park prefaced "Blinded by the Light": Bruce had handed his record in to the record company, and they said, "'There's no hits on it! There's nothing we can play on the radio!' So I went home; I got out my rhyming dictionary, and I looked out my window. And I saw Mad Dog Vincent Lopez in a tirade on the street in front of me! He was assaulting a young man for taking his parking place. And I thought…" With that, Bruce launched into "Blinded by the Light," madman drummer bummers and all.
"Saint in the City" began with the tale about arriving in front of Columbia A&R exec John Hammond. Introducing "Growin' Up," Bruce proudly crowed, "Before my upcoming smash biography, this was my biography — 'Author, author!'" He also included the now-familiar story of how he earned his first guitar, "the only honest work I would do in my entire life," performing a series of tasks for his various relatives at the price of 50 cents an hour.
But let's not overlook the performances of the actual songs. "Saint in the City" was a locomotive, the band driving hard and Bruce egging Steve on at the solos. "Steve!" he yelled at the first lick, and then again, affectionately, but still: "Steve!" until Van Zandt delivered to the Boss' satisfaction. "Lost in the Flood" was delivered with martial precision. And "Incident" was drop-dead gorgeous and ethereal, making you feel like you were there at that moment. The music marshalled attention and what felt like an impossible silence throughout the stadium at the second to last verse: Johnny sitting on the fire escape, Garry Tallent oh-so-effortlessly providing both the bottom and the melody to move Bruce through the song. You felt the seasons change; you knew summer was gone. And then, that tumble once again into "Rosalita," that utter explosion of joy.
A large sign collection effort followed "Rosalita," but Bruce clearly didn't get everything he wanted, as he would keep shuffling through them. Unlike many of the shows this leg, the signs didn't just map to what he'd already decided he wanted to play. The signs resulted in a surprisingly passionate "Boom Boom," which Bruce had tremendous fun with, in full blues shouting mode. "I mean RIGHT NOW," he would — goddamn! — testify. That level of driving power would continue into "Darkness on the Edge of Town," another choice from the sign pile, where it felt like Bruce was raising the level of intensity from verse to verse. By the time he reached that last "on the edge of TOWnnnnnnn," you felt it, hard, right along with him. It was visceral. The sign for "Radio Nowhere" garnered a strong response from the front pit, but Bruce needed a few seconds to run through the chords. "I think I got it," he said, as he ran his fingers along the fret board. There were many excited shouts of anticipation, to which Bruce responded, laughing, "I'm going as fast as I can!" (The people at the top of Gillette Stadium are probably still wondering what on earth was going on down there.) Later, a sign referencing the Patriots' Deflategate would spur a frenetic, rave-up version of the "Detroit Medley," which felt like a Hullaballoo Club dance party with the E Street Band. "Light of Day" wasn't from a sign, but it would be the perfect follow-up to the Medley, the crowd not needing an engraved invitation to sing on the "Land of 1,000 Dances" refrain, spurring Bruce's energy yet further.
Despite this being a tour closer, the mood tonight was buoyant, loose, celebratory. Bruce's unmistakable cackle would be heard multiple times, and he grinned ear to ear pretty much nonstop. The mood was matched by the rest of the band, whose expressions ranged from delighted to bemused, especially at moments like Bruce miscalculating how long it would take him to run back to the pit divider for "Spirit in the Night." (Jake Clemons would also seemingly lose track, having to flat-out sprint off stage in order to get back there in time.) "If you're gonna Bruuuuce me, Bruuuce me right," he giggled in the middle of "Growin' Up." When he reached the key line of "Bus Stop," he leaned forward, cupped his hand around his ear, and urged the crowd to shout, "Man, the dope's that there's still hope!" back at him. That resulted in yet another delighted cackle when the line was delivered at a volume that met his satisfaction.
"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" was the result of another sign, resulting in a mad scramble by Roy to get the accordion and scurry over to the other side of the stage, only for Bruce to stop the band and announce that he'd let them know when they would come in. He said he wanted to try something different. "Something different" would end up being just Bruce and the electric guitar, with a delivery that felt less like the hipster beach bum of the original story, more like he'd grown up and was telling us about a life that he used to live, relating it warmly and affectionately. It felt like Bruce was reinterpreting it for himself right in front of us, figuring it out as he went along. The band kept watching him with an eagle eye the way they always have to, waiting for him to cue them in. (Roy looked like he was thinking, "This thing is heavy, Boss.") And Bruce knows they're standing there ready to jump in, and he gently stage-whispers, "Not yet," before taking another verse, and another, before letting them finally come in at the end, finishing things up beautifully. The song felt like that last warm week after Labor Day, when the tourists are gone and the locals get the beach to themselves.
"American Skin" maintained its spot in the show, never faltering, always there to remind us that we don't have the luxury of not remembering. Plenty of fans held their hands up in solidarity alongside Jake Clemons' gesture of silent protest. But again, as it should be, "American Skin" was backed up by "The Promised Land," reminding us — as we'd get in a minute, with "what we'll do and what we won't" — that we should be doing better.
This theme would continue in the encore, after the nod to the local hunger initiative, the Food Project. "This the last night of our tour," Bruce told the crowd. "We've been through the United States, and we've been through Europe and back here for these ten shows…. They've meant a tremendous amount to us, I can't tell you how much we appreciate you folks coming out and seeing us tonight. It never gets old. It's an amazing thing to see all the people who still support your music after all these years. So along with all of you, I've had to live through the election campaign, and I gotta say, it's gotta be one of the ugliest I've ever seen. And there was just a lot of speaking to our worst angels. You let those things out of the bottle, all that ugliness — the genie doesn't go back in the bottle so simple. Anyway, I'm going to do this with that in mind. This is 'Long Walk Home'." As in Pittsburgh on the previous weekend, it was fantastic to hear this underrated Magic number take pride of place again, the crowd on the refrain, just Bruce and acoustic guitar, stripping the song down to its barest essentials, perhaps in hope it wouldn't be misunderstood.
The epic for Boston was "Jungleland," guitar aloft in tribute, the crowd on their feet, shouting along, living the journey with Bruce as he took us through it one more time. It's something that never gets old, the hoots of joy and satisfaction from the old timers who are happy to hear it one more time, and the smiles and high-fives between the kids in their 20s who are glad to get to hear it. It is ritual and remembrance and so much about the reason we are all here. That organ line on "from the churches to the jails" never fails to deliver goosebumps, and Jake Clemons once again delivered a strong interpretation of the sax solo, earning another decisive embrace from Bruce at its completion.
