Posts Tagged ‘E.Street Band’

Almost nothing is known about Bruce Springsteen’s follow up to 2019’s Western Stars, including any timeframe for its release, but he’s indicated that it’s a collection of rock songs recorded with the E Street Band. Last year, he told Martin Scorsese that the songs came to him after a long period where he found himself unable to write for a rock band. “It just came out of almost nowhere,” he said. “And it was good. I had about two weeks of those little daily visitations [of songs], and it was so nice. It makes you so happy. You go, ‘Fuck, I’m not fucked, all right?’”

Bruce Springsteen will release Letter to You, a new rock album recorded live in his New Jersey home studio with the members of the E Street Band, The title track is also the first single and is available now.

“I love the emotional nature of Letter To You,” he said in a statement. “And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”

In addition to nine new songs, the album also includes fresh recordings of three songs that predate Springsteen’s 1973 debut album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.: “Janey Needs A Shooter,” “If I Was the Priest” and “Song for Orphans.” Assuming Springsteen keeps the lyrics from the early bootlegged versions, “If I Was the Priest” (covered by Hollies singer Allan Clarke in the Seventies) is a sacrilegious fantasy (“If Jesus was the sheriff and I was the priest/If my lady was an heiress and my mama was a thief”), while “Song for Orphans” is a Dylan-esque tale of “aimless quest-less renegade brats who live their lives in songs,” and “Janey” is a slightly twisted love song.

Springsteen wrote at least some of Letters to You last spring, judging from comments he made in a public conversation with Martin Scorsese last year.  “I couldn’t write anything for the band,” he said. “And I said, ‘Well, of course … you’ll never be able to do that again!’ And it’s a trick every time you do it, you know? But it’s a trick that, because of that fact that you can’t explain, cannot be self-consciously duplicated. It has to come to you in inspiration. And then about a month or so ago, I wrote almost an album’s worth of material for the band. And it came out of just… I mean, I know where it came from, but at the same time, it just came out of almost nowhere. And it was good, you know. I had about two weeks of those little daily visitations, and it was so nice. It makes you so happy.

Release date: on October 23rd

bruce springsteen letter to you album cover

After putting out Magic in September 2007 and touring it for the better part of 12 months, Bruce began 2009 with the drop of another studio album, Working on a Dream, followed a week later by the band’s Super Bowl, his most widely viewed performance ever. Barely catching their breath, Springsteen and the band kicked off the WOAD tour on April 1st, which would run through November .

Nassau Coliseum 4th May 2009 presents the first opportunity in the archive series to revisit the WOAD tour in its purest form, the first leg, before the full-album shows of the fall and on a night when Max Weinberg played drums the entire performance. Max’s son Jay had been drafted to take his sticks while the Mighty One was fulfilling his day job leading the house band for Conan O’Brien’s short-lived stint hostingThe Tonight Show. Because he was training his understudy, Max shared the drum stool with Jay for the preceding eight concerts. Max’s full participation at Nassau may be one of the factors energizing this excellent performance which offers a winsome mix of recent material, welcome returns, and a few true surprises.

The first half of the show is straight fire. There’s a real sense of purpose and focus right out of the gate with a punchy “Badlands” straight into “No Surrender.” Familiar territory, yet sounding mighty fresh indeed, buoyed by the E Street Band in especially fine voice (a good example of details you can only hear in the archive series recordings). Listen for lovely vocals from Soozie and Patti at the top of “No Surrender” and clear evidence of the night’s high spirits: after Bruce sings “Hearts of fire grow cold,” Clarence shouts an affirmative, “YEAH!”

With the show clipping along, Bruce goes all-in for “Outlaw Pete,” and damn if it doesn’t work, as his conviction brings the hokum narrative to life. Springsteen and the band have a rollicking good romp through the mini Western epic, and there’s even a quick nod to “Be True” in the final solo.

A snappy “She’s the One” makes an unusually early and appreciated appearance in the set, continuing the cool E Street vibes. Like “Outlaw Pete,” Bruce digs deep for “Working on a Dream” in what has to be one of the best versions of the song, sounding vital and rich, once again resplendent with background vocals from the band. One of the tour’s hallmarks was Springsteen’s preacher rap in the middle of the title track, and his gospel will surely move you, especially with the The Big Man’s call-and-response intonations so clear and heartfelt.

“Seeds” made a much-appreciated reappearance in 2009, the first E Street Band turn for the song since the Tunnel of Love Express Tour and played in a potent, straightforward arrangement that wraps with inspired guitar soloing. “Johnny 99” marks another WOAD tour return in a full-band version that bears an unmistakable Jerry Lee Lewis flavor. There’s no mistaking the blast the band is having, with Nils taking a sinewy slide guitar solo and Soozie and Patti singing sweet, train whistle “Woo Hoo”s.

