BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – ” Springsteen on Broadway “

Posted: June 28, 2021 in MUSIC

Bruce Springsteen said that he didn’t expect to make any major changes to “Springsteen on Broadway” in its second run. But he has rethought that.

The opening night show, June 26th at the St. James Theatre (which also was the first Broadway show of any kind since the start of the pandemic), didn’t just feature three songs not included in the original, 2017-2018 run. There also were changes to the script and, most important, a more emotional, more dynamic approach to the material.

Maybe it’s because the St. James is almost twice as large as the Walter Kerr Theatre, which hosted the original run, and Springsteen feels the need to reach out to those sitting far away. Or maybe it has to do with the joy of returning to performing for live audiences for the first time in more than a year. But Springsteen seems much more animated, this time around.

In 2017 and 2018, he projected intensity and focus throughout the show. But now he seems to have regained some of the crowd-pleasing abandon that was a trademark of his arena and stadium shows of his past.

You really have the full range of Springsteen here, from clowning to storytelling so deeply affecting he was wiping the tears from his eyes. More often than before, he is using a loud, commanding tone — preacher mode, more or less, even if the words aren’t sermon-like. Also more often than before, he creates intimacy by standing far from the mike while speaking or singing — and still managing to project his voice throughout the large theatre

He often got extremely wistful, at this show, when talking about the past. But he also broke from the script several times to ask fans applauding too long to “shut the fuck up,” or to refrain from cheering when the name of their hometown was mentioned. “Don’t do that!” he barked. “Your town probably sucks, just like mine.”

More genially, he talked about how he has kept busy throughout the pandemic with a variety of projects, and about how great it was to see people sitting next to each other in a theater, maskless. And he joked about his DUI charge, which was dropped earlier this year after he agreed to pay a fine. ” ‘The United States of America vs. Bruce Springsteen’ … that’s always comfortable to hear,” he deadpanned.

The three new songs served different purposes.

“Fire,” performed as a steamy duet with Patti Scialfa, added a playful element to the show, with the spouses flirting with each other as they shared a mic. Scialfa also sang part of the song on her own, giving her a moment in the spotlight that the earlier shows lacked. (Springsteen also made sure to plug her upcoming solo album.)

“American Skin (41 Shots)” made a connection to George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in a more concrete way than the song it replaced, “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” could.

And “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” which closed the show, served as a hopeful, uplifting cap to an evening filled with stories about deceased family members and friends, and also gave hardcore fans the opportunity to hear a Springsteen song they had never heard in person before. (It’s from Springsteen’s “Letter to You” album, released during the pandemic.)

Here is the June 26th setlist:

“Growin’ Up”
“My Hometown”
“My Father’s House”
“The Wish”
“Thunder Road”
“The Promised Land”
“Born in the USA”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-out”
“Tougher Than the Rest (with Patti Scialfa)
“Fire” (with Patti Scialfa)
“American Skin (41 Shots)”
“The Rising”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Land of Hope and Dreams”
“I’ll See You in My Dreams”

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