The sight of the entirety of Gillette Stadium on their feet as the house lights came on for "Born to Run" was gorgeous; it's always the best thing to look around at that moment and see the elation and the excitement and remember what it was like to hear that song for the first time, when it was all so new. It wouldn't be a Springsteen show in Boston without Peter Wolf showing up, which he did for "Shout," doing his best to provide background vocals precisely accurate to the Isley Brothers original.
Then the sequined cape comes out. The becaped Boss crawls down the stairs, still holding a guitar, and actually sits on the top step of said stairs. "The Boss has left the building," Steve tells the audience, glancing backward. "No, that is not him that you see idling at the top of the stairs." The camera cuts to Bruce, hamming it up and shaking his head "Noooooo" just before he leaps up and reappears, dropping to his knees and striking that Elvis "American Eagle" pose from Aloha from Hawaii. (And I swear that Max matched it with the same drumbeats that Elvis used at that entrance). It is a great bit of showmanship that hearkens back to the music that influenced every single person on that stage, and it is gratifying to watch this bit of rock 'n' roll history preserved.
Speaking of rock 'n' roll history: the big surprise was next, as those unmistakable chords heralded "Rockin' All Over the World," ringing out across the Foxborough night. It would be the perfect ending, the absolute right decision, the crowd singing loud and proud, the band smiling approval across the stage, Bruce continuing the tradition, Bruce tying his music back to its roots, making that explicit connection once again.
What's that? One more? Of course: it's time for "Bobby Jean," one more stadium waving back at Bruce, that song of goodbye and remembrance and memory, before the band comes to the front and waves and smiles and blows kisses and points at fans in the crowd. Bruce reminds us, as though we'd ever forget: "The E Street Band loves you!" After Bruce's final wave goodbye after ushering the band offstage, Donna Summer's "The Last Dance" comes on over the PA, instead of the usual choice of Alison Krauss' lovely "Down to The River to Pray." It ended the night on that celebratory high note, making you dance off the field, out of the stands and home, another E Street Band tour put to bed — at least, until the next one.
[For the record, tonight would clock in at 4:02:15, Bruce's third-longest show in history.]
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- September 15, 2016 - Caryn Rose reporting - photographs by Barry Schneier (1-8, 11) and Caryn Rose (9-10)
SEPTEMBER 11, PITTSBURGH: CERTAIN THINGS ARE SET IN STONE
"Back where we started," Bruce Springsteen remarked to the packed CONSOL Energy Center at the onset of Sunday night's stellar 3:45 concert. Before the show even began, there was a lot to distinguish this penultimate stop on the 2016 River Tour: not only was it a return to the stage where the nine-month trek kicked off in January, it was also a rare arena stop at this point on the tour, and most significantly, the first time Bruce and the E Street Band would play a concert on September 11 following the 9/11 tragedy 15 years ago.
They were back where they started, sure, but not much was "full circle" about the return to Pittsburgh. This was a radically different setlist and performance — more than two hours went by before a single song repeated from the January show. With the full River sequence just a dot in the rearview mirror, Springsteen combined the 1970s wayback machine of recent concerts with an extended, moving 9/11 memorial as well his most explicit commentary to date on the 2016 election. Even if sorta by proxy. (In the same city, it's worth nothing, where he responded to Ronald Reagan in 1984.) Taken together, the 9/11 Pittsburgh performance was a time-hopping, peaks-and-valleys look at the state of our nation. Trouble in the heartland, to be sure... but plenty of rising up, too.
If finding something more breathtaking than the opening "New York City Serenade" would seem like a challenge, Springsteen rose to it by cueing up "Into the Fire" right away in the second slot. The first of four songs in a row from TheRising, "Into the Fire" had been performed once before on this tour, in Paris over the summer. But given Sunday's occasion — and the immediate confirmation that Bruce and the band would be marking it — it was a powerful moment up there with the biggest setlist surprises. That was the case with the cathartic "Lonesome Day" that followed, too: less of a rarity, but it came with with a visceral thrill: "Oh, we're doing this." In context, paired with "Into the Fire," "Lonesome Day" hadn't hit me this way since the Rising tour 13 years ago.
But the real intake of breath came next, as Roy Bittan began his lullabye introduction to "You're Missing": unplayed since the Devils & Dust tour in 2005, and not with the E Street Band since the Rising tour. Springsteen stood still at center stage to deliver the heartrending vocal, and the years melted away. "Mary's Place" lifted us back up, with Bruce in high spirits — "Now listen," he said, "shhhhhh," as he always does, and then with a barely contained smile, "Don't Bruce me! Don't Bruce me right now. I'm workin'!" After pacing the lip of the stage, calling to "Let it rain! Let it rain!" and joining with the band for the final gospel harmonies, Springsteen had Max keep the drums rolling as he grabbed a new guitar from Kevin Buell. The moment of tension stretched out: would it be a fifth song from The Rising? No, we were on to "Darkness on the Edge of Town." But it became clear, "I lost my faith when I lost my wife" resonating so soon after "You're Missing," that this song was part of the same arc. Bruce called "Darkness" as an audible; as he sang about "lives on the line where dreams are found and lost," less than 90 miles from the Flight 93 National Memorial, you knew why.
But so much of the night, as with the opening song, was a New York story. This leg's amazing run of early material not forgotten, Bruce took us further back in the next bit of time travel to the New York and New Jersey of the early '70s, when the towers still stood. Following "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" Springsteen gave some narration that tied it all together: "So I'm on the bus. I've got my busted-up old guitar. I'm going to New York City for my big record label audition. I'm shitting my pants!" Soon we're on the elevator with him, rising "up… up… way up above the street... up past the clouds... up past the angels singin'... up! I get out, I go to the office of John Hammond, one of the greatest record executives of all time... I sit down in my chair, and I say: I had skin like leather and the diamond-hard look of a cobra..."
"It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City" was diamond-hard for sure, highlighted as usual by Bruce and Stevie facing off on guitar as the crescendo builds and builds and Max pounds his way to the end. On a joyous "Growin' Up," it was story time again. Bruce took us even further back in the time machine (after saying one more time, "Don't Bruce me!"). It's almost like the guy's been writing his memoirs or something:
There I was, stranded in my little town, in 1964. Shortly after the disappearance of the dinosaurs. Very unfriendly place, little New Jersey town in 1964. Very unfriendly. And I was a little bit of a frrreak! So I had to find something — I needed something I could do. Something I could do that would make me feel good. I had one thing... [crowd laughs]... there's only so many things you can do for four hours! So I was looking for something else. And I walked past a Western Auto store that sold guitars and car parts, and I saw this old, funky, acoustic guitar in the window.