Six-string pyrotechnics continue with a showcase for Lofgren on “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” completing the so-called “recession pack” of songs that started with “Seeds.” Thanks to Jon Altschiller’s revealing mix, the song is also a showcase for Roy Bittan, who, unbeknownst to most of us until now, plays a beautiful piano part behind Nils’ soaring solo. Another distinguishing feature of the WOAD tour was the impact of song-request signs made by the audience. The acknowledgment of these signs organically evolved the show to feature a moment where, during “Raise Your Hand,” Bruce collected signs and decided what requests to grant. Kismet was definitely in play for the first request granted, the one and to-date only performance of “Expressway to Your Heart,” a minor hit for the Soul Survivors in 1967 written by the legendary Philadelphia songwriting and producing team Gamble & Huff. Anticipating the request, Springsteen and the band rehearsed and sound checked the song, which helps explain why their one-off version is so bloody good.

Bruce has a rich history of covering minor hits (“Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,” “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” “Mountain of Love”) and making them his own, and “Expressway to Your Heart” joins the pantheon of the best of them. With its irresistible hook and infectious chorus, the song is an instant E Street classic cover worth the price of admission. The request section goes from strength to strength as a well-oiled “For You” follows “Expressway,” then the tour premiere of “Rendezvous,” an asset to any set list. This wonderful sequence concludes with a fizzing version of “Night.” What more could you want?

The back nine of Nassau holds up its end of the bargain, too. Some consider “The Wrestler” to be the signature performance on this leg of the tour, and the case is made strongly tonight. The song’s rustic, fleeting majesty is on full display (does anyone else hear hints of U2’s “Kite”?), with Bruce’s voice rough-edged and full of emotion. In hindsight, the story told by “The Wrestler” echoes some of the sentiment expressed first-person in Bruce’s autobiography and Broadway show.

Beckoning Patti to the mic, Bruce changes the mood with a soaring “Kingdom of Days,” pledging his partnership in full voice in this underappreciated song, rare for celebrating love not at its inception, but further on up the road.

A trio of 2000s songs (“Radio Nowhere,” “Lonesome Day” and “The Rising”) carries us to “Born to Run” and the encore, where Bruce speaks nostalgically about how “these old buildings” — arenas like Nassau Coliseum, the Spectrum in Philadelphia, and the Sports Arena in Los Angeles — are “great concert halls” that are being torn down one by one. Springsteen’s history in Nassau Coliseum alone, site of the epic New Year’s Eve 1980 set among others, is significant and resonates through this final performance in the original arena which has since been renovated. The encore ends, as it should, in joy mode, with “Dancing in the Dark” (in which Garry Talent keeps the time very tight indeed) and “Rosalita.” And surely any performance of “Jungleland” from Clarence’s final tour should be treasured. But it is the first line of a song unique to the WOAD tour, “Hard Times (Come Again No More),” that lingers: “Let us pause in life’s pleasures and count its many tears.”

Following Bruce’s comments about the value of old buildings like Nassau Coliseum and his suggestion to the audience to support Long Island Cares (founded by Harry Chapin), the sentiment of “Hard Times” — making its live archive debut here — is fitting. In early 2020, a time marked by national travails and reminders of how precious and fleeting life can be, the 166-year-old lyric sounds even more like a directive all should heed.

Bruce Springsteen – Lead vocal, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica; Roy Bittan – Piano, keyboards, accordion; Clarence Clemons – Tenor and baritone saxophones, percussion, backing vocal; Charlie Giordano – Organ, keyboards, accordion; Nils Lofgren – Electric and acoustic guitars, backing vocal; Patti Scialfa – Electric and acoustic guitars; backing vocal; Garry Tallent – Bass; Stevie Van Zandt – Electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, backing vocal; Max Weinberg: Drums; Curtis King: Backing vocal, tambourine; Cindy Mizelle: Backing vocal; tambourine; Soozie Tyrell – Violin, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocal

Words by Erik Flannigan

The Live Series: Songs of Friendship

In December, Columbia Legacy Recordings surprised Bruce Springsteen fans with a digital album of live rarities called The Live Series: Songs of  the Road.  Now, The Live Series continues with Songs of Friendship, which brings even more rarities to digital and streaming for the first time ever.  Culled from Springsteen’s extensive vault of live material that was previously only available from the on-demand site, the 15-track set spotlights iconic tracks about the unbreakable bonds of friendship.

While the previous volume mixed solo and E Street Band recordings, Songs of Friendship fittingly features only band performances.  Four decades’ worth of live greatness is on-display here, from the rousing New Year’s ’75 version of “Spirit in the Night” and the East Rutherford 1984 take on “Glory Days,” to the sparse “If I Should Fall Behind” from 2014 and the 2017 outing of the obscure “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart.”  Altogether, the collection is a testament to the power of Springsteen’s live shows, the talents of The E Street Band, and the enduring quality of these songs.  So take a listen and share it with a friend or blood brother.

The collection is available now from digital download and streaming services, including Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.

Bruce SpringsteenThe Live Series:  Songs of Friendship (Columbia/Legacy, 2019)

Bruce Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town': 10 Things You Didn't Know

On June 2nd, 1978, Bruce Springsteen released the album Darkness on the Edge of Town his first since 1975’s Born to Run had made him a big draw, it arrived after a lengthy lawsuit with his former manager Mike Appel where he was unable to enter a recording studio.

