Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

Bruce Springsteen is performing a true residency at the Walter Kerr theater on Broadway. For four months, he’ll be performing five shows per week.

I’ve never seen Springsteen. Even when I lived in New York, in the late 1970s, it was impossible to get tickets to see him. I actually once got snuck into the Palladium with a friend who knew someone who worked there, around 1978 or so, but we got spotted up in the last row before anyone was allowed in.

I’d love to see one of these shows, but, obviously, that won’t be happening. In part because it’s so far, but also because tickets are trading at $1,000 or more. Bruce is on stage, playing about 15 songs, telling stories, all just with his voice, a piano, and an acoustic guitar. (His wife joins him to sing harmonies for two songs.)

This, to be honest, is my favorite Springsteen: the songs from Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad, Devils and Dust; those Dylanesque acoustic numbers that grab you right in the heart.

The first reviews are in, and they range from very positive (the New York Times) to extremely negative ( The former says:

At other times, in the startling intimacy of the 939-seat theater […] “Springsteen on Broadway” seems like a radio monodrama broadcast from the deepest interior of a single troubled soul. His voice, still quite capable of what he calls in the memoir his “Jersey-Pavarotti-via-Roy Orbison singing,” more often sounds like the howl of a dog caught in a barbed-wire fence. His guitar sounds like the barbed wire.

And the latter says:

Sorry to break the bad news, Bruce fans, but Springsteen’s choice to develop this four-month residency in New York by himself, without the help of a stage-savvy director, has proven a cavalier and foolish decision by the rock icon — the arc of this disjointed production is saved only by its music and the exclusivity of its venue. He would’ve saved himself some trouble simply rocking a straight, two-hour acoustic set and selling his audiobook with the candy and cocktails.

No matter. I’m sure this will be filmed (at least I hope so) and recorded for CD release (I’m sure of that), and it’s certainly a major moment in Springsteen’s career. It could also be his swan song; at 68 years old, and with a grueling schedule of very long concerts, he might be tired of the road.

I wish I could see one of these shows…