And I knew to get that guitar I was gonna have to work! So I want to my aunts and uncles, my Uncle Warren came out, showed me how to cut the hedges with the shears, mow the lawn.... I painted the house across the street. Tarred the roof in mid-summer heat, 95 degrees. For 50 cents an hour. And that was the last honest work I ever did.
I went downtown, I picked out that guitar, I took it home, and I started to practice. Practice. Practice. One hour. Ten hours. 100 hours, 200 hours, 5,000 hours. Did that guy [Malcolm Gladwell] say 10,000 hours? Takes more than that! 20,000 hours! Until soon, I picked it up one day, and it went...
Well, you know how it went. Goosebumps as the band rumbles in and Bruce is off to take his vacations in the stratosphere. "Spirit in the Night" had him circling the pit and deciding, "Love in the dirt... I think that's the title of my next album!" The Greetings fest continued with "Lost in the Flood," full power and glory on display as Springsteen cranked out a jawdropping lead, bathed in red light, and Roy's magnificent piano bookended the song.
Next Wild & Innocent gave us three in a row, with the jazz exursions of "Kitty's Back" followed by the reuniting of "Incident" and "Rosalita" after a night apart in Philly. And it felt so good. "Incident" was musically magnificent as usual, with spotlight on Garry Tallent before the whole thing swells at the end, Bruce letting his guitar talk. The transition from "Incident" was not lost on the Pittsburgh crowd — you could kinda feel the room holding its breath and hoping — and then "Rosie" had the whole place rocking to the rafters. Riding that uptempo wave, local hero Joe Grushecky and son Johnny came out for "Light of Day" (they'd actually been in Jersey for that very event when the E Street Band played here back in January).
And then it was on to another powerful and poignant arc, one that brought the thematic time machine right back to this millennium. "Streets of Fire" set the scene; "American Skin (41 Shots)" was a true tour de force, one of the most moving songs of the night (which is saying something); and "The Promised Land" blew it all away. Think of how much history Springsteen packed into one set already: from the mean-ish streets of small town New Jersey, to boogalooing down Broadway, to Amadou Diallo, to the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath, to "Hands up, don't shoot," and still the promise up ahead. And still time for a bit of River history too, on The River Tour, eschewing go-tos like "Hungry Heart" and "Out in the Street" for deeper cuts "Cadillac Ranch" (an audible) and "I'm a Rocker."
Another peak came with "My City of Ruins" into "The Rising," bringing the night's total to six songs from 2002 album. (And none of them "Waitin' on a Sunny Day"!) There was definitely magic in the night on "My City of Ruins," as the place lit up with "fireflies," points of light dotting the floor and the stands throughout the venue. Bruce and the band's call to "rise up!' — and the crowd's too — was explosive. "The Rising" on a night like this would surely have had plenty of potency on its own, but with "My City of Ruins" as a lead-in, that title track felt more vital than it has in years.
Just when you thought we might be done with current events (especially after "Badlands" tied it all up with a big effing bow) Springsteen called an audible to start the encore alone — and address the most current. Rather than leading the band into the setlisted "Secret Garden," he worked out some chords on his guitar and held up what looked like a pamphlet. "Somebody gave me a copy of the Constitution of the United States," he told the crowd to loud cheers. "Uh, it does say 'Fuck Trump' on the front of it." The cheers for that were even louder. "And this was his request." Movingly performed alone on acoustic guitar, "Long Walk Home" was a long time coming, a stand-out from Magic that remains all too appropriate during this bizarre election season — eight years later, a perfect song for the moment. Performed in this stripped-down fashion for the first time, the lyric was heard loud and clear, and one of Springsteen's greatest modern verses was met with the applause it deserves:
"...that flag flying over the courthouse
Means certain things are set in stone
Who we are, what we'll do and what we won't."
Follow all that with an intense, beautifully delivered "Backstreets," and you've earned a lights-up, dance party blowout. Which of course was provided. It was one of those nights when Springsteen seemed to grow younger as the night went on, shedding years and gaining energy. The man was moonwalking during the encore and giddy enough during "Shout" that when the cape routine kicked in, you didn't believe he was actually exhuasted for a second.
"Thank you Pittsburgh, for everything," Bruce hollered at the end. "Another fantastic Pittsburgh crowd... thank you for opening the tour, and closing!" Now, everyone at Gillette Stadium for the last dance will surely have a different take on the matter — including Bruce and the E Street Band. But in the moment, you knew what he meant. That's how it felt.
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- Updated September 14, 2016 - Christopher Phillips reporting - photographs by Guy Aceto - video clips by Nick DominicOH
LTD. ED. DELUXE BOX CONTAINS SIGNED/NUMBERED BORN TO RUN
Another way to get a signed copy of Springsteen's autobiography, announced this afternoon at brucespringsteen.net: "For the ultimate Bruce Springsteen fan, the Born to RunDeluxe Limited Edition contains a signed and numbered copy of Springsteen's autobiography, Born to Run, and a CD copy of Chapter and Verse, presented together in a handsome box set."
The limited box is available for pre-order in the U.S. exclusively from Barnes & Noble for $350, as well as from Waterstones in the UK and Europe for £250, and Indigo in Canada for $450 Cdn.
For the standard hardcover edition (unsigned, at a tenth the price), you can still pre-order Born to Run from Backstreet Records, by itself or in bundles with Chapter and Verse, to receive a FREE bonus Born to Run promo poster. - September 14, 2016
DON’T BOGART THE BOSS!
Not surprisingly, the first round of ticket sales/reservations for Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run book tour left bookstores... well, booked. His appearances in Freehold on September 27, New York City on September 28, Seattle on October 1, San Francisco on October 5 (in conversation with Dan Stone) and Cambridge on October 10 are now all sold out.
In the spirit of "we take care of our own," it's worth remembering the following as so many fans try for the relatively small number of tickets that are available. Should you be lucky enough to score a meet-and-greet ticket, there's no need to go all Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. None of these dates are performances; only Bruce's San Francisco (10/5) and New York (10/7) appearances are speaking engagements. All of the other appearances will follow the same format best described on Cambridge's event page: "Event is meet & greet with photo only. No book discussion, personalized signing, or performance. You are allowed one posed photo with Bruce Springsteen... Bruce will not sign anything during the event (books will be pre-signed), so no memorabilia or other items are allowed." So it doesn't make much sense to attend more than one meet-and-greet, especially with so many fans hoping for a shot… don't bogart the Boss! - September 14, 2016 - Shawn Poole reporting
SPRINGSTEEN AT STAND UP FOR HEROES: A PERFECT 10
Another Stand Up for Heroes, another Bruce Springsteen performance (and likely another few dirty-ish jokes). The man is committed. This will be Springsteen's tenth appearance, at the tenth annual Bob Woodruff Foundation benefit honoring injured soldiers and veterans. Part of the New York Comedy Festival (and also featuring Louis C.K., Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jon Stewart), this year's Stand Up for Heroes will be held November 1 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. See nycomedyfestival.com for event details, with tickets on sale now through Ticketmaster. - September 13, 2016
AMERICAN TOP 314
Longtime Backstreets contributor Caryn Rose, after three-and-a-half months of work, offers an exhaustive examination and ranking of Bruce Springsteen's songs today at Vulture.com. All 314 of them, annotated and in order, from "Mr. Outside" all the way up to — spoiler alert — "Born to Run." (With "Thunder Road" at number two: "It was a tough call there.")