With three years on the sidelines because of the lawsuit with Appel an eternity at that time for a musician – Springsteen has said that he felt he needed to reintroduce himself. To make another dense record rooted in rock’s past,  In the three years between Born to Run and Darkness, he’d simply learned a lot and during this time he played some of the best live shows of his career. He spent a great deal of time in court, for one thing; he began listening to Hank Williams and old-time, class-conscious country music. He’d seen the films of John Ford and Howard Hawks and John Huston, and read the novels of John Steinbeck and John Dos Passos that Jon Landau had given him. The concerns of the lower-middle class became the concerns about which he began feeling most passionate, and those things are reflected in his writing, and his writing became more compact and direct as a result.

Although the lyrics didn’t directly reference the suit, his bitterness showed in the songwriting. Gone was the cinematic romanticism of his first three albums, replaced by stark portraits of blue-collar American life that would form the basis of Springsteen’s writing for the next decade.

Darkness On The Edge reached No. 5 on the Billboard albums chart, and the tour, where he and the E Street Band made their first ventures into headlining arenas, The tour solidified his reputation as one of the most exciting live acts in rock n’ roll. Many of its tracks, including “Badlands,” “The Promised Land” and “Prove It All Night” as well as the outtake “Because the Night” have still to this day continued to play an important role in his concerts to this day.

But the 10 songs released on Darkness represented a fraction of the music recorded for the album, with 57 song known titles recorded during the sessions, . Is “Darkness on the Edge of Town” Bruce Springsteen’s best album?.

Several other artists wound up benefiting from his surplus; Southside Johnny, Robert Gordon, Greg Kihn and Gary U.S. Bonds all recorded songs from this period that Springsteen felt didn’t jibe with the album’s bleak mood. But while “Prove It All Night” was the only single , two artists enjoyed massive hit smashes with his Darkness castoffs: The Pointer Sisters went all the way to Number Two with their recording of “Fire” – a song Springsteen claimed to have originally written in 1977 for Elvis Presley and Patti Smith scored the biggest hit single of her career with “Because the Night,” which reached  Number Five in the U.K charts.

Smith, who was recording her album Easter with Jimmy Iovine at the same time the latter was working on Darkness, took the unfinished “Because the Night” and added a verse inspired by her long-distance relationship with future husband Fred “Sonic” Smith. “I knew that I wasn’t going to finish the song, because it was a love song, and I really felt like I didn’t know how to write them at the time,” Springsteen recalled in The Promise, explaining his decision to give the song to Smith. “A real love song like ‘Because the Night,’ I was reticent to write; I think I was too cowardly to write at the time. But she was very brave. She had the courage.”

Darkness is the first Springsteen album where he sounds like the Springsteen whose legend was secured around this time. Springsteen finally found a way to match the yearning of youth with a grounded sense of adult experience, and it happened toward the end of a period of broad excess when the genre so badly needed it. The production is a wonder of amalgamation, too: He melded the West Coast’s spacious, very polished style with the power and force of Middle American and punk rock.

By the summer of 1977, the E Street Band – then consisting of guitarist Miami Steve Van Zandt, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, pianist Roy Bittan, organist Danny Federici, bassist Garry Tallent and drummer Max Weinberg  had become a road-hardened unit capable of bending almost telepathically to any of Springsteen’s musical whims, so it made perfect sense for Springsteen to record the songs for Darkness live in the studio with his band. Unfortunately, Springsteen’s endless search for the ultimate sound completely counteracted any efficiency that might have otherwise resulted from such an arrangement. Unhappy with the sounds they were getting at New York’s Atlantic Studios, Springsteen moved the recording sessions to the Record Plant, where he, co-producer Jon Landau and engineer Jimmy Iovine spent interminable weeks trying to capture the perfect drum sound.

Every song on the first side has a corresponding track on the second in the same sequence. “Badlands” and “The Promised Land” are about America, “Adam Raised a Cain” and “Factory” are about father-son relationships and so on.

Darkness on the Edge of Town is consistently among my top album from Springsteen’s catalog. I think the excruciating editing process he went through with this album speaks volumes about the focus and quality of the story he was telling at that time. What is the best song on the record?

As the opening song, “Badlands” not only sets the tone for everything that follows, it’s also a hell of an introduction to the album with those massive drums barreling into the picture. Every song on the album, more or less, stems from “Badlands.”

 “Racing in the Street,” because it turns the bombast of what came before completely inside out. If Born to Run was about the desperate desire to be free of your old life, your hometown and every preconceived notion, this album – and, my goodness, this song – was about what happens to those who were left behind. Even the expected early-career “car songs” tend to feature people lost in a cul-de-sac of regret. “Racing in the Street” is my favorite song by anybody. it was the perfect anthem  cruising around town, only realizing later that it had this other meaning. How anyone can comprehend how Springsteen wrote that last verse, given that he hadn’t yet been in a serious relationship. “Racing in the Street” and “Darkness on the Edge of Town.” The story he tells in the former is so specific and evocative that it really haunts the listener. That’s why it’s not even surprising when the couple from “Racing” ages a decade or two, and reappears, as I see it, in “Darkness.” Springsteen couldn’t get them out of his head any more than I could, and the stunning outro gives the listener time to contemplate their fate. It also remains phenomenal to me that early versions of the song didn’t even include the little girl he drove away.

