Video post: Played only once! Bruce Springsteen's 2023 U.S. leg one-offs
You have to feel a little sorry for all the old-timers upset about the “static setlists” on the current Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour. Bruce did his darndest to convince people to go to just one show (“I know, what if we just make a bunch of the tickets randomly cost $5,000?”), but some tour travelers are clearly undeterred — and in some cases disappointed to see mostly the same songs and speeches from town to town, or stream to stream.
It’s definitely different this time around, as noted in a much-discussed tweet by Stevie Van Zandt, who has inexplicably somehow become the band’s PR representative.
And I don’t think Stevie is blowing smoke when he says that most like it — just speaking anecdotally, I get the impression there are a lot of first-timers or long-time-since-last-show-timers showing up to this tour, realizing it might be their last chance. They’re not there to collect “rarities” like baseball cards; they’re there for the power and the glory of the E Street Band experience, and IMO this tour is doling that out in spades. (Besides, I’ve long argued that Bruce’s setlists are only part of the reason for Springsteen’s stage success, and not even the biggest part.)
All that said, it’s worth noting that, unlike some artists whose setlists could have been carved on tablets and brought down the mountain by Moses, Bruce actually has mixed things up on this supposedly static tour. He’s had 16 one-offs — including more than a couple of site-specific “somethings special"— and several interesting trade-offs and ins-and-outs. ("Pay Me My Money Down" pinch hitting for "Johnny 99" would certainly qualify in that department.)
And as ever, he reads the crowd and acts accordingly, which could explain why band spokesman Mr. Van Zandt has declared the response to these shows as the most exuberant of any American audiences ever.
So for those of you seeking something different, take a gander below at the one-off performances that squeaked past the static for the lucky few who got them — but don’t forget to appreciate just how overall affecting and inspiring this tour has been so far, no matter what songs have turned up or haven’t. (And also, hold on to your hats for summer, when Bruce may really shake things up.)
Cadillac Ranch - Austin, TX
It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City - Brooklyn, NY
Ramrod - Hollywood, FL
Darkness On The Edge Of Town - Detroit, MI
Atlantic City - Cleveland, OH
Jungleland - Madison Square Garden, NY
Detroit Medley - Dallas, TX
Dirty Water - Boston, MA
Death To My Hometown - Milwaukee, WI
Working On The Highway - St. Paul, MN
Mansion On The Hill - Hollywood, FL
Born In The USA - Elmont, NY
Brilliant Disguise - Tampa, FL
Night - Houston, TX
Local Hero - Newark, NJ
Jersey Girl - Newark, NJ