Will you (or predictably outraged folks on the interwebs) agree with everything? Do we? Of course not. Is that very much beside the point? We think so. It's a smart, funny, insightful, honest, thought-provoking, argument-starting look at Bruce's output — every officially released, Springsteen-penned song in the catalog — from a writer, critic, and fan who's been thinking about and bearing witness to This Thing of Ours since Lieutenant Jimmy Bly was in short pants. A long read to savor. Even as you're doing a spit-take or two.
First we got book dates, now E Street Band dates for
The E Street Band rolls on: The 2016 River Tour wraps up here in the States on Wednesday, but just a few months later they'll be back on stage for Summer '17 Down Under, returning to Australia and New Zealand three years after their last visit. The leg kicks off January 25 in Perth, running through February 25 in Auckland. Ticket presales begin September 20, with general onsales beginning on Springsteen's birthday, September 23. Visit frontiertouring.com for details, including their Pre-Sale Survival Guide. - September 12, 2016
As one tour ends, another begins: dates have just been announced for Bruce Springsteen's book tour for Born to Run, two weeks after The River Tour wraps in Massachusetts. Beginning where it all started in Freehold, on the day of the memoir's release (September 27), Springsteen will spend at least two weeks promoting his autobiography with appearances from coast to coast — not performances, to be clear, but appearances. All stops will include a pre-signed copy of the book.
In addition to afternoon bookstore events at Barnes & Nobles and independent booksellers, there will be a pair of evening discussions, in San Francisco and New York. At the City Arts & Lectures event on October 5, Springsteen will be in conversation with Dan Stone; advance ticket sales are currently open to members. At the New Yorker Festival on October 7, Springsteen will be in conversation with editor David Remnick; tickets on sale this Wednesday, 9/14.
Watch this space for further information as we have it. - September 12, 2016 - photograph via Twitter
SEPTEMBER 9, PHILLY 2: RISING UP ON A HOT NIGHT
It might already be September, but the weather and the E Street Band cooperated to create a hot summer night at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia Friday evening. It was warm and sultry in the twilight as the string section once again took their places on the riser behind Roy Bittan before the band entered, Bruce came onstage, and the unmistakable introduction of "New York City Serenade" filled the ballpark for the second night. "Serenade" remains this incredible jewel of a moment, and the band still seems slightly amazed by the beauty that is created in those ten minutes at the start of these shows. "I'm a young man, I talk it real loud," Bruce sang, with echoes of remembrance and longing. Roy once again excelled in performance tonight, with an energetic crispness to the notes. It's also lovely how absolutely psyched the string players seem, and their enthusiasm shines through their performance.
At the end, the very end, Bruce is telling us about the junkman, and he's singing, and singing that last refrain, stepping back from the mic a bit, giving the vocals some more room to grow. Part of it was probably to encourage the audience to raise their voices, but it just seemed like he didn't want to break the spell. Finally, however, the song came to a close, and Bruce regarded the band and the auxiliary musicians with a warm, satisfied smile before acknowledging the strings as they stood for a bow and left the stage.
"How we doing tonight?" Bruce asked. "It's hot!" he said, stating the obvious, especially to those at the front of the stage who had been standing in 90-degree heat for the last four hours. The show would kick off with "Out in the Street" and "Sherry Darling" before a lengthy sign collection interlude — almost as though Bruce was trying to clear the sightline to the stage, because there were so very, very many — and as a result, tonight would veer all over the place.
The first result of this collection would be a version of "From Small Things (Big Things Come)" that echoed St. Louis more than Memphis, Roy channeling his best Johnnie Johnson. "I'm Goin' Down" was a crowd sing-along favorite. "Loose Ends" was a welcome surprise to the audience, but it seemed like a not-so-welcome surprise to Jake Clemons, who did not seem to be acquainted with the sax solo. He eventually figured it out, but not before cracking up Bruce and various members of the band as a result.
"I'd like to bring out an original member of the E Street Band," Bruce said, bringing on "Saint Vincent Van Gogh Lopez" aka Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez. "This kindly looking senior citizen was a freakin' mad dog in 1973," Bruce assured the audience. Vini would contribute his tambourine stylings to a strong "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," complete with sizzling guitar duel between Bruce and Steve. Vini also waved the tambourine around on "Spirit in the Night," which ended with Bruce howling at the moon, literally hanging over the very top of the stadium in the back.
"4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" was soft and perfect, dedicated to anyone from the Shore, but then the opening notes of "Kitty's Back" brought the room to attention, sparking off Bruce's fretboard. "Kitty" is always interesting, but let's be honest: live, it's an extended, free jazz exploration that can, sometimes, veer off course, or meander a little too much — it's just the nature of the composition, the risk you have to take to get the end result. Tonight, however, was another story. The song swung like nobody's business. The band was tight yet loose, weaving together, soloing in a compact, concise fashion with no bloat. Charlie Giordano's solo embodied some of the late Phantom's swing and lift; Jake's solo was sharp and melodic; and once again, the Professor just brought it home with a strong, authoritative run, Max Weinberg crisp behind him, and Garry Tallent holding the bottom down almost invisibly. Bruce urged them all on, intently watching every note. And then of course, he took his own solo, sweat visibly pouring down his fingers. It was the E Street Band at its best. (Props to the audience member on screen wearing a full-head cat mask, jumping up and down holding a sign reading "Kitty.")
From here, Bruce decided it would be a good idea to jump straight into "Rosalita," bypassing "Incident on 57th Street" entirely. To be fair, it was very hot, and "Kitty" was huge, and intense, and it might be greedy to expect it after the previous four shows following that form. But "Rosalita" did not work here; it threw the audience off completely, and it just didn't make sense. This is probably why Bruce went back to the signs, pulling out one reading "Can a College Student Play 'No Surrender,'" with impressive notation about capo placement and chords. The young man was brought up onstage to accompany Bruce on acoustic guitar. While an audience member might not generally expect to pay $196 for a talent show, the gentleman did actually possess talent and personality, and Bruce had a great time up there with him.