“Racing in the Street” is a great narrative and a great song. The lyrics speak of desolation, lost chances and the things the desperate do just to live, both in the world and with themselves. Springsteen gives those words life and breath, and puts his voice in the middle of it all; there’s no separating it from either the story or the telling of it. The music is stark and brooding — it’s a keyboard song on a guitar album, and Roy Bittan and Danny Federici refuse to leaven the mood as they might on other songs. Bittan’s piano figure that runs through the song is every bit the match for the lyrics, and then Federici wraps an organ countermelody around the piano. … God, it gives me chills to this day.

The outtakes found on Tracks and The Promise show him writing very different material than what was released on the final album, the best tracks, sound like more chapters to the Darkness story. While the outtakes were informative, in particular for completists, they only confirmed Bruce Springsteen’s brilliance as an editor Darkness on the Edge of Town still sounds perfectly balanced. He was writing all these great songs rooted in ’60s pop and R&B like “Talk to Me,” “Save My Love” and “Ain’t Good Enough for You.” The finished product only reflected one side of him. And I like the idea of Jon Landau whispering in one ear about the art of the rock album and Steven Van Zandt in the other about more hit singles.  It gave me an even greater appreciation for his creative vision. He went through an agonizing period of writing and editing to arrive at the final product that was true to the feelings he wanted to evoke. He writes fantastic songs, and there are quite a few in those outtakes, but they didn’t fit the theme. When you have so many songs, and great ones at that, those are tough decisions to make. Dilute the album’s message or let the songs languish in the vault? But I’ve always felt that one of Springsteen’s gifts to his fans is that he has allowed us to look back at his editing process. I’ve always appreciated a peak at his rewriting, and how he’s not afraid to hold onto a a piece of music or lyric when he doesn’t think he’s done justice to it yet.

I’d read interviews with him in the past talking about how he’d write something like “Fire” or “Rendezvous” or “Bring on the Night” and have to set them aside, because they didn’t fit the tone of the work he was recording. To hear some of those songs on Tracks and The Promise was great, The overarching thing I take away from them (and from the outtakes from The River) was just how mind-blowingly prolific a songwriter he was at the time. Like, two-albums-a-year prolific.

Almost every other song on Darkness sounds epic, both in the lyrics and the music. “Factory” is a quiet, personal ode to his father that scales down the album’s bigger themes. If replaced with “The Promise” which is way closer to what Darkness is all about. Plus, they’re both slower cuts, so it would fit into that missing slot perfectly.

The other songs tend to feel like they were left off for a reason because of differences in production values, because they are clearly unfinished or (quite often, actually) because upbeat tracks like “Save My Love” and “Gotta Get That Feeling” just don’t fit thematically. That said, the brilliantly ambiguous “Breakaway” might just have made the cut.

“The Promise” belongs on there, but you couldn’t find anything better that’s thematically similar to go in its place (“The Brokenhearted,” “City of Night”?). It could have another kinda love song, “Don’t Look Back.”

I do think “The Promise” would have made a great addition. It’s among his most heartbreaking, and fits well with the tone of the record. In addition “Racing in the Street” I’d surely go with the one he chose for Darkness, but the sped up recording on The Promise really hits the spot sometimes.

“Hearts of Stone,” is another great song which Springsteen gave to Southside Johnny, but which also was a standout cut on the Tracks box.

Image result for bruce springsteen berkeley 1973 images

On March 2nd, 1973, a young, scraggly, a no-name punk from New Jersey landed in Berkeley, California., just weeks after the release of his first studio album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.”, to record a performance for the King Biscuit Flower Hour radio show. A certain Bruce Springsteen opened the show that night for Blood Sweat and Tears, ravaging his way through a seven-song set, each tune picking at the essential storytelling-songwriting so heavily influenced by Dylan in those early years.

This performance showcases an early iteration of the E Street Band, with bassist Garry Tallent, keyboardist and accordionist Danny Federici, and Springsteen’s essential partner, saxophonist Clarence Clemons. (The world wouldn’t see the full classic lineup, including guitarist Steve Van Zandt, until 1975.) But it’s the Boss himself who steals the night with an unrelenting energy and obvious wealth of ambition. Some tracks, like “Wild Billy’s Circus Story” and “Bishop Danced,” are folkier and more story-driven. (The latter, with its fluttering accordion, has been rarely performed and never appeared on a true studio recording). Others, like “Lost in the Flood,” “Spirit in the Night” and “Blinded By the Light,” have remained constant in Springsteen’s 40-year touring career. He also offers a fun, fast-tempo “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?”—cheekily chiming in, “A song about New York City, 82nd Street bus,” after a near two-minute intro. Springsteen completes the set with “Thundercrack,” an 11-minute epic that allows each member of the band to jam, with some provocative guitar work about halfway through.

You can tell the young Springsteen is having a great time as he performs—something that has never changed. This is quite possibly the very first professional live recording of The Boss to surface, recorded 45 years ago on this date.

