SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY: An Intimate Night with The Boss

                                SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY:  The Boss bares his life on the stage of the Walter Kerr Theater

SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY: An Intimate Night with The Boss

Beyond South Brooklyn

He enters the stage to thunderous applause and guttural cries of "BRUU-CE"

And for the next two hours, we learn what it is like to be Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen.

I came to Springsteen on Broadway with no pre-conceived notions and no idea what to expect, I admit that I have never been to a Springsteen show. What we got was a poignant performance of the spoken word interspersed with heart-tugging renditions of Springsteen's greatest hits, and a baring of his soul. It reminded me of a Spalding Gray monologue with music.

Without reading a single review or description of "The Boss" on Broadway, I also had no idea that he had even written his autobiography until after the show. In the first five minutes, we learned that Bruce "made up the whole Jersey thing," "never was inside a factory but writes about them all the time," and "never worked five straight days until now, and I don't like it."

I came to realize that Bruce Springsteen is what we all want to be. The young boy who discovers the guitar at 7-years-old, convinces his mom to get him one, and after two weeks gives it up because it is too hard. But along the way to this discovery, he learns that he loves to perform. And as he stands onstage alone in the Walter Kerr Theater, his guitar skills are evident.

Providing the soundtrack for his monologue, he moves easily between multiple guitars exchanged by a stagehand that gives transitions between stories. A piano and a harmonica are the only other instruments beside his voice. When he sits at the piano, the music has a completely different feel, becoming almost mystical.

His aspirations, hopes and dreams come out onstage as do the unmistakable issues of the 60s. He speaks of the Vietnam War, losing two friends who were early mentors in his music. He talks about receiving his draft notice and doing whatever it takes to get deferred, and then always wondering who ended up going in his place and what happened to them. As he begins "Born in the USA," the mournful tones of the song are presented in an almost prayer-like quality, punctuating the remorse he feels.

The intimate confines of the theater, with 975 seats and not a bad view of the stage, makes it feel like you are in Bruce's house and he is giving you a personal look into his life. Three early songs tell of his childhood, "My Hometown" begins with his lament of always trying to get away from Freehold, NJ, and how he now lives ten minutes away; "My Father's House" leads into his father-son relationship which is culminated later in the show with a revelation that he and his father finally connected with him with the birth of his first child; and "The Wish" presenting his mother as the sweetness in his life.

Sitting at the piano, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" is interspersed with his feelings for the E-Street Band and the heartache he feels at losing his cherished friend, saxophone player Clarence Clemons. He explains that there are times when "one plus one equals three" and the sum of their parts creates a "magic" that comes forth in the music. “Nobody captured an audience’s imagination like Clarence,” he says.

This night was minus Patti Scialfa, his wife and bandmate. "She threw her back out and is home in traction" was the only explanation. "But I'll give you something extra."

And he delivered.

He keeps Trump name  out of the show by name, but at one point tells the crowd, "Today we're dealing with young men in torch-light parades calling on the ugliest ghosts of our past. And suddenly your neighbors and countrymen look like complete strangers to you. Martin Luther King said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. I think that's true. I believe that it is true. I believe that what we're seeing now is just a bad chapter in the ongoing battle for the soul of the nation.”

Audience members knew what he was talking about, but, thankfully, the liberal artist did not turn the show into a political screed.

Springsteen, at 68-years-old, still captivates his audience. The fan beside me was there for the third time. Bruce is definitely taking Broadway by storm. Long live The Boss.


Taking his bow, the cellphones come out at the end of Springsteen on Broadway. It was the only time photos were allowed.