The next sign would end up supplying the emotional heart of the show, when Bruce pulled a sign out of the audience reading "We Rose Up" and displaying a photograph of the World Trade Center. "My City of Ruins" was next, and it was a great moment — but what made it even greater was the fact that Bruce chose to follow it with "American Skin," huge and raw as it ever was, and how it always is, Jake Clemons holding the "hands up, don't shoot" pose in the back, quietly, persistently. And then, the coup de grâce, the only possible follow-up, the logical conclusion: "The Promised Land." It was tremendous. It was strong. It was bold, it was courageous, and it was undeniable. You stood there, afterwards, vibrating from it all, not believing that it just happened.
"Candy's Room" and "She's the One" brought us back to mundanity, and then, another sign would steer the set back to course: "Racing in the Street." For some reason, this was like putting up a sign that read "Everybody Talk Now." But it didn't matter, because it was "Racing in the Street." Those opening chords, tender and tragic; the opening lines, matter-of-fact and tragic. The organ comes in to decorate a little, bring in some light. Sometimes Bruce is telling a story, sometimes he's in the story, but he always makes you believe it before handing you over to Roy Bittan. And tonight, Roy's solo was astonishing, and extraordinary: it was rich and expressive, full of complexity and shadows, a palette of color and emotions. And the interplay with Max was enormous, this piano/drum improvisation that you felt in the center of your chest. The instrumental is the end of the story; it's what goes on after Bruce finishes singing to you, the conclusion. Sometimes it's bright; sometimes it's deep; tonight it was borderline Coplandesque, making you feel a sense of hope and promise.
"Lucky Town" is always a welcome thing to hear, and it would be the last off-track rarity as the band charged into the back stretch of hits. "Streets of Philadelphia" would be dedicated to the evening's charity beneficiary, Philabundance. "Streets of Philadelphia" is the oddest candidate for a stadium, and most people were cheering the word "Philadelphia," but it remains one of Bruce's best opening lines, and it is an undeniably powerful and important song that should actually get played in more places besides the city in its title.
The epic tonight would be "Backstreets," guitar aloft in tribute, the audience at attention. And it was during this song that you knew that part of what you'd miss if you couldn't see this band anymore was the communal feeling of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are singing the same words as you are, the words you've sung for years, feeling the shared goosebumps, that collective energy that you can only get from seeing live music, from only this group of musicians. And it's "Backstreets" — "We swore we'd live forever," Bruce sang, with all of the pathos necessary to deliver this song. You never think he doesn't mean it; you can't phone "Backstreets" in. At the end, over the piano refrain, Bruce would murmur, "Forever friends" repeatedly, both arms aloft, eyes closed, visibly moved, and you would swear it wasn't sweat at the corner of his eyes — or maybe it was yours, too.
And then, that moment, that guaranteed moment of awe and delight, that count you'd know in your sleep: "One, two!" "Born to Run" careened off the stage for yet another night. There would be dancing and tribute and more dancing. Bruce introduced the band by running down everyone's educational achievements: Roy the only college graduate, Garry graduated high school, Stevie didn't get out of grammar school. That delightful James Brown cape moment — where does one order a sequined cape reading "The Boss" anyway? — is extended as Bruce retreats down the stairs, and Stevie is left to vamp at the mic: "Bruce is crawling back up the stairs…" "Bobby Jean" comes back because Bruce clearly loves the sight of an entire stadium waving back at him, and then there's "Jersey Girl," and there's more sweat pooling near the corner of Bruce's eyes (and again, maybe yours) before the fireworks go off and you turn into a pumpkin, your feet suddenly hurt and your hands ache from clapping and your throat is sore from singing and yelling. You've just seen the E Street Band.
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- September 10, 2016 - Caryn Rose reporting - photographs by A.M. Saddler
STEVE VAN ZANDT HOSTS FAB FUNDRAISER NEXT WEEK IN NYC
After The River Tour wraps next Wednesday, wouldn't you think Steve Van Zandt might take a break? Nah, you really wouldn't. And true to form, he keeps dancing after the last dance: the very next night, Stevie will be in the East Village along with Paul Shaffer to host the New York premiere of Ron Howard's new Beatles documentary, Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years. This exclusive fundraiser, on Thursday September 15, honors teachers and benefits the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation.
Ticket packages are still available: see teachrock.org for details.
SEPTEMBER 7, PHILLY 1: BRING HIM BACK, PHILADELPHIA!
Last night, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band began the final week of The River Tour 2016 by returning to Pennsylvania, the state where it all began. It was the first of two Philadelphia shows in the Phillies' ballpark, to be followed by a return on Sunday to Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, January's tour opener, before ending the tour in Boston next Wednesday.
At this point, The River Tour 2016 has morphed into something very different, at least in terms of Bruce's choice of material. In that sense, it's now pretty much The River Tour 2016 in name only, with only two songs from The River being performed last night, as was also the case with the preceding Virginia Beach show. The spirit behind this tour, however, remains very much intact. Each night, Bruce and the band continue to present much of his classic material from various phases of his career. None of these songs are new, of course, but many new shades of meaning, connections and musical approaches continue to be found. And most important of all, Springsteen and the E Streeters are still firing on all cylinders, delivering some of their best performances ever.
Returning to Philly, a town that has showered Bruce with much love and support since his recording career began, always raises expectations, and they certainly were met last night. Springsteen not only set a new record for longest North American show (for the fourth time in two weeks), but he did it with the first half of the show consisting solely of songs he recorded for his first two albums.
The evening began with members of the evening's string section taking their seats before Bruce and the band took the stage, signaling that they would once again open the show with a gorgeous version of "New York City Serenade," a hallmark of this leg. On a beautiful late-summer Philly night, a ballpark filled with thousands of concert-goers immediately felt as if it were transformed into the legendary Main Point, the long-gone Philly-area club that served as one of Springsteen's earliest venues for his many legendary local shows. Following "Serenade" with a hard-driving version of "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" kept the time-machine vibe going, and that vibe continued for the next two hours or so as each 1972-'74-era song was performed.
This was not, however, a mere nostalgia trip. With his much-anticipated Born to Run autobiography just weeks away from publication, and its recently previewed foreword focusing on the "why" of what he does as an artist, this lengthy portion of the show seemed designed to highlight (for what is now a large, multi-generational audience) the depth and vision Bruce already had even as a young songwriter, and how that vision remains connected to his later work.
