Bruce Springsteen Criticizes Trump In New Protest Song

There was a startling moment early in the second hour of “Springsteen on Broadway” at the Walter Kerr Theatre in New York City on Saturday night: Bruce Springsteen sat down at the piano, pounded out the opening notes of his barn-burner “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and then looked quizzically at the audience, which had been quietly enraptured for most of his remarkable show.

“It’s OK to get excited,” Springsteen said with a grin, prompting a roar and a hefty amount of “Broooooce”ing.

His comment gave the show a jolt, but since when does the audience at a Bruce Springsteen show need permission to get rowdy? If the greatest live performer of his generation has to tell his audience it’s all right to make noise and have fun, doesn’t that mean something’s wrong?

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Nope. In the case of “Springsteen on Broadway,” it means something is very, very right. If the audience on Saturday night needed a cue to snap out of their rapt silence, it’s because Springsteen had created a air of intimacy so all-encompassing that his fans didn’t even cheer for the opening notes of old favorites like “Thunder Road” and “The Promised Land” lest they break a mood of unparalleled delicacy.

That is perhaps the most surprising thing about the show, which opened on October 12 and is booked through February. Nearly 50 years after he came out of New Jersey with a batch of wordy songs and a drive that would make him an icon, Springsteen is doing something that feels wholly new.

As a fan for virtually his entire career, I wasn’t sure that was possible. I’ve seen him in smaller places than the Walter Kerr Theater, which only seats 970; I’ve seen him play acoustically nine times over the years; and I’ve seen plenty of Springsteen shows full of stories about his growing up, which he told regularly in his early days.

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But “Springsteen on Broadway,” which draws partly from his song catalog and partly from his recent autobiography, “Born to Run,” manages to be revelatory not only to casual fans — “wow,” the man behind me said after almost every song in the first half of the show — but also to diehards.

It does so by forging a new approach for Springsteen, by using the songs to back up and illustrate the stories he’s telling, and mixing them into a seamless tapestry that brought many audience members to tears.

He spends the first few moments onstage talking to us, not singing to us — and when he moves into his early song “Growin’ Up,” the youthful bravado and brazen mythmaking are set off by the introspection and confession (“I come from a boardwalk town where almost everything is tinged with a bit of fraud. So am I”) that preceded it.

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Where Springsteen sometimes races through that song in his E Street Band concerts, he sinks into it and caresses it in “Springsteen on Broadway.” He does that with the other material, too, using a heartfelt “My Hometown” to punctuate stories about his childhood home, a haunted “My Father’s House” to detail his conflicted feelings about his dad, a rapturous “The Wish” to pay loving tribute to his mother, a gentle “Thunder Road” to capture the glorious sense of escape he had when he first left his hometown.

The songs are not chosen because they’re hits — some are, some aren’t — but because they’re key to the story he’s telling. If Springsteen’s shows have always had elements of autobiography, they’ve really been about the people around him — but this show is about the person inside him first and foremost, and then by extension about the rest of us.

Much of what he says comes from his book, but it’s been rearranged and tailored to fit this form in a way that turns the neat trick of being both eloquent and conversational. After the opening half hour, it gets more thematic and less chronological; it’s an evocative and moving portrait, but not a complete picture by any means. You don’t get the full measure of his conflicts with his father, and he says nothing about the crippling depression that has affected him throughout his career.

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In his book, he wrote this about his celebrated concerts: “The show provided me the illusion of intimacy without risk or consequences. During the show, as good as it is, as real as the emotions called upon are, as physically moving and as hopefully inspirational as I work to make it, it’s fiction, theater, a creation; it isn’t reality.”

“Springsteen on Broadway” isn’t reality, either, and it’s clearly theater. But you cannot watch the show without feeling that Springsteen is sharing something profound about his life and his art, and is doing so in a bold and fresh form that everyone in the theater is privileged to experience. (It won’t be the same, but he needs to film one of these shows.)

Sure, there was some of the old Bruce on the stage of the Walter Kerr, particularly after things loosened up with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and he was joined by his wife, Patti Scialfa, for a pair of tender duets. In the homestretch, “Long Walk Home” was a sobering rejoinder to today’s divisive politics, “Dancing in the Dark” a nod to his arena-rock days and “Land of Hope and Dreams,” as always, a glorious way to bring it all back home.

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At the end of the night, Springsteen described driving back to the town where he grew up, and finding that the huge beech tree he often took refuge in as a child had been cut down. But then, he said, he realized that the tree was still there, in the same way that his family and his lost friends were, too: “We remain in the air, the empty space, in the dusty roots and deep earth, in the echo and stories, the songs of the time and place we have inhabited.”

It was a breathtaking moment, which led into a tender recitation of the Lord’s Prayer (once a Catholic, always a Catholic), and then into his signature song, “Born to Run.” In 1988, when Springsteen performed acoustic versions of this rock anthem on his “Tunnel of Love” tour, the solo arrangement was muted; the song was an elegy, a ghost of itself.