The Band

Bruce Springsteen: guitar vocals Clarence Clemons: saxophone Danny Federici: organ Vini Lopez: drums Garry Tallent: bass

What makes this show particularly interesting and historical is that a few weeks earlier, Springsteen had actually been part of the very first King Biscuit Flower Hour, which was broadcast over three decades ago (February 18th, 1973). On that broadcast, Bruce only performed two songs and had to share the bill with Blood, Sweat & Tears and jazz-fusion pioneers, the Mahavishnu Orchestra.


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As Bruce Springsteen continues his sold-out Springsteen on Broadway run, he has continued to release live concerts from his archives.

Released a couple of weeks ago is Springsteen and the E Street Band live from Stockholm, Sweden on July 3rd, 1988.  This concert was part of Tunnel of Love Express tour, which was of course supporting 1987’s album “Tunnel of Love”.  What makes this concert significant, however, is that the first 90-minute set was broadcast to radio stations at the time, making it one of most known concerts in the Springsteen canon.   “Chimes of Freedom” from the show was released on an EP of the same name.  But the broadcast did not contain the full concert, which would continue for another set and three encores.  Now, for the first time, the entire concert is being officially released, remixed from the multi-tracks.

Shortly after this tour, Springsteen would disband the E Street Band.  Other than recording a couple of tracks for Springsteen’s first Greatest Hits album, the full group would not come back to together until 1999’s Reunion tour.  The concert that has just been released is the final one from the tour:  July 1st, 2000 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  Portions of this concert were included on the Live in New York City album released in March, 2001, but this is the first time you can officially hear the entire show.  Unique tracks from this show include the closing number, “Blood Brothers,” which had never been performed on a tour before.

Perhaps to tie in with the concept of Springsteen on Broadway, another recent concert is from March 19th, 1996 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  Falling between the other two concerts released, this concert was is support of The Ghost of Tom Joad and features a solo, acoustic set from Springsteen.  He had performed in this way before, but this was the first time he embarked on a full tour in the format.  Many of his familiar songs were recast with new arrangements to sit alongside newer material.

In addition, Springsteen has also released the concert from December 8th, 1978 in Houston, Texas.  This show first appeared in The Promise: Darkness on the Edge of Town boxset in 2010, but this is the first time it has been available separately.  All proceeds from the sale of this concert will go to benefit MusiCares Hurricane Relief Fund.

All three newly released concerts have been mixed by Jon Altshiller and mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering.

All the shows are offered in a variety of formats: Direct Stream Digital or DSD (with 64 times the sampling rate of CD), MP3, FLAC or Apple Lossless, HD-Audio (24 bit/192 kHz, FLAC-HD or ALAC-HD) and CD-R ($26.00).  A CD-R plus MP3 package is also available for each.

All previous ten volumes of The Bruce Springsteen Archive Series are available at Springsteen’s official live store for download and physical purchase.

A special reminder: all titles are on sale today for Cyber Monday (25% off CDs, 50% off downloads)!


With a shout of “270 days till Christmas!” Bruce Springsteen introduced “Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town” at his concert with the E Street Band at Etihad Stadium in Manchester, England. On A Rain Soaked Day Bruce Springsteen and the E.Street Band opened the UK leg of his current “River” Tour

The classic holiday song, which Bruce Springsteen and the band have been performing since 1973, most frequently makes its appearance in E Street Band setlists in the seasonal winter time, though there have been some spring and summer performances before, most recently in May 2014 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

A fan wearing a Santa suit made the request by holding up a sign reading, “Santa Claus is coming to Manchester.”

“What’s the story with the guy in the Santa Claus suit?” Springsteen asked, from the stage. “Is there some connection between Manchester and Santa Claus that I’m not aware of?”

Springsteen then invited the guy to come onstage and sing with the band. After the song, he said: “Let’s hear it for Santa … only in Manchester! Only here. It’s the only place that’s gonna happen. Nobody knew that Manchester was where Santa lives in the off-season. Now we know.”

Bruce Springsteen isn’t the sort to cut corners but leaving out some of ‘The River’ tracks  feels like the right decision for his stadium gigs, but means he can wheel out other songs from his amazing catalogue like “Darkness on the Edge of Town, the sublime “Because the Night”  and “Backstreets” , The Rising, 10th Avenue Freeze Out and exquisite rocker “Johnny 99”.  Song from the set “You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)” and “Hungry Heart”, the most rousing song , ‘The River’, seem positively frivolous compared to the bleakness and high drama of “Point Blank”

The second half of the set features ‘Born in the USA’ tracks – “Darlington County”, “Working on the Highway” and, best of all, the perfectly gorgeous Bobby Jean and Fan favourite) Dancing in the Dark on which Springsteen brings a female on stage. The Boss has always been unapologetically crowd-pleasing and generous – and it’s a huge part of his appeal. He’s not embarrassed to entertain . He runs through the crowd for Hungry Heart, he brings up a young 12 year old girl who is at her first concert for Waitin’ on a Sunny Day and doesn’t stop grinning throughout this giddy experience.