It also helps greatly, of course, that this material holds up so damn well, especially with the live arrangements utilized last night. These sprawling songs really showcase the interplay and performance prowess of the E Street Band, with Roy Bittan a particular standout. It seemed like everybody in the crowd, no matter what their age or history with this phase of Bruce's career, couldn't help but dig "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City," "Growin' Up" (which included a full "There I was..." story about the meaning and importance of Bruce's first guitar,) "The E Street Shuffle," the one-two punch of "Incident on 57th Street" straight into "Rosalita," etc. (Well, almost everybody, with almost every song. I must confess that while I love the album version of "Kitty's Back," when it comes to all of that extended soloing on the live version, my personal take is if I wanted that much noodling with my Springsteen music, I'd have brought some ramen with me to the tailgate. Your mileage may vary, of course.) They capped off this lengthy stretch with two tour debut Philly specials, "Thundercrack" and the sign-requested "The Fever."
After a hard-rocking "Night" moved the time-travel controls a bit forward into 1975 territory, the second half of the evening was a much more heterogeneous mix of material that moved both backward and forward through various albums and eras. Nevertheless, the thematic connections remained strong throughout the evening. When Bruce sang of "these romantic dreams in my head" in "No Surrender," I couldn't help but think back to all of that romanticism in the early material we'd just heard in the first half. And how could the moralistic railing against religious hypocrisy, war and violence in "Lost in the Flood" not be linked to the righteous indignation of "Death to My Hometown" and the heartbreaking mass of contradictions and denial in "Jack of All Trades" (in its beautiful, new strings-and-harmonica arrangement), especially since they all flowed from the same songwriter's pens? For that matter, even "closets are for hangers" in "Rosalita" could be linked to the plea, sung in the encore, to not "leave each other alone like this on the streets of Philadelphia," especially given the somewhat bewildered depictions of queer culture found in some of Springsteen's early work.
Lest we sat (or stood) around thinkin' about all of this high-falutin' stuff a bit too much, the evening also was filled with plenty of healthy, off-the-charts joy and frivolity. Highlights included Bruce rocking a straw cowboy hat during "Darlington County" and "Working on the Highway," an ingenious Kevin Buell impersonator (go Emily!) pulled onstage during "Dancing in the Dark" (to the delight of everyone — possibly even Mr. Buell himself, who danced with her like a good sport), and a wonderful new twist on the whole James Brown/Elvis-influenced cape routine during "Shout." Stevie Van Zandt offered his best take on the late, great announcer Al Dvorin, who immortalized the phrase "Elvis has left the building" by announcing it at the end of each evening during Elvis Presley's 1970s concert tours. "The Boss has left the building," announced Stevie gravely after helping an "exhausted" Bruce descend the steps off stage with his "The Boss" cape draped over his shoulders. The giant video screens revealed Bruce sitting on the steps, listening intently for the crowd's response. "Wait a minute," Stevie said. "He's hiding in the stairwell. Bring him back! Bring him back! Bring him back, Philadelphia!"
And we did, of course. All in all, one of the best shows I've ever seen by anyone, let alone Bruce. Thanks for letting us bring you and your great band back to Philly, Boss. See y'all again tomorrow night.
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- September 8, 2016 - Shawn Poole reporting - photographs by Joe Papeo/irocktheshot.com
SEPTEMBER 5: GREETINGS FROM VIRGINIA BEACH, V.A.
When the storm was rolling into Virginia Beach late last week, we were advised that the Bruce Springsteen concert was the only event not cancelled at the time — and we knew we were in for a good show. When Saturday's show was eventually rescheduled, we knew we were in for an even better one come Monday night. We were not disappointed. Clocking in at 3:49 and 32 songs, the makeup show at Veterans Home Loan United Amphitheater took its rightful place in line as another great "quality show" on this leg, even if the quantity was a bit smaller than the recent recordbreakers. But just a bit. Bruce and the band were embraced by the fans waiting and believing we'd be getting some magic — and of course we did.
For the first hour, the show felt more like he was touring behind Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. (and wonderfully so) than the advertised The River. As I noticed the string section was not present for the evening, Bruce came out alone for a soft opener — something besides "New York City Serenade" for the first time on this leg. Instead, he settled in at Roy Bittan's piano to start with a solo "For You." For the full-band hard opener, "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?" was on point — and it was the second of what would be six straight songs from Greetings. Where better than a beach town?
As Roy played the familiar beginning notes of "Growin' Up," you could feel the energy of the crowd practically bursting. Reflecting once again on his now-legendary 1972 audition for John Hammond at Columbia, Springsteen was really throwing us back to a time in his early career when Virginia was a home away from home. As the band rolled into "Spirit in the Night," the fifth song from the debut album, the crowd was ready for their audience-participation role. As always, Bruce was very interactive with the crowd, and they gave it right back to him ten-fold. The required response of "all night!" resonated throughout the amphitheater.
Number six was "Lost in the Flood." I was surprised there weren't more rain-related songs played this evening — but was this one played! From there into "Kitty's Back," we were leaving the Greetings album and stepping into The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle with no idea how far we would go into Springsteen's second album of 1973.
Pretty far, it turned out, with four out of its seven tracks following right in a row. After "Kitty" was the tour premier of "The E Street Shuffle," Bruce looking around for guidance as to what key he needed to be in. The highlight for me was seeing Garry Tallent singing some back-up, as he also would again on "Rosie"… but not before "Incident," of course. "Incident" going straight into "Rosie" was a heart stopping moment. It's always a treat to hear "Rosie" early in a show, but when you hear it coming right out of "Incident," one can't help but feel blown away. Seeing Garry make his way to center stage again for this song made most around me literally do a double-take to see if this was really happening.
Being in Clarence Clemons' old stomping grounds was not lost on anyone around me. As I was reflecting on how this past Sunday was the anniversary of the first time Bruce and Clarence played together some 45 years ago, I believe you could hear a giant sigh come over Bruce as he brought up The Big Man and his roots in Virginia.
Bruce took a good walk around, looking for signs to fill the next hour or so. First up, a sign request for a full-band "Thunder Road" — for a marriage proposal, no less. Rather than heading over to each end of stage during the last bit of this song as usual, Bruce and Jake remained on the center platform to help celebrate with the couple that just got engaged. From there we were treated to a slowed down, bluesy version of "Pink Cadillac" — only the second time performed on this tour, another sign request. A little storytelling had Bruce comparing ancient Mesopotamia and South Jersey, as well as telling the crowd just what Eve really accomplished by pulling the apple from the tree.