But the “Springsteen on Broadway” version of “Born to Run” has a drive and lift to it. Just as he found his old neighborhood rife with the spirits of those who have gone, the acoustic bones of this “Born to Run” are alive with our memories of the ringing electric guitar riffs, the charging drums, the sax solo — hell, the glockenspiel is in there, too.

There’s a life, a journey, a community, an entire history in this “Born to Run.” And then Springsteen brings it all down to a tender, intimate coda: One man standing alone, strumming and tapping on a guitar, telling his story — our story — in a way he’s never done before.

Last 25 Super Bowl Halftime Shows Ranked, Including Lady Gaga in Super Bowl LI (Videos)

  • 25. Black Eyed Peas (2011) Before this show, young 'uns were celebrating the end of the halftime show being owned by the "retirement home." Afterwards, the old folks were smugly smirking. The Peas were absolutely abominable, with stiff choreography and mailed-in vocals that made The Who seem 40 years younger. The absolute worst moment came when Slash arrived to save the day, only for Fergie to commit a cardinal sin against rock by mangling "Sweet Child O' Mine." Later in 2011, the Peas' new album got panned, their motion-sensor video game bombed, and by year's end, they announced they were going on hiatus.

  • 24. Indiana Jones (1995) If you thought Katy Perry's shark was weird, get a load of this. Disney used this halftime show to promote its new Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland, and it featured Indy (

    not played by Harrison Ford) trying to steal a plastic Vince Lombardi trophy from a temple. Throw in a lip-synching Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett, and you have a real stinker.

  • 23. The Who (2010) Let's make something clear: The Who are absolute legends. They are essential not just to rock, but to all of music. But unlike previous classic rock acts, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend really felt past their prime in this performance, and that's the worst thing you can do at a show like this. Some have speculated that since Roger and Pete had never seen an American football game before, they may not have realized just how big this gig was in American culture.

  • 22. James Brown, ZZ Top, and the Blues Brothers (1997) Another lineup that seemed great on paper and disappointed in reality. The Godfather of Soul was forced to blatantly lip-sync his greatest hits, and Jim Belushi cavorted around the stage doing a weak imitation of his brother John in his iconic role.

  • 21. Phil Collins, Enrique Iglesias, and Christina Aguilera (2000) Wow! Look at that lineup! By all rights, that should be a smash show. But it ended up being a Disney-produced bore about the "Tapestry of Nations." Instead of thumping out Genesis songs, Collins got stuck doing one of the songs he wrote for "Tarzan." Iglesias and Aguilera did a duet called "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand." Amazingly, Xtina would go on to hit a bigger low at the Super Bowl when she flubbed the National Anthem a decade later.

  • 20. Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting (2003) This one is just forgettable, particularly since after the game, Bon Jovi stole the spotlight by singing "It's My Life" just before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awarded the trophy. Gwen Stefani teaming up with Sting to do "Message in a Bottle" almost saved this show. Almost.

  • 19. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds (1994) Super Bowl XXVIII tapped country music stars for an ultimately unmemorable “Rockin’ Country Sunday” halftime show. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and Wynonna Judd all performed a few of their hits, with Naomi Judd joining her daughter on stage for the finale, “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

  • 18. Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Savion Glover (1999) The seemingly random lineup of Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder and swing revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy combined to make 1999's halftime show a high-energy affair. There was even a cameo by E.T. (the extra-terrestrial) to help stump for Progressive auto insurance, who sponsored the show.

  • 17. Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations (1998) In celebration of Motown's 40th anniversary, Boyz II Men led the Super Bowl XXXII halftime show, with assists from legends like Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves and the Temptations. The 40 years of age come through in this one, though. While it's a fun set, it ultimately doesn't strike too lasting a chord.

  • 16. The Rolling Stones (2006) Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones took a break from the world tour supporting their 24th studio album "A Bigger Bang" in 2006 to perform at the halftime show for Super Bowl XL. The Stones turned in a lot of energy, but the NFL snipped a few of Mick's racier lyrics in the pre-recorded tape, leaving Mick a bit miffed.

  • 15. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (2008) More concerned with performance than spectacle, Tom Petty opened the Super Bowl XLII halftime show with crowd favorites "American Girl" and "I Won't Back Down." Petty's performance didn't blow any doors off, but it nailed all the hits and gave everyone a solid show.

  • 14. Lady Gaga (2017) Gaga kicked it off by jumping off the roof of Reliant Stadium, which was incredibly awesome. Everything that came after, by comparison, seemed rather mundane, with no guests artists or anything particularly surprising happening. It was a solid Lady Gaga show, to be sure -- but for the the Super Bowl we need something more.

  • 13. Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014) Following Beyonce at the Super Bowl must have been a daunting prospect, but Bruno Mars still managed to put on a good show with a little help from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Unfortunately, it came out later the band wasn't actually playing its own instruments, which marred the whole show a bit.

