No big shoe from Springsteen at Central Park concert (but there's plenty of other Bruce news)
It seemed a little fishy from the get-go: Bruce Springsteen was coming back for two-plus more months of "Springsteen on Broadway," and headlining a massive concert in Central Park? For a notorious perfectionist like him, it seemed like a lot to commit to after a year and a half stuck in the house.
Thanks to some excellent reporting by Backstreets.com, we now know the true story: Bruce's involvement in the concert will be much more limited, maybe as little as one song (a duet with Patti Smith.) Per Backstreets:
"Bruce agreed to make an appearance in a guest capacity," a source with knowledge of the concert arrangements tells Backstreets, "but he will not be a headliner for the show."
In the New York Times, Ben Sisario writes that "Springsteen is expected to perform a duet with Patti Smith, according to a person briefed on the plans." We can't confirm specifics, and no one really knows what Bruce is going to do until he does it, but that's likely the level at which he will be involved.
Backstreets also reports that the "headlining" part might have just been a press conference ad lib by a clearly overly excited Mayor Bill DiBlasio, who is a dufus. (Editorial opinion ours.)
So the message is, don't drop everything and hightail it to NYC on Aug. 21 in the hopes of getting a full set from your favorite Jersey rocker. (Insert Bon Jovi joke here.) Might be better off watching the inevitable live broadcast.
But that's not to say there isn't plenty to be excited about in Springsteen Country. For one, he did find time to squeeze in another episode of "From My Home to Yours" on SiriusXM: "Night Time is the Right Time," as usual handily transcribed by Jay Lustig at NJarts.net. (And for good measure, Jay also provides a list of every song Bruce has played over all 24 episodes, if you're a completist type.)
Also, his barrage of guest appearances continue: To sum up, Springsteen has now turned up on songs by Bleachers and The Killers, will contribute to three tracks on the upcoming album by John Mellencamp, and will join Patti for another collaboration with Dion, per the legendary singer himself, who just announced his follow-up to 2020's "Blues With Friends."
Also, in addition to raves for the Broadway return (don't forget to try the $75 lottery if $750 tickets aren't your bag), the reopening has spurred a spurt of think pieces, reaction posts and general Bruce buzzery. Plus, a short but incisive interview with Chris Jordan for the USA Today network explaining the changes Bruce brought to the new production:
“It just happened very naturally, it’s organic,” said Springsteen in a phone interview. “The minute I started rehearsing the show, things started to change. You begin to go over your spoken sections and other things suggest themselves related to what’s been going on for the last couple of years of your life or in general.”
Here are some more links to peruse, including a deep dive back-and-forth from the NY Times, a long Q&A with Jon Landau in Variety, and a Rolling Stone flashback celebrating the addition of "Fire" to Bruce's Broadway repertoire:
New York Times: "Springsteen on Broadway: Showing Us How Many Lives We Contain"
Variety: "Bruce Springsteen’s Manager Jon Landau Talks ‘Broadway’ Return, COVID Protocol and Cutting ‘Born to Run’ From the Set"
Vanity Fair: "Anti-Vaccine Protesters Can’t Stop The Boss: Springsteen on Broadway Returns"
The Irish Times: "‘It’s controlled insanity’: At Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway theatre, the New York crowds are back"
Rolling Stone: "Flashback: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Play ‘Fire’ in 1978"
Far Out: "From Bob Dylan to Prince: Bruce Springsteen's 10 greatest covers"