Release Date: Dec 14, 2018
Record label: Columbia
Springsteen on Broadway is history's most elaborate book plug. Springsteen on Broadway is an acoustic greatest hits (ish) set from Bruce Springsteen, wherein almost every song is introduced via a lengthy anecdote about his life or values - some of it culled verbatim from his bestselling autobiography Born to Run, some of it effectively an extension on that autobiography. Springsteen on Broadway is a very smart exercise in music biz savvy.
Before the Boss hit the boards at the Walter Kerr theater in October of 2017, no one really knew what to expect. While Springsteen has toured solo acoustic before, such as for 1995's The Ghost of Tom Joad or 2005's Devils and Dust, those were still concerts, within the established framework for such. And even though he has a reputation for storytelling even within E Street Band shows, the concept of what he intended--"My show is just me, the guitar, the piano, and the words and music.
Most artists are not honest about the level of artifice that goes into their carefully constructed public image. But Bruce Springsteen is not most artists. Never has been. Still, "Springsteen on Broadway'' is an unusually forthright act of self-demystification for a musical legend, especially one who counts among his passionate fans some who still cling to the belief there's not much daylight between Springsteen and the hardscrabble characters he writes about.
Live albums are, generally, hit and miss. They either come off too clean and pristine, sounding like a studio album with canned audience participations, or they're a gritty and dirty a thing of beauty. From the opening of 'Growin' Up' you realise that Bruce Springsteen's 24th live album, and 42nd album in total, is somewhere between the two and also neither at the same time.
T he announcement of his residency at New York's Walter Kerr theatre caused an immediate stampede for tickets, but the notion of Bruce Springsteen on Broadway seemed a strange one. He rose to fame as a purveyor of honest, bar-band rock, devoid of the ponderous flim-flam, elevated self-importance and glittery excess to which other 70s musicians were partial; a trustworthy teller of gritty truths about blue-collar America; a true believer in the primal power of rock'n'roll. He's a very odd fit among the razzle-dazzle of the Great White Way's other current musical offerings: Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, The Cher Show and Frozen.