  • 12. Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Cee Lo Green (2012) Madonna's halftime show wound up being a bit chaotic. It featured a slew of guests, including Nicki Minaj and Cee Lo Green, and went all-in on being an over-the-top spectacle. Through it all, the most memorable moment may have been M.I.A. flipping the bird on live TV. NFL sued over the move, in fact, but wound up settling.

  • 11. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake (2004) Ah, yes. Maybe this isn't the best, but it was definitely among the most memorable. Janet and Justin were doing a rendition of "Rock Your Body" that was absolutely smoking ... until the smoke turned into a PTC wildfire. In hindsight, the wardrobe malfunction might have saved this show. Does anyone even remember that Nelly, Diddy, and Kid Rock also performed that night?

  • 10. Diana Ross (1996) The halftime show went through some growing pains in the 1990s, but Diana Ross' soulful performance at Super Bowl XXX was definitely a high point. Her dramatic exit via helicopter was a precursor for the larger-than-life moments that later performers would pick up.

  • 9. Paul McCartney (2005) Sir Paul's show marked the beginning of the six-year classic rock era of halftime shows following the backlash from Janet Jackson's notorious wardrobe malfunction in 2004, and what a breath of fresh air it was. McCartney knew exactly what songs from his catalog would fill up a football stadium. Starting with "Drive My Car," pumping through with "Live And Let Die," and finishing with the crowd pleaser "Hey Jude," this show showed how sometimes the old ways are the best.

  • 8. Katy Perry (2015) This is a halftime show that we'll look back at as emblematic of its time. Katy's show was loud, weird, and specifically tailored to the Internet's tendency to latch onto viral moments and meme the fajezzus out of them. But in terms of actual musical performances, the real star was Missy Elliott, who strutted out in a surprise appearance and blew the crowd away. She didn't steal the spotlight. She commandeered it.

  • 7. Prince (2007) Super Bowl XLI took place under a torrential Florida downpour, but that played right into Prince's hands. His performance of "Purple Rain" amid raindrops turned purple by stage lights was breathtaking, as was his take on Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower."

  • 6. Beyonce (2013) Of course she's on this list. It's BEYONCE, for crying out loud. She has a stage presence that is unrivaled by any musician of her generation. But what really made her show unique wasn't just the surprise Destiny's Child reunion. It was also the fact that she actually paid respect to the event by starting her show with a soundbite from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi.

  • 5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2009) Wasn't Super Bowl XLIII amazing? Not only did it have one of the most dramatic championship games ever between the Steelers and Cardinals, but it also had a performance from The Boss that was the apex of the classic rock era. From his order to "put the chicken fingers DOOOOWN" to his knee-slide right into the camera, Springsteen was on a mission to get everyone out of their seats. Mission accomplished, sir.

  • 4. Aerosmith and 'N Sync (2001) Okay, okay. Some older readers might be annoyed that a show with "Bye Bye Bye" and Britney Spears got ranked above one with "Born to Run" and "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out," but back in 2001 this lineup was a big deal. After struggling through the '90s, the NFL gave control of the halftime show to MTV, who responded by gathering the biggest Top 40 heavyweights that could be found. The sight of Aerosmith performing "Walk This Way" with Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and the biggest boy band of all time in 'N Sync was the kind of show the NFL had been dreaming of for years.

  • 3. Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars (2016) Coldplay was the official act, but they turned their show into a tribute to all the halftimes that came before. Bruno returned with "Uptown Funk" under his belt, while Beyonce began her domination of 2016 with a tribute to the Black Panthers. Coldplay, meanwhile, turned out "Viva La Vida" complete with a kid orchestra led by maestro Gustavo Dudamel and a colorful crowd card stunt that showed Up With People how its done.

  • 2. Michael Jackson (1993) The one that started it all. MJ's reign as the King of Pop was coming to an end at this time ... and the beginning of his creeper reputation began later that year with the first wave of sexual abuse allegations. But he still had enough star power to make the halftime show a must-watch event for the first time ever. The children's choir performance of "We Are the World," followed by Jackson's dramatic finale performance of "Heal the World," became a defining moment of his career, one that would be reenacted 16 years later at his memorial service at the Staples Center.

  • 1. U2 (2002) There will likely never be a halftime show bigger than this one. Mounted just four months after 9/11, U2's show was a perfect mix of poignant remembrance and breathtaking musicianship. In a beautiful tribute, U2 performed "Where the Streets Have No Name" in front of a scrolling list of those who perished in the terror attack. To this day, the show still draws tears.

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Where does Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl 51 halftime performance chart for mid-game extravaganzas?

25. Black Eyed Peas (2011) Before this show, young 'uns were celebrating the end of the halftime show being owned by the "retirement home." Afterwards, the old folks were smugly smirking. The Peas were absolutely abominable, with stiff choreography and mailed-in vocals that made The Who seem 40 years younger. The absolute worst moment came when Slash arrived to save the day, only for Fergie to commit a cardinal sin against rock by mangling "Sweet Child O' Mine." Later in 2011, the Peas' new album got panned, their motion-sensor video game bombed, and by year's end, they announced they were going on hiatus.

Source :

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