Boss holds court on Broadway
I first saw Bruce Springsteen open for Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry on April 28, 1973, at Cole Field House on The University of Maryland’s College Park campus. Bruce — it’s OK to call him Bruce — and the band did a half-hour set, then later returned as Berry’s backing band.
As he vividly and gleefully tells the story in the 1987 documentary Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock’n’Roll, Berry showed up five minutes before showtime. A nervous Springsteen asked what songs he’d do, and the inevitable answer was “Chuck Berry songs”.
From early in his career, Springsteen was a known raconteur, and as his fame swelled and his shows became stadium-sized revival meetings, he often reminisced onstage about his early days in Freehold, New Jersey, and the nearby seaside town of Asbury Park, his fraught relationship with his father and his yearning to be a rock and roll star. Now that he is, a one-man residency on Broadway seemed a natural progression: from previews commencing October 3, 2017, through December 15, 2018 (the show was extended twice owing to high ticket demand), five shows a week — Tuesday through Saturday — Bruce held court at Manhattan’s intimate 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre at 219 West 48th Street.
Mixing stories from his 2016 autobiography, Born to Run, with scripted material, he ran through 15 songs on guitar, piano and harmonica, sometimes with special guest Patty Scialfa, his wife and an E Street Band member. Hours after the final performance, Netflix released this intimate and captivating special, filmed last July.
I saw Bruce two years ago in NSW’s Hunter Valley, maybe for the 15th or 16th and probably the last time. No worries — we now have this glorious vehicle to recapture the magic. streaming on Netflix.
The Springsteen special, filmed during a run of Manhattan shows, is a feast for fans