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BRUCE ON BROADWAY: GO

If you get a chance, Springsteen on Broadway is a must-see.

This is simply one of the finest shows we’ve ever witnessed, and one that will prove lump-in-the-throat poignant to anyone who grew up in the same era and glimpsed the fire. (And don’t be afraid of the well-publicized high prices—there are some inexpensive seats as well).

The show is Bruce’s raw, personal memoir of early ‘50s and ‘60s life in Irish-Catholic, small-town New Jersey.  We get an introspective look at his working-class father and mother, and the electrifying experience of seeing Elvis on Ed Sullivan in 1956 and feeling rock and roll for the first time. 

You hear and almost smell where and how he grew up, from the sidewalks of the quaint, church-dominated family neighborhood to the saloons where he went looking for his dad, a blue-collar man’s man.  His mom, who worked all her life as a legal assistant, instilled something special in him: She taught him to pursue the dream. She also taught him how to dance—and at 92 she still has moves.    

The show finds Bruce reflecting on church, civil rights in the ‘50s and’ 60s and, perhaps most powerfully, Vietnam—acknowledging his guilty feelings for escaping the draft and mourning the tens of thousands lost in a war that became a vivid stain on the American psyche. 

He conjures flatbed trucks loaded with cheap gear, driving from one crappy gig to another as he paid his dues throughout the dregs of Jersey, before joining up with Big Man Clarence and the rest of what would become the E Street Band, his lifelong ensemble and one of his greatest loves. 

Patti Scialfa joins him onstage for two songs, shining a spotlight on their loving, 30-year relationship. It’s a moving and intimate, if momentary, look inside the heart of a rock and roll family built on trust and fidelity.   

Bruce’s passion about America—who we were and where we are—is captured in an overriding political commentary; he isn’t subtle about his feelings on equality, the issues of the day and his hope for change in the land that he loves. 

You learn where the fire started, how it was kindled and why it still burns bright in the heart of rock and roll. 

Of course, what fills those seats, first and foremost, is the music; Springsteen on Broadway presents an array of his classic songs in different tempos, stripping them down to their essence and investing the material with different emotional shadings. Alternating between guitar with a bit of harmonica and piano, he weaves his powerful, unforgettable story through songs like “Growing Up, “My Home Town” and “My Father’s House,” “Dancing in the Dark,” “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA.”

Even audience members who have those songs in their DNA will walk away from the show with a deeper appreciation of the stories they tell, as Bruce Springsteen once again becomes our time’s great poet of protest and introspection, in the tradition of Guthrie, Dylan and Baez. Don’t miss it.

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