Itâs 45 years since of Springsteenâs debut album âGreetings From Asbury Park, N.J.â released in 1973. The album sold poorly, but it started of a career spanning years of sell out three-hour stadium gigs and world tours.
Now 69, he undertook a one man residency at the 975 seat Walter Kerr Theatre, on Broadway, playing 236 shows, five nights a week from October 2017 to late November 2017 with additional dates booked through the end of June 2018 and another run between March and December 2018.
He played guitar, harmonica and piano, performing songs for his extensive catalogue interspersing them with reminiscences from his childhood and career. They are humorous, poignant and capture important times in his personal life and musical career. His wife Patti Scalia appeared at most shows duetting with her husband on âTougher Than The Restâ and âBrilliant Disguiseâ.
Commencing with âGrowinâ Upâ, he talks about his early life â a humdrum existence of school, church, holidays, Christmas, weddings, funerals and green beans!
That was it until a seismic shock hit the collective nervous system of the USA when Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. Springsteen says that if they knew what would going to happen âthey would have shut that shit downâ. It also encouraged the seven years old Bruce to take up âthat thing below the waistâ â a guitar.
He says that he never worked in a factory, or worked hard labour and never worked five days a week – âuntil nowâ. He had never âraced in the streetsâ, or done the things he sang about â but he says he did have good, tight band.
His songs reflected working class life. His father hated working in a local rug factory, in a car factory, in a plastics factory and as a truck driver.
His recollection of being sent to a local bar to fetch his dad home is a wonderfully told story. He talks about his pride in his mother, who loved dancing to 1940s swing bands and who held down a good job at an insurance company.
The intros and monologues are filled with stories of small town USA. âMy Hometownâ recalls a time before the good industrial jobs left the USA and the racial tensions in school. On the intro to âThe Promised Landâ Springsteen says: âJersey was in the boon docksâ. A place where nobody came and nobody left and runs through the dead end gigs he played in N.J. – drive in movies, weddings, supermarket openings, church halls, before moving to the west coast to try to make it big.
Although the set list and scripted monologues changed little you can feel the sheer emotion on âTenth Avenue Freeze-Outâ when he is speaking about his friendship with the late E Street Band sax player Clarence Clemons.
The CD contains âLong Time Cominââ (on which explains his complex relationship with his father) and âThe Ghost Of Tom Joadâ, both substituted for the duet he performed with Patti when his she took ill.
âBorn In The USAâ is a eulogy for friends killed in action in Vietnam, delivered with anger and bitterness.
âTom Joadâ has a damning spoken intro on those âin the highest offices of our land who want to speak to our darkest angels, who want to want to call up the ugliest and the most divisive ghosts of Americaâs past, who want to destroy the idea of America for all. Thatâs their intention.â
âThe Risingâ, the anthem written for New York fire fighters after â9/11â is taken at a reflective pace, but âDancing In The Darkâ brings back the good times (even done solo) and is met with a thunderous applause.
Springsteen says his is âan American story â a long and noisy prayer and hopes he has been a good travelling companionâ He has. There are not many performers who could pull off a stunning show like this – but as a review of a show many years ago in an English music paper once said âSpringsteen delivers.â
âSpringsteen On Broadwayâ is the soundtrack to the Netflix film of the same name issued by Columbia as a 2 CD set, or on vinyl as a 4 LP set.