Bruce Springsteen tour rumors are here! This is what fans say they want from the shows
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
Hard to believe it’s already that time of year again! Yes, I’m referring to Bruce Springsteen Tour Rumor season. It always comes up so fast.
If you spend time on Twitter, you have probably seen the tweets about how Bruce Springsteen was going to announce a world tour with the E Street Band this past Thursday, until he didn’t. This is because Springsteen tour rumors are sort of like End-of-the-World pronouncements or claims about Trump’s “reinstatement” as president -- they’re mostly made up out of whole cloth by crazy people on the internet, and when they don’t come true, they just make up new ones.
So I’m going to make a few declarations of my own that should come as no surprise to anybody who’s been paying attention: First, barring some unforeseen disaster (Covid variant delta-plus-plus or zombie apocalypse, for instance), Bruce and the band will hit the road in 2022. He’s literally said as much, several times, which is more than we usually get from him in the way of advance promises.
Second, he will not be revealing a 2022 tour itinerary today, this week, or (probably) next month. Bruce isn’t one of those regular artists who announces his tours a year ahead of time. That would be boring! As Stevie pointed out in his new book, not only was the 2016 River Tour announced with practically no notice, nobody in the band even knew they were going to do it until about six weeks before -- including Bruce! Now, that’s how you keep things interesting.
(Update: Some readers have pointed out that 2016 was not the norm, which is true. But Stevie's accounting of it is still hilarious.)
But assuming a tour is at least in the planning stages, it’s perfectly legitimate to ask the question: What type of tour will this be? Bruce has put out two albums (and an autobiography!) since the last tour with the E Street Band, and may have yet another on the shelves if talk of a “Tracks 2” turns out to be correct. That leaves a lot of setlist options.
To narrow things down for him, since I’m sure he’s paying attention, we went to the best source we could think of: Blogness on the Edge of Town readers. About 400 responded to our poll asking people what they’d like to see when Bruce hits the road, and here’s where they came down:
You can see that a sizable portion of the audience is looking for new material: 23% want a “Letter to You” tour, and another 19% are looking for a combined focus on “Letter to You” and “Western Stars.”
But the largest single sliver, 33%, wants a career retrospective, a la the 1999-2000 Reunion Tour -- probably because the number of upcoming tours is seeming more and more finite.
William from Belfast seemed to speak for many when he noted, “I would love a greatest hits tour, a few hits from each album.” Or as another respondent put it, “It could very well be the last one, so I really hope to get all his classics live one more time, not new stuff.”
Meanwhile, 12% of those responding want a full-album “Born in the USA” option -- possibly tied to a BITUSA boxed set -- and about 6% (we know who we are) want a decidedly un-commercial outtakes and rarities tour, the very concept of which would no doubt cause Jon Landau to plotz.
As for "Other," the vast majority of those were of the "whatever he wants is OK with me" variety -- except for one extremely well thought-out response from a fan in Norway: "A concert in three sets: 1. With E Street Band. Tribute to Clarence Clemons. Songs from the entire career – including more recent songs with Clemons-tracks added. 2. Bruce alone, with guitars and piano. Nebraska-style. With comments on the history of the American dreams and nightmares of Springsteen’s own life-time. 3. Seeger Sessions ++ Acoustic band including friends. Comments on divided America and possible ways forward, preferably with two or three new songs to be added in the American Song Book. I want to sing them here in Norway." Well, OK then.
More than 100 Blogness regulars from all over the world also left comments about how they feel about the upcoming tour, what they want to hear, what guest stars they want to see, and what they’re most looking forward to -- some in great detail. A few things we learned:
Bruce really helped people survive the pandemic
People really want to take their kids (or parents!)
People really want to see some guest stars -- except for the people who really don’t
There’s a lot of concern this could be “the last tour”
Check out the highlights from their comments below (edited for length and clarity):
“I’d love to hear the best rock live performer again, 2016 seems soooo long ago. Looking forward to ‘Ghosts’ as the opener and some ‘Western Stars’ songs too. Please come to Vienna again and play ‘Fire’ there.” — Thomas, Austria
“‘Kitty's Back,’ ‘Meeting Across the River,’ ‘New York City Serenade,’ OOOOOOLD stuff!!!”
“I've been a fan since the ’70's. There's nothing like seeing Bruce and the E Street Band live in concert! I am hoping he comes back to Milwaukee, and plays a lot of his hits — of course his latest songs from “Letter To You” and “Western Stars” would be wonderful to hear as well.” — Kim, Wisconsin
“Given his age, I’m guessing this is his last big tour, so I want to see a blend of music spanning his career with the full E street band. Would like to have Tom Morello involved too.”