Introducing "Save My Love," Bruce namechecked Lonnie Donegan and reminisced of days long ago, when he'd walk the streets late at night with his transistor radio. "The streets were all mine," he said. He found it almost impossible that anyone in the audience would remember those tiny transistor radios.
"We got a little something for you today," Springsteen told the crowd after a "Candy's Room"/"She's the One" combo, introducing the tour premiere of "Factory" in recognition of Labor Day. Also in the back half of the set, Bruce remembered The River with "Hungry Heart (including the return of the crowd surf) and "Out in the Street." "Mary's Place" made a rare appeareance, as it did when they last played Virginia Beach in 2014 (when Bruce called it "some beach music of our own"), though this time he had to ask the band to "stop the fucking music!" "Because the Night" was accompanied of course by a breathtaking solo from Nils Lofgren, and "Land of Hope and Dreams" closed the main set.
In the encore, "Backstreets" was followed by the usual suspects. "Dancing in the Dark" gave me flashbacks to April's cowgirl fest in Dallas. But Bruce closed the show much like he opened it, all by himself. This time on acoustic guitar, he gave us a stunning "This Hard Land" to say goodbye, played often this summer in Europe but a U.S. tour premiere.
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- September 6, 2016 - Ali Scales reporting - photographs by Jerry Frishman
SPRINGSTEEN "GOES THERE" WITH VANITY FAIR ON NEW MEMOIR
Thirty-two years after photographing Bruce Springsteen in front of an American flag — an image you may be familiar with — Annie Leibovitz does it again for the cover of Vanity Fair. That's just one of many highlights of the October 2016 issue, with a hefty Springsteen cover story by David Kamp. Kamp spoke with Bruce this summer for the piece (as well as with Steve Van Zandt, Jon Landau, and Patti Scialfa), focusing largely on the forthcoming Born to Run memoir (which Kamp has read). "I knew I was gonna 'go there' in the book," Springsteen says. "I had to find the roots of my own troubles and issues — and the joyful things that have allowed me to put on the kind of shows that we put on."
The cover reads, "In An Astonishing New Memoir, Springsteen Bares His Soul And Art" — and the revealing discussion in this interview alone suggests that isn't just hyperbole. The cover story (with additional Leibovitz images) was posted online today.
We'll let you take the story's insights and revelations as they come. But just for logistics' sake it's worth noting this bit of news: Kamp writes, "the River Tour '16 will be swiftly followed by a series of promotional dates for Born to Run, the book. A publisher's dream, Springsteen has committed to a multitude of promotional and in-store appearances...."
More here as we know it.
- September 6, 2016
2017 CALENDAR IN STOCK NOW
Frank Stefanko's "Corvette Winter" image is really getting a workout this fall, as the cover for Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run autobiography... the Chapter and Verse collection... and now the new official calendar from Thrill Hill.
Like the forthcoming memoir and album, the 2017 calendar is a career-spanning production, with four decades of photos from Stefanko, David Gahr, Joel Bernstein, Pam Springsteen, Jo Lopez, Anton Corbijn, and Danny Clinch. It's also an 18-month calendar, so you can start using it immediately.
IN THE EYE OF A HURRICANE THERE IS QUIET
Viriginia Beach concert rescheduled from tonight to Monday
As announced this morning, concerns regarding Tropical Storm Hermine
have bumped tonight's concert at Virginia Beach by two days, now to take place on Labor Day, Monday, September 5. The same tickets may be used for entry, or refunds are also available.
This is the second storm delay of the tour, after a Madison Square Garden date had to be postponed due to a January blizzard. Today's announcement from Live Nation:
SEPTEMBER 1, WASHINGTON DC: IF IT AIN'T BROKE...
How do you follow the show heard 'round the world? That was the question facing Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band for their stop at Nationals Park in America's capitol, a mere two days after their instantly legendary concert at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium on Tuesday. They provided an answer almost immediately: simply do it all over again. Instead of resting on their laurels, they put on another whopping 34-song, 3:45 extravaganza that was every bit as impressive as — and closely followed the template of — its Garden State predecessor.
The similarities began from the start with "New York City Serenade" accompanied by a string section. Though their recent performances of this masterpiece have been uniformly majestic, they somehow keep upping their game (due in no small part here to Nationals Park's crystal clear sound, with the exception of a few sporadic echoes). Bruce repeated a few lines in an effective bit of spoken word delivery during the orchestral sections. As he and the band become more comfortable with the song's nuances, their renditions have gotten increasingly looser, allowing the song more room to breathe.
This held true for a majority of the night's performances, especially for those rarities played in Jersey that made reprisals here: the E Street Band repeatedly improves upon their own high standards when they get to revisit a seldom-played gem multiple times, especially when they're as totally locked-in as they were in DC. This phenomenon was on display for "Summertime Blues" — a fitting choice for this balmy summer night in an outdoor baseball stadium, the first venue of the tour that houses America's favorite summer sport — but really showcased over the stretch beginning with "Growin' Up." That sign request kicked off eight consecutive songs predating Born to Run. All but one of them ("Lost in the Flood") also made appearances at MetLife 3 and were somehow given superior performances here. Bruce even added an introduction to "It's Hard to Be a Saint in the City":
"This is the song I sang to John Hammond when I went up to his office to audition for him at Columbia Records. I wrote it in an abandoned beauty parlor on the mean streets of Asbury Park…. Well, not so mean; just unkind."
This story served as a reminder of the stark differences between the recorded versions of many of these early songs and their live counterparts. Whereas Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. sounds folksy, acoustic, and very guitar-lite, its songs become dynamically alive in concert thanks to the full power of the E Street Band, which Bruce gives ample time to shine through a plethora of solos, most notably on "Bus Stop." Despite Mr. Hammond diminishing the sonic role that Bruce wanted guitars to play on the album, they are the most remarkable aspect of these live renditions, from Bruce's introductory licks in "Growin' Up" to his duel with Stevie at the end of "Saint in the City." Stevie even added some nice fills over Max's opening drumbeat on "Spirit in the Night."
Bruce's blistering guitar work on "Lost in the Flood," a searing solo to close the song, proved a breathtakingly perfect — let me repeat: perfect — lead-in to the guitar-heavy, walloping Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle three-pack of "Kitty's Back," "Incident on 57th Street," and "Rosalita." The beloved transition from "Incident" into "Rosie" hinges upon the differentiated tempos between Bruce's gorgeous yet somber playing during the former and the rollicking wall of guitars in the latter, crucially connected by Roy's coda. Bruce's guitar prowess on "Lost" and "Kitty" added greater fuel to this glorious shift. Ultimately, the slow, intense burn that is "Incident" feels like a dynamite fuse leading to the rock 'n' roll explosion that is "Rosie," the combination of which worked this very strong crowd into an absolute frenzy.
