(Andy Greene’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, 10/12; via The New York Times.)
‘Springsteen on Broadway’ takes the audience on a journey through the singer’s life story using many of his most iconic songs
A little over four minutes into Bruce’s Springsteen‘s Broadway show, he stops playing the opening song, “Growin’ Up,” and speaks to the crowd, his voice entirely unamplified. “I have never held an honest job in my entire life,” he says in a near-shout. “I’ve never worked nine to five. I’ve never done any hard labor, and yet is all that I’ve written about.”
With last year’s myth-shattering, deeply evocative memoir Born to Run, Springsteen introduced readers to the real, vulnerable, complex human being behind his larger-than-life persona. Springsteen on Broadway, at the 975-seat Walter Kerr theater, is in many ways a live version of the book, even if reports that he’d be “reading” from it aren’t quite right: Most of the extensive spoken-word segments are brand new or heavily altered from the book versions. It’s clear from the beginning that this is nothing like a typical latter-day Springsteen concert, where set lists can vary wildly from night to night and Bruce often has little to say between songs. There’s no room for his usual athleticism here – Springsteen just shuffles a few feet between a piano on stage left and a microphone at center stage. The intensity is, instead, emotional, as Springsteen digs hard into the bedrock of his life story, and ours: childhood, religion, work, death. The performance is hard to categorize. It’s not a concert; not a typical one-man-show; certainly not a Broadway musical. But it is one of the most compelling and profound shows by a rock musician in recent memory.