“Looking forward to a set that is 60% of ‘new material’ focused on ‘Letter’ and ‘Western Stars.’” — Jesse, Dallas, Texas, host of “Set Lusting Bruce”
“I just really started getting deep into Bruce this past year. I'm catching up as fast as I can because I realize how stupid I've been for decades now. I'm up to about 10 of his records now. They're all great, but ‘Darkness’ to me is at the top. What I don't understand, though, is how ‘Something in the Night’ gets little to no accolades or concert time. To me, it's his most powerful and best song. My mom just died a few months ago and it took on a huge meaning to me as I ‘rode down Kingsley’ after visiting her in the hospital so many times, wanting to get a drink to ease my pain. Although I'll love to see him for my first time regardless of the set list, I would be blown away if he played this song on tour.” — Rick, Cleveland, Ohio area
“It’s been tooooo long, two really hard years. I’ve missed two opportunities to meet Bruce, because of my disability, prior to COVID — though I have met Nils and Stevie. Bruce: Please please please come to see your fans in Cardiff/Wales again. I’m really looking forward to hearing tracks from ‘Born to Run’ and ‘Darkness’ in particular — this music has really helped in lockdown.” — Jayne, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
“Tracks 2 songs, ‘Letter to You' album, BITUSA & ‘The River’ outtakes: ‘Protection,’ ‘Savin' Up,’ ‘This Little Girl,’ ‘Homestead,’ ‘Another Thin Line,’ ‘Idiot's Delight,’ ‘Code of Silence,’ ‘Out of Work,’ ‘Wild Kisses’ … “ — Josep Maria, Catalonia, Spain
“I've been listening to Bruce since 1975 and have always enjoyed his music. Saw my first concert in 1978 and was hooked. He is a great storyteller. I don't have a particular reason for looking forward to a tour, other than I always feel good after seeing him. I understand he's getting older, as we all are, so don't expect the concerts of old, but ‘Jungleland’ has always been a favorite — off the new album one of my favorites is ‘If I Was the Priest.’ I would also love to see him perform ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ with Tom Morello one time. Love that version.” — Mary, Maryland
“Bruce and his band are still to this day the best live act on the planet; you always leave a show with goosebumps, and in total amazement at what you have just seen, and for me he can have any set list.” — George C., Aberdeen, Scotland
“New to BS world — only 1 concert so far. I would love to hear various tracks from all albums,
last two albums and lots of other classics. Anything Bruce does in concert will mean another lifetime experience for us.” — John and Grace, New Jersey
“He is the heartbeat of my soul. Every album since ‘Greetings from Asbury Park’ finds my heartstrings and no historical event escapes his narrative.”
“Would enjoy seeing Tom Morello tour with ESB again (had to miss the ‘High Hopes’ tour). Or John Mellencamp (that would be awesome).”
“Because it seems like a very long time since his last tour and we could all do with the amazing , uplifting and memorable occasion that a Springsteen gig delivers ,particularly after the stress, upheaval and misery of the pandemicu. Would settle for pretty well anything.” — Colin, Newcastle UK
“I would like to hear a little of everything except ‘Western Stars.’"
“Quite honestly, every concert I've attended has been magical. Always a surprise.” — Jake, Boston USA
“Patti Scialfa at all shows, including any European ones.”
“There is no other feeling in the world like being at a Bruce Springsteen concert! I am transported to a state of pure joy. I think Bruce needs us, the fans, as much as we need him — especially with the stress and isolation from the pandemic. I hope to hear ‘Backstreets,’ ‘The River,’ ‘New York City Serenade,’ ‘Mary’s Place,’ ‘Candy’s Room,’ etc.” — April, Ohio
“Just want to see Bruce back in shape (trained and fit, not slim as now), and able to rock in 2.5 hours (does not even have to hit the 3-hour mark or longer). Nils to make his spins, playing solos.” — Steen, Denmark
“I want Davey Sanctions (sic) back.”
“I want to see a return to his traditional concert structure: a show built around the newest album (‘Letter to You’), with an opener from that album, filled out with songs from his catalog that complement and extend the same themes. I would want to hear him do a song or two from ‘Western Stars’ with the band as well — whatever he thinks translates well in a rock show setting. I'd love a return to the two-set format, but that doesn't seem likely. I always want to hear a wide range of his work: rotate epics like ‘Backstreets,’ ‘Racing in the Street,’ ‘Jungleland,’ and ‘NYC Serenade’ in and out of the show, but also include plenty of garage rock like ‘Ramrod,’ ‘Out in the Street,’ and ‘Sherry Darling’ too. And every Springsteen w/ the E Street Band show should include ‘The Promised Land,’ ‘Born to Run,’ ‘"Badlands,’ ‘Tenth Avenue Freezeout,’ at least one song from his first album, and a killer cover in the encores.”
“There is no place I enjoy being more than in the crowd at at Bruce show. I’m 66, he’s 72, and who knows how many shows we all have left. Can’t wait!” — Jon, Kansas
“I would want him to focus on ‘Letter’ and all of his albums to be honest. I’m excited because he’s one of the few artists my mom and I both have a passion for, and as a present she got me tickets to see him on Broadway. So I want to return the favor and buy tickets for us to go see him. We’d obviously love to see all the songs be played, like ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ ‘Tenth Avenue,’ ‘Born to Run,’ etc., but also songs from ‘Letter’ and ‘The River.’ Honestly it’d just be great to go and see him with the E Street Band!”