Setlist for 25th May 2016 Manchester Etihad Stadium

1. Atlantic City
2. Murder Incorporated
3. Badlands
4. The Ties That Bind
5. Sherry Darling
6. Two Hearts
7. No Surrender
8. Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
9. Hungry Heart
10. Out in the Street
11. Darkness on the Edge of Town
12. Crush on You
13. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
14. I Wanna Marry You
15. The River
16. Point Blank
17. Johnny 99
18. Darlington County
19. Working on the Highway
20. The Promised Land
21. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
22. Because the Night
23. The Rising
24. Thunder Road
25. Backstreets
26. Born to Run
27. Glory Days
28. Dancing in the Dark
29. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
30. Shout
31. Bobby Jean
32. This Hard Land (solo)

Bruce Springsteen performing at the Etihad Stadium

Nils Lofgren of the E Street Band Recalls the First Time He Heard The River

Nils Lofgren’s released a superb career history box set late last year. Some of this year’s crop of presidential hopefuls could learn a thing or two about Lofgren’s finesse and economy in conversation; how stays on point about what he needs to plug, shares the spotlight with others, gets in an anecdote or two about his illustrious associates, and still manages to be a regular Joe throughout. He has been on the road for 48 years come this September, rocking, shaking hands, and who knows, probably kissing babies. For the last 20 years that campaign has been a grassroots one with which he has been able to maintain a thriving solo career without involving a phalanx of people.

And of course there is his 30-plus year association with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Now touring to promote the Boss’ boxed set The Ties That Bind: The River Collection, which celebrates that double album recorded just a few years before Lofgren joined the band in 1984.

On Chasing Amy
“Strangely enough, 35 years ago, I met Amy in Asbury Park [New Jersey] at the Stone Pony. We were both just kids. After a show at the Pony, she didn’t even come to see me. I met her, convinced her to hang out with me, and at 6 a.m. I went to Boston and begged her to come with me. She said no, she had a job and her mom and all this. So I thought I’d see her in a few months. I never saw her again for 15 years. Twenty years ago, we met again. I was passing through Scottsdale at a great club, The Rocking Horse, that burned to the ground not long after. She came up and said ‘Hi, remember me?’ And we were both at the end of divorces, and we’ve been together ever since.”

That’s when Lofgren moved his home and studio base from D.C. to Arizona, a place he hates to leave for long stretches and sounds eager to return to as he is calling in from The River tour in St. Louis.

“This is my 48th year on the road,” he ruminates. “I’ve long tired of leaving home, but that’s a champagne problem, as Amy points out. We were talking about how much I love playing live, it’s kind of like my favorite thing. And the way Amy put it, and it applies to the E Street Band as we started this tour, for musicians that love to perform live, it’s like going to Oz and the audience is Oz and you go there to find you heart, you go there to find your musical brain, you go there to find your courage. And speaking for myself as a 64-year-old and not being very happy about dragging the suitcase out, saying goodbye to Amy, and having my dogs, who I love, giving me dirty looks, and leaving home is rough, it is truly like going to Oz and finding this part of yourself you don’t find anywhere else. There’s a level of heart and courage and your musical brain getting fired up that you don’t get jamming at a local bar, you don’t get in recording in a studio, you don’t get puttering around at home. You only get it in front of an audience.

One of Nils Lofgren's many guitars.

On living in Arizona
Did Lofgren find moving here a tough adjustment after years of living back east? “Well I’ve been traveling the entire country since ’68. I’d been through Phoenix many times. It’s not like you’re playing the Sahara. It’s a town, there are friendly people and great crowds. I always thought the audiences there were really good. I’d go through there regularly, but I never stuck around.

“I got to love the mild climate. Between Chicago and D.C., I’d had decades of winter, ice, slush, freezing — I just tired of that. And even though it’s grown incredibly over the past 20 years, when Amy was there you could ride horses down Scottsdale, and north of Shea there was nothing but desert. When I got there, the 101 wasn’t even open. Even though it’s got a large populace, it’s still a slower pace of life to me than the coasts.”

On The River
Lofgren recalls the first time he heard the album, having bumped into Springsteen while he was out in L.A. mixing the album, the first Springsteen album to incorporate his serious writing style with the kind of pop throwaways he’d previously given to the likes of Southside Johnny, Greg Kihn, or The Pointer Sisters, only to watch the other artists enjoy great chart success.

“Bruce describes the album as a young adult being part of a planet instead of an outsider. I heard it well before it was released, and I was always impressed how they got the sizzle of the live performance into the album so to be out here playing here is a beautiful thing.”

The E Street Band has only played the album in its entirety once in concert, in New York City a few years back. The learning of an entire double album is a drop in the bucket of what a Springsteen sideman has to learn for each tour.

“We’ve been friends since we did an audition night together in 1970 for Bill Graham at the Fillmore West with Steel Mill and Grin. When I first joined I was overwhelmed with just a hundred songs, but on the last tour we played 240 different songs, so you could imagine the scope. You can’t stay on top of the entire catalog so you kind of guess, you communicate, Bruce gives us a heads up and he’ll surprise us with an audible on stage and we use our instincts to make do and make it work. There’s a great boxed set with bonus tracks we’ll probably dig into. We’re starting off with a great bonus track called ‘Meet Me Tonight In the City.'”

