Bruce has been telling stories about his childhood as long as he’s been filling theaters and arenas, but with a Broadway audience he’s allowed to stretch them out as long as he wants, with no band vamping behind him waiting for the downbeat. The crowd sits quietly while he talks, laughs at all the jokes, calls out answers to brief questions and saves their applause for the music itself and a tribute to Clarence Clemons. He does his best to take advantage of the intimate setting, telling his alternately self-deprecating and exaggeratedly boastful tales, peppered with four-letter words and his own chuckles.
Springsteen On Broadway is a long program, filling up two CDs, and best enjoyed in one sitting. The stories themselves are nothing new, particularly for anyone who read his book. He begins with his youth, and moves gradually through trying to get signed, and what he did after he got famous, with some commentary on the Trump administration toward the end. The songs are mostly the expected classics from the ‘70s and ‘80s, with a few curveballs thrown in, but predominantly stripped back and slowed down. We kept checking the notes, and it really is him playing the piano, even keeping pace while he’s talking. Naysayers won’t be convinced, but he’s not singing for them anyway.
Bruce Springsteen Springsteen On Broadway (2018)—3½