“Another tour with a few new items from ‘Letter to You’ and hits. He seemed to change on Broadway to be a bit more introspective of life at 70 this time around. It seemed emotional and I loved it. We are all getting up there. ❤️” — Laura, New Jersey, USA
“Love to hear the vintage Bruce and the new stuff! I just moved to Las Vegas from California — hoping for a residency!!! Not looking forward to traveling a lot to see him on tour! Bruce and Dave Grohl!!?” — Linda, Las Vegas NV
“I’ve never been disappointed by a Springsteen show, so really they can play whatever they want. Just to feel the amazing positive energy that Bruce & the band generate when they play together (‘Can you feel the spirit?’) … that’s what we all need.” — Kingsley, Ex-Jersey Girl now UK
“Hardcore E Street, no horns. A change of itinerary and arenas (play Austin TX, Nancy FR, Prague CZ, Krakow PL, Seville SP...)” — Clement, France
“For a change, how about John Mellencamp being a support/opening act?” — James, Derbyshire, England, UK
“I truly missed Bruce & ESB concerts the last few years and can‘t wait to get that feeling again when you see them perform live! It‘s an overwhelming experience. I‘d love to hear ‘Jersey Girl,’ ‘Brilliant Disguise and ‘Tougher than …’ with Patti. Guest performances with the Killers, Tom Morello & Eddie Vedder always welcome :-). A good mixture of best of ESB songs along with songs from ‘Letter to You’ (especially ‘House of 1000 Guitars,’ ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams’…) would do it for me.” — Sabina, Germany
“Since the pandemic began, I watch and listen to his songs (going to work, on my days off, every hour, every minute of this year and a half) … His music inspired me and helped me not to fall into depression due to the pandemic, his music saved me from many evils. I just want him to come to Argentina and display his magic, I only ask God for that, to come sing to my country, Argentina.”
“I have a strong feeling this could be the last big E Street tour, would love to see the full band with horn section as with ‘Wrecking Ball’ tour. Make it spectacular and it would help give Bruce some breathers on stage. If it’s to be the last full band tour, go out in a blaze of glory.”
“Guest stars: John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne, Lana del Rey, Israel Nash, Liz Brasher, Mike Cambell. Tracks: ‘Janey Don’t You Lose Heart,’ ‘Fire,’ ‘Nebraska’ tracks, ‘Rising’ tracks. Covers: ‘Rockin’ in the Free World,’ ‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want,’ Runnin’ Down a Dream,’ ‘Savin’ Grace.’”
“I would like a full ‘Western Stars’ tour with Country Orchestra.” — Dave, Long Beach, NY, USA
“Whatever the f--- he wants to play. Just so long as it is loud and long.” — Craig, Washington state
“I want nothing more than for my children (ages 9 and 4) to be able to see a Springsteen concert with me. I get teary-eyed just imagining it.” — Scott, Toronto, Canada
“It’s no secret that Bruce mends broken hearts and saves lost souls. The world needs to see him on that stage more than ever. We need to be healed and we need Bruce and I think he needs us. I don’t care what he plays, as long as he is up on that stage and we are all together. ❤️” — Jane, Toronto, Canada
Michael, Ohio, USA. I am looking forward to this tour because I will finally get to take my 12-year-old daughter to see Bruce perform for the first time. She and I share a wonderful love of music and this has been on our co-wishlist for a number of years now.”
“Only Bruce’s music can bring us out of this horrible situation that the whole world has lived these past 18+ months. His music touches our souls and innermost emotions. I want to sing, laugh and cry again. I want the hope that his music brings. I would love to hear ‘None But the Brave,’ ‘Drive All Night,’ ‘Racing in the Street,’ ‘This Hard Land,’ ‘Thunder Road,’ and I’d love to share this with my two sons.”
“Besides at least five or six select ’Letter To You’ tracks, I'd like the rest of the set shaken up a bit, as, for me, aspects had gone a touch stale/predictable over recent tours. The encores especially: move/drop ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ for example, and use this space for songs that vary each night and more rarities (as an encore should be). A few more numbers from ‘Tunnel,’ ‘Magic’ and his non-E-street albums too. But, above all, please no more ‘Sunny Day’/’Mary's Place’! — James, London, UK
“It could very well be the last one, so I really hope to get all his classics live one more time, not new stuff.”
“Of course I miss Bruce, but I also miss being with all my people in the crowd. Traveling with family and friends to shows. Along with his music, it’s his other gift to us. I miss “setlusting” on Twitter with friends from around the world on any given show night. 2022 can’t come soon enough. ♥️” — Jenn, Canada
“All of it. A little of all of it. We’ve waited, listened to live boots, we all have favorites and there’s plenty of time in the show to give us all a little something … E Street and full horns!” — Carrie, Chatsworth, NJ
“Mixed emotions. You know it's gonna be the last.”