“It’s very organic the way the band comes together. I defer to Bruce and Steve all the time. I hear endless parts. I’ll look at what they’re doing and play the third part I hear and it usually always works out. Much more than musicianship, as a band our instincts are spot on because we love Bruce’s songs and that type of music and have an affinity for how to play it.

On Keith Richards
Lofgren classifies himself as an artist with no hits, but he did have a popular radio hit with a song “Keith Don’t Go” that somehow missed the lower regions of the Top 100. Lofgren has told a story about how he finally met his idol, who meant as much to him as Chuck Berry meant to Keith Richards.

I wondered, when he met his idol was it the same experience as when he and Springsteen played in an all-star band backing up Chuck Berry at a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame show? Chuck reportedly kept changing keys on the band, making all the Hall of Famers with onstage sound like rank amateurs.

“I love Keith Richards, and I’m not speaking about the diabolical nature of Chuck but more the positive nature that inspired Keith and many young guitar players of that generation. I’ve met Keith many times; he’s always been kind and gracious. We never discussed the song I wrote for him, ‘Keith Don’t Go.’ I know he knows I wrote it and I have to believe he understands the spirit with which it was intended, which is ‘You share a gift we all need. It’s a beautiful thing you do. Please stick around and keep doing it and hats off to you on behalf of all us fans.’

“After all these years, Steve Jordan, who plays in The Expensive Winos, brought me into a dressing room, and there is Keith. He said hi, he was very friendly, but he’s there sitting in a corner practicing through this little amp. So I’m visiting with Steve on the other end and all the sudden I hear Keith playing the famous Chuck Berry lick. I have to say I’ve played it a thousand times and I’ve heard it 10,000 times, and I’ve never in my life heard it sound like that and I can’t even explain it to you. It’s just three notes put together in a different way. But there was something going on physiologically and spiritually and musically what was going on inside of him and how he heard that riff of Chuck’s. It was a deeper thing. It meant more to Keith than it meant to Chuck even though Chuck who created it.

“And that’s kind of like what the Stones did for Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and what it became. ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ ‘Jumping Jack Flash.’ It came from them but they made it their own because they had a deeper affinity for it and it meant deeper for them and it became something else.

“Fast forward to a Willie Nelson and Friends TV Special where he would play with a cast of 20 great singers. I was part of a house band, one of four guitar players. I was with Greg Leisz, one of the great lap steel players and Hutch Hutchinson on bass, all this cast of amazing singers coming through and one of the guests was Keith Richards. There was like 20 people onstage and on the other side of the drummer was this giant piano Jerry Lee Lewis was gonna play and in the bell of this piano was Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Keith Richards.

“Now we’re playing so technically now onstage playing with Keith Richards. Now, I’m an old, grizzled veteran myself so I had a sense of humor about it. ‘Hey Keith, I can barely see you there but we’re making music together.’ So Kid Rock comes out … he’s a great showman. We were doing, I can’t even remember. ‘Whole Lotta Shakin,’ maybe. And he’s up there whipping the crowd into frenzy and I understand with monitors and the frenetic sound onstage. He didn’t notice but just as Kid Rock got a buzz to go jump off the piano and run to the audience, you know Jerry Lee tells the band to bring it down. None of us thought it was an intentional slight but he didn’t hear the cue. So what of you do? Part of you wants to acknowledge the frenzy but that other part of you says wait a minute, Jerry Lee says bring it down.

“So we’re all just treading water. I could see a look on Keith’s face, he was feeling the same thing we were feeling but he’s freakin’ Keith Richards, so out of the blue he just explodes out of the little pack of guitar players he’s in, he goes right to the front of the stage, steps in front of Kid Rock and does one of his twirls when he spins on one leg twirls around. He’s still a showman so he’s not going to try to openly bring the show down, with some kind of scary gift that bums everyone out.

“And even better, as soon as he spun around he turned his back on Kid Rock and walked to the other end of the band and he got down with his guitar between his legs and his legs are spreads and he’s looking right in my face and he just sits there rocking out with his back to in our faces with his back to Kid Rock. I can’t tell you what’s going through Keith’s mind but all I can tell you is instead of Keith rocking out 20 feet away, now he’s just rocking out dirty in front of Greg, Hutch, and me. And all three of us are just in heaven. And Keith went and made a statement and rocked out with the band and I was like ‘Hey, there’s a lot of people here besides you.’ I don’t know if that’s what he was saying to him but that’s what he was saying to me.”

Tom England you are a legend! His sign asked whether he can work on the highway with the E Street band. Bruce noticed the sign just about as he was going to kick into “Working on the Highway”. He asked Tom if he could play, and if he knew which key the song was written in. Tom got the question right, and the rest is E street legend. this is what makes touring special, and being in the pit with “The ties that bind”

A series of incredible coincidences came together for Tom England to experience a moment he calls “life changing.” If La Salle, where England is a senior, was not on spring break when Bruce Springsteen happened to be in his hometown of St. Louis, it would have never happened. If England hadn’t been in the fourth row thanks to a lucky lottery draw, it would have never happened. If England’s sign wasn’t … well … weird enough, it would have never happened. If Springsteen, who hasn’t been taking many fan requests on this tour, hadn’t have gotten a kick out of England’s sign, it would have never happened.

