Springsteen turns on the lights of Broadway
Show nostalgic, lyrical, emotional
NEW YORK — To roars reaching volumes you normally hear in arenas 20 times the size, Bruce Springsteen sang Broadway back to life on Saturday night. In the first fulllength performance there since the coronavirus silenced theaters in Times Square 15 months ago, the 71-year-old rock ’n’ roll superstar delivered what a thrill-starved audience craved: an inspirationally galvanizing 2½-hour show that is by turns lyrical, nostalgic and rawly emotional.
The energy in the 1,700seat St. James Theatre — where “Springsteen on Broadway” has settled in for the summer — could have electrified a Con Ed substation. The crowd included longtime fans of the Boss and luminaries as well: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and husband Chasten, MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, and E Street Band alumnus Steve Van Zandt all were in a house in which some seats sold for $500 and more.
They were treated to a reprise of the concert that Springsteen brought to Broadway in 2017 and ran for 229 performances. Saturday night at the St. James wasn’t so much a continuation as an amplification: The set list that includes “My Father’s House,” “Thunder Road,” “The Rising” and “Dancing in the Dark” remains pretty much the same from the earlier version. The songs he’s picked often illustrate the influence that his early years had on his music. Added to the program this time is “American Skin (41 Shots),” a song Springsteen wrote in response to the fatal Bronx police shooting in 1999 of Amadou Diallo.
But if the earlier run of “Springsteen on Broadway” was a more subdued, ruminative affair, this new one showcases a funnier, more relaxed Springsteen — a rocker with a showman’s flair for the dramatic and a yearning to underscore his eternal quest for authenticity: “I come from a boardwalk town,” he says by way of preamble, “where everything was tinged with fraud.”