Bruce Springsteen Broadway Review - New York City Article
Bruce Springsteen Broadway Review: The Boss Delivers Triumph of Storytelling and Sound Follow @nyccitiview
By: Kevin Yazell
I recently enjoyed the privilege of attending Springsteen on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theater in NYC. I waffled a bit about actually going as the ticket was quite valuable and, as a veteran of more than 150 shows, over far too many years to admit to, I assumed that I had already seen everything he might do at one show or another. WRONG! Any dedicated fan’s Springsteen experience is incomplete without seeing this performance.
Bruce Springsteen on Broadway Shines
While I HAD seen most of the songs performed in an acoustic setting over the years, the context in which they are presented throughout the show add much deeper meaning to all of them and I’ll never hear any of them in the same way again. The performance is intensely personal and I, and the rest of the audience, was captivated from the first word.
Based on his recent bestselling autobiography, "Born To Run," the performance is a career and life retrospective for Bruce. It also ended up being the same for those of us fortunate enough to have decided to take this long journey with Bruce many years ago. Unlike his signature band performances, this is not a show for repeat visits. It is very thought provoking and it takes a little while to digest the content and delivery.
Bruce’s music and his persona have served as a surrogate parent, brother, mentor and moral compass for over 40 years. His apparent superhuman powers and, as he described it, “An undying fire in the belly,” have been a bottomless well of inspiration for myself and millions of others. It's hard to imagine a world without Bruce Springsteen and he's made it a better place.
The show reminded me of how I discovered his music as a 13 year old and how amazed I was at just how Bruce could know what it was like growing up in Indiana because he described it flawlessly. The only contact we had with the world outside the county was 3 TV Stations, 2 radio stations and the Sunday paper. How did he know? Really know??
Maybe it was the expression of and commonality of the love-hate relationship we all share for our hometowns and the longing to just get the hell out of it and leave it all behind. We had white line fever and were ready to bust out and start with a new white page as he so eloquently described as a set up to "My Hometown."
Springsteen on Broadway Setlist
We’ve all claimed at least partial ownership of all of the great songs included in the show, from listening 10s of 1000s of times and singing along at the multitude of live shows attended including "Born To Run," "Thunder Road," "Growin’ Up," and "The Promised Land." But as Bruce tells his story in between the 15 carefully chosen songs they are clearly his.
Springsteen’s empathy for and insight into the human experience must be otherworldly, as he made it abundantly clear that he never had a job of any kind, never walked into a factory, never worked at a car wash, didn’t know how to drive until well into adulthood and until now, had never worked 5 days a week. Didn’t like it either, he said.
In addition to sharing his family background and experience growing up in Freehold, New Jersey, Bruce painted America as “The Land of Peace, Love, Justice and No Mercy” as he had introduced Thunder Road in the fall of 1978.
His experience of being sent to the draft during the Vietnam War along with Vinny “Mad Dog” Lopez and another friend and their unanimous and subsequent denial along with his stories of friends who went to the war not to return provided a very dramatic backdrop for "Born In The USA."
A brief E Street Band tribute was part of 10th Avenue Freeze Out, including a very touching and poignant salute to the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.
Bruce pointed out that 1+1=2 happens all the time. But when 1+1=3 that’s when magical things happen. It’s not always about having the best players…it’s about having the right players. That’s when 1+1=3.
Patti joins Bruce for 2 numbers, "Tougher Than The Rest" and "Brilliant Disguise." "Brilliant Disguise," a song about trust, takes on a deeper meaning with the two of them doing it strictly as a duo.
Complete Set List of Springsteen On Broadway:
1. Growin' Up
2. My Hometown
3. Mt Father's House
4. The Wish
5. Thunder Road
6. The Promised Land
7. Born In The USA
8. 10th Avenue Freeze Out
9. Tougher Than The Rest
10. Brilliant Disguise
11. Long Walk Home
12. The Rising
13. Dancing In The Dark
14. Land Of Hope And Dreams
15. Born To Run
Parental Guidance and Dreaming
Bruce’s parents Doug and Adele are both huge parts of the story and each provided an image and character very opposite the other and each clearly influenced his songs in very different ways.
His favorite tree, a staple in his yard and neighborhood for years served as a safe retreat from everyday woes and the open space. He climbed its furthest points at the tender age of 8 and the breeze at the top of the tree allowed him the opportunity to dream, dream, dream. I’ll let Bruce tell the rest of his story about the tree but it was a large and symbolic part of the performance.
Thanks to all who adhered to the no cell phone policy! The absence of cell phone distractions made the show much more enjoyable.
Bruce recently extended his Broadway stand through June 30. Tickets are very hard to come by but it is certainly worth the effort, if you can find a way in.