Bruce Springsteen continues The River 35th Anniversary tour, with European dates starting May 14.
I caught Bruce at one of the last- ever shows at the L.A. Sports Arena this past March. I know some people have seen more Bruce shows than years I’ve been alive. The River tour marked my first experience. I bought tickets thinking, “What if he never tours again?” Judging from the L.A. shows, that was a stupid question.
Bruce played the entire The River album, which runs an hour and 24 minutes. Then he blasted some greatest hits, fan favorites, and covers for another two hours. All with no break. At 66, he could perform most of today’s pop stars off the stage. He gave a fantastic almost four- hour show with nothing but a few manually operated stage lights and the incomparable E Street Band. I’ll admit, I almost fell asleep standing up during some of the slower songs. But Bruce and the band powered through, like the marathon rockers they are.
Could his secret be clean living? Bruce Springsteen has been drug free since 1949. His wife of 25 years, Patti Scialfa, performs on stage with him (almost) every night. Bruce works out, as evidenced by healthy biceps. He’s got all the same wrinkles and laugh lines he’s had since age 26.
Time has not been so kind to some other members, such as Clarence Clemons, who passed away from stroke complications in 2011. Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons currently plays sax for the band. But all members of the E Street band have a rare zest. When they finally left the stage, you somehow got the feeling that these “old guys” still had more energy left than you.
Bruce gets personal with the fans. At our show, he invited one totally stunned little girl up on stage with them. He looks fans in the face. He clearly performs not only for himself, but like his 1972 track says, ¨for you¨. There were times when the songs seemed obligatory, but Bruce gets his energy from the crowd. So if you’re in the audience, dance around. You’ll get a better show.
On The River, Bruce takes stock of the ties that bind, the LP’s original title. Family played a role. His sister inspired the title track. His father inspired Independence Day. Now a father himself, the tracks take on a new meaning for Bruce (and for most of his fans, who hover around the same age). I’m sure he gives the same shpeils at all his shows, but unlike Taylor Swift’s rehearsed life lessons, it seems like the words come to him on the spot. Like a true poet/rock star.
We don’t have many of those left these days. Lucky for us, Bruce & the band show no signs of slowing down. Hey, Paul Simon is touring at age 74. Bruce might have to cut his 4 hour shows down to 90 minutes, but I´ll take all the Bruce I can get.
Remaining US Dates:
14 APR, 2016
Auburn Hills, MI
The Palace of Auburn Hills
18 APR, 2016University Park, PA
Bryce Jordan Arena
20 APR, 2016Baltimore, MD
Royal Farms Arena
23 APR, 2016Brooklyn, NY
25 APR, 2016Brooklyn, NY