But the gods who preside over the Church of Springsteen looked fondly on Tom England on Sunday. Springsteen, England’s idol, invited him up onstage to play “Working on the Highway” with the E Street Band.

“It was big and obnoxious,” England said about the sign. “I was four rows from the stage. I was enjoying the concert. Anthony said as soon as he’s finished playing The River [the 1980 album Springsteen has been playing in full to kick off this tour] throw your sign in the air.”

“I saw him read it,” England said. He told Springsteen he plays guitar. “Okay, if you play guitar, what key is ‘Working on the Highway’ in?” Springsteen asked. “C!” England responded from the crowd. Springsteen jokingly looked at the band and said, “Is that right? Is it in C?”

Next thing England knew, he was onstage with an acoustic guitar in his hand. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” Springsteen said to England.

When England was supposed to come in with the band, guitarist Stevie Van Zandt looked at him and said, “You ready?” “I’ve been waiting for this my whole life,” England replied.

“I was so just happy. It felt like I was playing with my really good friends. You look out and see all these people who are dancing and singing and clapping in the crowd. It was just so surreal and Bruce was just so gracious. He’s my hero. I still just want to thank so so much. I want one more chance just to thank him again,” England, a business school student, said. “I’ve never felt more alive. That was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life and Bruce was able to make it happen.”

There are fan videos, then there are super-fan videos. Springsteen aficionado Phil Whitehead has put together 41 years worth of The Boss performing “Thunder Road” and makes them into an epic supercut . In this video, I wanted to explore how a song like Thunder Road has changed, not only in the way Springsteen performs it, but also how its meaning evolves with an older person singing as Rolling Stone said or Thunder Road, “the lyrics hint at a perspective beyond his years.” I also wanted to look the evolution of live recordings, both professional and homemade.

The music-video-supercut of Bruce Springsteen singing “Thunder Road” between 1975-2016

“Springsteen refuses to be a mercenary curator of his past. He always continues to evolve as an artist, filling one spiral notebook after another with ideas.

This year marks 41 years of Bruce Springsteen singing “Thunder Road,” the opening track off his classic 1975 album Born to Run. To celebrate, one fan has compiled footage of him performing the track throughout the years in all different incarnations.

The five-and-a-half minute video opens with Springsteen’s harmonica intro from the Hammersmith Odeon in London and includes clips from performances from all across the world — from New York to Milan to Stockholm and more — mostly playing with the E Street Band but sometimes playing solo with guitar and even piano.


“Thunder Road” is a song written and performed by Bruce Springsteen, and the opening track on his 1975 breakthrough album Born to Run. It is ranked as one of Springsteen’s greatest songs, and often appears on lists of the top rock songs of all time.

The lyrics to “Thunder Road” describe a young woman named Mary, her boyfriend, their hopeless lives and their “one last chance to make it real.” Thematically, it reads as a nostalgic companion piece to “Born to Run”.

Musically, the song opens with a quiet piano and harmonica introduction, meant, as Springsteen said years later in the Wings For Wheels documentary, as a welcoming to both the track and the album, a signifier that something was about to happen. Eschewing a traditional verse-and-chorus structure, the song’s arrangement gradually ramps up in instrumentation, tempo and intensity. The title phrase is not used until the middle section of the song, and then is not used again. Finally, after the closing line there is a saxophone-and-piano duet in the instrumental coda.

<b>Bruce</b> <b>Springsteen's</b> &quot;<b>Thunder Road&quot; | Bruce Springsteen</b> | Pinterest


In the song, Springsteen mentions Roy Orbison “singing for the lonely” on the radio. Orbison, one of whose best-known songs is “Only the Lonely,” was a huge influence on Springsteen.

The song’s title comes from the Robert Mitchum film Thunder Road. Springsteen declared that he was somehow inspired from the movie even if, as he says, “I never saw the movie, I only saw the poster in the lobby of the theater.”

“Thunder Road” is a classic rock staple, and has been covered by artists such as Melissa Etheridge, Cowboy Junkies, Badly Drawn Boy, brazilian singer Renato Russo, Mary Lou Lord, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy with Tortoise and Frank Turner. Adam Duritz of Counting Crows often sings large portions of the lyrics to “Thunder Road” in the middle of their song “Rain King.”

Badly Drawn Boy also ends his album Born in the UK with the line “if we still don’t have a plan, we’ll listen to ‘Thunder Road'”.

In the movie Explorers starring River Phoenix and Ethan Hawke, the name of the space vessel they create out of a Tilt-A-Whirl is “Thunder Road”. In the novel High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, the protagonist Rob Fleming ranks “Thunder Road” as one of his five best side one tracks.

<b>Bruce</b> <b>Springsteen</b> - Born to Run (1975)