Yet instead of slowing down the pace like he did with "Pretty Flamingo" on Tuesday, Bruce built upon the unbridled momentum of "Rosie" with "Night," a sign request for "Trapped," and the only tour premiere — and my personal highlight — of the night: "Better Days." It was only the fourth E Street Band performance of this song in America in the 21st century. Even so, their execution made it sound like a tour staple, and the crowd actually ate it up as such. Combined with "Living Proof," these top-shelf renderings will hopefully convince Bruce that he should delve further into his underrated early-'90s albums, which contain some of his most soulful, emotionally autobiographical writing.
After Bruce made time for a social statement with "American Skin" mere blocks away from the Capitol Building in America's political center, the remainder of the setlist actually felt like an elongated encore, full of warhorses and greatest hits. Two standout exceptions: "Secret Garden," another one building on its surprise appearance at MetLife 3; and the more-than-welcome return of "Seven Nights to Rock," which raucously elevated the actual encores.
Even the more conventional second half had its fair share of memorable moments. Bruce was given flowers during "Hungry Heart," and he then threw them to an ecstatic little girl in the front row (she was later invited on stage for "Dancing in the Dark"). Jake seemingly forgot to join Bruce on the mid-audience platform for "Hungry Heart," so he had to play his solo while sprinting around the pit; he soon got a chance to redeem himself by singing Soozie's part on "Out in the Street." Nils sang an entire verse of "Darlington County" by himself, and Patti elevated "Because the Night" with her unique vocal stylings. Jake literally made it rain with his "Jungleland" solo. Bruce decided to lie down on the back stairs instead of leaving the stage for his exhausted, James Brown-cape-shtick during "Shout" — needless to say, the man deserved a break after this phenomenal run of shows.
Speaking of which, everyone is going to ask the obvious question: was MetLife 3 or DC better? Honestly, it's a complete toss-up. The oldies seemed to resonate more in Jersey, because they're so inextricably linked with his early career and locales only a few miles away from the stadium. And of course there was more novelty in experiencing the '73 stretch without having any idea what would come next ("Incident" into "Rosie," for instance, didn't have quite the same wow effect the second time… but it was still amazing because, you know, "Incident" into "Rosie" is "Incident" into "Rosie"). On the other hand, the performances in Washington were more refined and hard-hitting, not to mention the vastly improved sound and louder (albeit equally yappy) crowd.
But really, does it honestly matter which is "better"? That's like choosing between your two favorite children. What interests me is why Bruce has suddenly felt compelled to reach way back into his past by so heavily relying on his first two records. The answer, I believe, brilliantly conforms to the original purpose of this tour. During the full album performances of The River — which has largely been left behind on this leg, with only three songs from it being played here — Bruce and the band were making a 35-year-old record come alive again in such a vital way that so many of its songs and themes felt pressingly relevant today. Now that they're reaching the end of this tour, they're making even older music feel even fresher in the midst of epic-beyond-epic concerts that'd make you believe they're just now entering the dawn of their career instead of the dusk. In doing so, they hopefully allow themselves and the crowd to feel as young as they were back in 1973, except with the knowledge and experience that only time can bring. Youth and wisdom are often oxymoronic, but in Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's world, that's the type of combination only rock 'n' roll can provide… every night.
For the full setlist and reports from this and other recent shows,
see our Setlists page
- September 2, 2016 - Steven Strauss reporting - photographs by Guy Aceto
MEADOWLANDS DOWNLOADS GETTING FAST-TRACKED
Describing the recent trio of concerts at MetLife Stadium as "destined to be the most famous and classic shows of the whole River Tour," live.springsteen.net has announced that these three late-August recordings are being fast-tracked in the ongoing download series: "We are mixing the shows right now and hope to release all three on Monday 9/12, jumping ahead of the remaining European shows." Purchase the shows here, individually or at a discount in a three-night bundle. For those ordering physical media, the CDs (12 of them!) will ship in October. - September 1, 2016 - photograph by A.M. Saddler [8/30/16]
SPRINGSTEEN TALKS WRITING BTR, BOOK, FINDING HIS VOICE
In a new video posted today, we hear Bruce Springsteen talking about writing his memoir, an effort that he began in 2009.
He describes it as "very similar to the songwriting process," in terms of the number of drafts he goes through, and suggests that the more recently something happened, the more challenging it is to write about. Born to Run is divided chronologically into three sections, and Bruce says, "The hardest part was the third book, where you had to write about the present, because it's all people you're living with in your life today." Watch below.
Pre-order Born to Run from Backstreet Records, by itself or in bundles with Chapter and Verse, to receive a FREE bonus Born to Run promo poster. - September 1, 2016
NEW 'ROCK AND ROLL FUTURE' BUNDLE Our book on Bruce's legendary Harvard Square Theatre '74 concert is now available with a LIMITED EDITION 8x10 PRINT of Springsteen from that very night, by photographer Barry Schneier. IN STOCK NOW
Backstreet Records is the mailorder division of Backstreets, delivering Springsteen merchandise to fans for more than 25 years. We carry numerous collectibles, tour shirts, books, magazines, and imported CDs and records.
The world's best selection of Springsteen collectibles, all available by mail.
Jamie Fewery on "The Boss and me: how Bruce Springsteen brought my family together [Telegraph.co.uk]
Kevin Buell: Springsteen's Longtime Right-Hand Man [Takamine]
Caryn Rose on "Bruce Springsteen and the Political Tour That Wasn't" [MTV News]
Steve & Maureen Van Zandt to be honored 9/25 at Rockit Live Foundation inaugural gala
More with Bruce from David Kamp at Vanity Fair: "Will Bruce Springsteen Ever Downsize to (Gulp) Mere Two-Hour Shows?"
Our pal Barry Schneier featured in the Boston Globe: "Photographer who shot iconic Springsteen image all those years ago is seeing the Boss at Gillette"
Springsteen and depression: 10 songs in which it's a recurring theme [NJArts.net] The Onion reports on a new study
For last show of the leg, Foxborough curfew extended by 15 minutes [Boston.com]
We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:
Joe D'Urso... and more.
For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.
Many from the Springsteen community banded together to preserve this Asbury Park landmark.... and Tillie has now been saved!
Check our Save Tillie page for the latest developments.
THE SPRINGSTEEN SPECIAL COLLECTION
Organized by Backstreets in 2001, this storehouse of Boss books and magazines is the largest such collection outside of Bruce's mother's basement. Thanks to the generosity of fans around the world, total holdings are now well over 11,000. But the collection is by no means complete.