Springsteen On Broadway

Bruce Springsteen

Columbia, 2018

http://www.brucespringsteen.net

REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/23/2018

Who is Bruce Springsteen?

In his 69 years, he’s been a rebellious son and a loving father, an unhappy divorcée and a devoted husband, a solo act and a band leader, a pop star and a rock god, a nation’s comforter in times of sorrow and its conscience in times of excess. Through it all, of course, he’s been the Boss.

But in 2017, he decided to become something new: a Broadway star. In a year’s worth of shows at the Walter Kerr Theatre, Springsteen strode out on stage night after night, accompanied only by a few instruments (and, later in the show, wife and bandmate Patti Scialfa) to show audiences what he calls his “magic trick”: the story of his life. With the show now concluded, fans unable to make it to Broadway can now experience some version of it for themselves, both through a Netflix special and this soundtrack album.

Springsteen’s gift has always been for creating a community with his music – from the half-real and half-imagined community of the 1970s Jersey bar scene to the cast of characters in his songs to, most importantly, the legion of fans bound together by their love for and belief in his music. He does it again with this show. You immediately feel like you’ve been let in on a secret, just you and a room full of people. There is an intimacy, both in content and performance, that is not lost when you listen to the soundtrack. In a way that even his best live albums have never quite managed, you feel like you’re there, you and the community of people who share the secret.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Over the course of the show, Springsteen alternates between spoken word and song, narrating his journey from Freehold, New Jersey to worldwide fame and, ultimately, back to the Jersey shore where “Mr. Born to Run” now resides, he confesses, “ten minutes from my hometown.” For those who have attended his shows over the years or read his 2016 autobiography Born To Run, the stories are familiar: the closed-off father who made the kitchen his fearful stronghold, the band which had to travel the country to find itself, the wife in whom Bruce finally discovered the acceptance, love, and peace he’d been seeking from audiences. But something about the way Springsteen tells the stories in this show, the way he deftly moves from laughs to solemnity, from stories to sage wisdom, and from speaking to singing makes these old stories resonate in a new, powerful way.

In a music review you might expect a word on how the songs sound, but honestly, it’s sort of beside the point. They sound good – I’ll say that “The Ghost Of Tom Joad” has never sounded better – but they are simply parts of a greater whole. Springsteen On Broadway is not a concert, not in the traditional sense. It’s a reflection on years gone by and encouragement for what’s ahead, it’s a fireside chat and a raucous rally, it’s memories and prophecies, it’s, in the Boss’s own words, his “long and noisy prayer.”

Above all, it is a story, because above all else Bruce Springsteen is a storyteller. Having spent decades telling the stories of Rosalita and Mary, Jimmy the Saint and Outlaw Pete, Terry and Wendy, Springsteen On Broadway is his time to finally tell in poetry what his autobiography told in prose. It’s a story of fear, faith, dreams, loss, joy, and love – and it’s a story you need to hear.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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