Spring­steen cre­ates new per­for­mance tem­plate on Broad­way


NEW YORK — Af­ter check­ing off all the rock star su­perla­tives in his 68 years, Bruce Spring­steen has set out to cre­ate a wholly new per­for­mance tem­plate.

“Spring­steen on Broad­way,” which opened Thurs­day night, is a deeply per­sonal life story with a sound­track, a one-man (or one-man and one-woman for two songs) show that’s by turns funny and touch­ing. He’s on­stage five nights a week through Feb. 3 in what has been called his Broad­way de­but.

The dis­tinc­tion is im­por­tant. This is a set piece, not a con­cert where Spring­steen usu­ally changes his set-list from night to night. He mo­tioned to fans who greeted him at Wed­nes­day’s fi­nal re­hearsal with cheers and fa­mil­iar “Bru­u­u­ucce!” shouts to sit down, and stopped peo­ple from clap­ping along to “Danc­ing in the Dark” by say­ing, “I’ll han­dle it my­self.”

The songs — 15 of them in a 130-minute per­for­mance — were sec­ondary to Spring­steen’s sto­ries about grow­ing up in Free­hold, N.J., the peeks into what he’s reached for ar­tis­ti­cally and pokes at his own per­sona. The in­ti­macy of the 960-seat Wal­ter Kerr Theatre is what made it spe­cial; Spring­steen could step away from the mi­cro­phone for a verse or two and not worry about his voice not reach­ing the rafters.

“I have never held an hon­est job in my en­tire life,” Spring­steen said. “I have never done an hon­est day’s work. I’ve never done hard la­bor. I’ve never worked 9 to 5 And yet, that is all that I’ve ever writ­ten about.”

Recit­ing a stream of his own lyrics about the “death trap” and need to run from the swamps of Jersey, he dead­panned, “I live 10 min­utes from my home­town.”

“I came from a board­walk town where ev­ery­thing is tinged with a bit of fraud,” he said. “So am I, if you haven’t fig­ured that out yet.”

Some of Spring­steen’s sto­ries about growin’ up (the ti­tle of his open­ing song) should be fa­mil­iar to read­ers of his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, and he even reads from it. He has a keen eye and nov­el­ist’s sense of de­tail. Talk­ing about go­ing into a bar at his mother’s be­hest to tell his fa­ther it was time to go home, he de­scribed his dad’s en­tire out­fit, down to the belt, and the mix of smells ex­otic to a young boy’s nose.

His mono­logue about the neigh­bor­hood that con­sti­tuted an 8-year-old boy’s world segued into Spring­steen per­form­ing, on pi­ano, the song “My Home­town,” which be­gins with the lyric, “I was 8-year­sold and run­ning with a dime in my hand.” Sto­ries of his fa­ther, Dou­glas, and mother, Adele, con­trast­ing moods of dark­ness and light, were ac­com­pa­nied by per­for­mances of the songs “My Fa­ther’s House” and “The Wish.”


Bruce Spring­steen per­forms at The As­bury Park Mu­sic And Film Fes­ti­val in As­bury Park, N.J. Spring­steen made his Broad­way de­but Thurs­day in a solo show in which he per­forms songs from his ca­reer.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.