Bruce Springsteen creates a self-portrait in song and story on Broadway.
At age 68, Bruce Springsteen is the midst of an historic 236 show run on Broadway in the intimate Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre. The show, which debuted in October of 2017 was originally scheduled for a single 8 week run. Demand has been so incredibly high, the show’s run has been extended 3 times.
The show is half spoken word and half song. The stories he tells come from or build on the ideas he presented in his 2016 memoir “Born to Run”, described as “hair-raising”.
One review of the primarily solo performance described it as “a painful if thrilling summing-up at 68; a major statement about a life’s work, but also a major revision of it.” Most of the show, Springsteen plays his acoustic guitar or piano unaccompanied. On two tunes, his wife, Patti Scialfa joins him to harmonize.
His famous songs are barely recognizable in this live tuneful memoir. He plays the songs at a much slower tempo giving him time to emphasize the lyrics, especially the verses that have been overshadowed by the pounding choruses of his anthems. For example, “Born in the USA” he says he always intended as a protest song and he dwells on the mournful verses about damaged veterans.
In addition to his popular anthems, he performs a number of lesser known tunes close to his heart:
- Growin’ Up
- Dancing in the Dark
- Born in the USA
- My Hometown
- My Father’s House
- Ghost of Tom Joad
- Thunder Road
- Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
- Long Walk Home
- The Rising
- Brilliant Disguise
- Tougher Than the Rest
Springsteen refers to his music as his “long and noisy prayer” and to himself as a hopeful change agent “colliding with the times”. The show is an historic, first of its kind, show. It’s not a sing-a-long or a rabble-rouser of a show. It’s contemplative and Springsteen comes off as intense, hard as steel and real. The result is a self-portrait of the artist in story and song.
This set of 81 shows will end on December 15, 2018. Tickets go on sale March 28, 2018 at 11 am.
Not everyone will get to see this show. Here are a few photos of Bruce Springsteen through the years.
The photo above is from one of his arena concerts. His Broadway performance is solo in an theatre holding less than a thousand fans.
One reviewer said “The performance is hard to categorize. It’s not a concert; not a typical one-man-show; certainly not a Broadway musical. But it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory.”
If you have a chance to see “Springsteen on Broadway”, please share your thoughts about the show in the comments below. If you just love Bruce Springsteen, please share that too!
Resources: Review: “Springsteen on Broadway” Reveals the Artist, Real and Intense” by Jesse Green, Oct. 12, 2017 in The New York Times; Review: Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway Show is an Intimate Triumph” by Andy Greene, October 12, 2017 in RollingStone; Review: What “Springsteen on Broadway” Gets Wrong About the Boss’ Job by Mikael Wood, October 12, 2017 in Los Angeles Times.
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