Bruce Springsteen 1992–1993 World Tour
|Bruce Springsteen World Tour 1992-1993|
|Tour by Bruce Springsteen|
|Associated album||Human Touch, Lucky Town|
|Start date||June 15, 1992|
|End date||June 1, 1993|
|Bruce Springsteen tour chronology|
The Bruce Springsteen 1992–1993 World Tour was a concert tour featuring Bruce Springsteen and a new backing band, that took place from mid-1992 to mid-1993. It followed the simultaneous release of his albums Human Touch and Lucky Town earlier in 1992. It was his first of four non-E Street Band tours. Later, Springsteen had more non-E Street Band tours, the Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, the Seeger Sessions Tour, and the Devils & Dust Tour. The tour was not as commercially or critically successful as past tours, due to poor reception of Human Touch and Lucky Town as well as changes from previous tours. According to Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh, die-hard fans have informally referred to the backing band as "the Other Band" (and the tour as "The Other Band Tour").
The tour was preceded by a June 5, 1992 U.S. "dress rehearsal" radio broadcast of the new band. Springsteen said, "I missed playing. I missed getting out. I missed the fans. I've been home awhile. I've worked hard on the records." The tour's first leg was conducted in arenas in Western Europe, opening on June 15, 1992 at the Globen in Stockholm. Springsteen said, "It's nice to start the tour here. It's nice to be back among people who have always been hospitable." After 15 dates there, including five at London's Wembley Arena, the tour came home to the United States.
There, the second leg began in late July with a then-record 11 consecutive dates in New Jersey's Meadowlands Arena. It continued in arenas through the U.S. and Canada, for a total of 61 shows through mid-December.
Springsteen then took a three-month winter break, before starting up again in late March for the third leg, a longer stint in Western Europe that played 31 dates there, some in outdoor stadiums. The tour proper ended on June 1, 1993 in Oslo's Valle Hovin.
The 1992-1993 Tour Backing Band
Springsteen had dissolved his long-time backing E Street Band in 1989, and had not used them on Human Touch and Lucky Town. This tour was his first time out with another group. Looking for a somewhat different sound, he assembled an outfit that gave him both more guitar-based arrangements and a more R&B-based feel with more backup singers; gone were the organ and saxophone key elements of the traditional E Street sound.
Keyboardist Roy Bittan was the only E Street Band member retained. Most of the rest of the touring band were experienced session musicians who were not well-known to the general music audience. Better-known ace session drummer Jeff Porcaro, who had played on Human Touch, was supposedly offered $1 million to join the tour, but instead stayed with his band Toto.
Springsteen's new wife and previous E Street backup singer Patti Scialfa was not a regular member of this band, but made guest appearances at many shows to duet with Springsteen on "Brilliant Disguise" and "Human Touch".
Shows typically began with several selections from the new albums—typically the self-described happy songs "Better Days", "Local Hero", and "Lucky Town"—and not surprisingly emphasized the new material throughout. Slots for older songs were mostly given to numbers from his massively-selling mid-1980s Born in the U.S.A. album.
Highlights from the new material included Springsteen crowd surfing during "Leap of Faith"; nature imagery motifs running through the show and culminating with frequent show closer "My Beautiful Reward"; a distortion-fest on "57 Channels (And Nothing On)", one of several numbers where the band's sound verged on heavy metal; and the emotional peak of "Living Proof" with its U2-styled synthesizer settings.
The main set closer continued to be "Light of Day", a role that it had assumed in the Tunnel of Love Express and here was elongated with an "I'm just a prisoner ... of Rock and Roll!" rap, while the band introductions song was "Glory Days" in the encores.
Springsteen 1970s classics that were heavily identified with the E Street Band sound were finessed either by rearranging them ("Thunder Road" was recast on acoustic guitar), avoiding them (gone were the epics "Backstreets", "Jungleland", and "Racing in the Street"), or just doing it (multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero won praise for the thankless job of performing the one saxophone part all night, that of Clarence Clemons' break in "Born to Run"). Springsteen's biggest hit single, 1984's "Dancing in the Dark", was stripped down to near-solo electric guitar and given a tired, weary reading, before being dropped from the set lists altogether.
Commercial and critical reaction
The tour played a large number of dates and sold many tickets. The eleven-show stint in the Meadowlands surpassed his 10-show run there in the first leg of the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, but ticket demand was much higher then; here, the shows were not actually sold out at start time. Ticket sales were strong along the Eastern Seaboard, but weaker in areas such as Cleveland and Detroit, a reflection of the two albums' lackluster sales performance and failure to generate much in the way of hit singles.
Critical reception of the tour was varied. Lars Lindstrom reviewed the opening Stockholm show for Back Beat and said, "the musicians have not yet become a band - and they lack the moments of total togetherness both musically and physically. Only singer and percussionist Crystal Taliefero [...] and singer Bobby King have the undisputed charisma." USA Today nationally visible music writer Edna Gundersen thought very highly of the opening New Jersey show, saying that "For those doubting that such [domestic bliss and] inner contentment can co-exist with rebellious rock passion, Springsteen offers living proof: an emotionally resonating, downright rowdy 27-song rock 'n' roll shindig." She also said that the new band was "a cohesive force worthy of succeeding the crack E Street Band," and also called out Taliefero for praise. The New York Times's Jon Pareles, reviewing the same show, also commented about the show's themes of "the healing power and everyday complications of love," and said that "Mr. King brings a falsetto gospel to songs with a touch of 1960's soul music, while Ms. Taliefero is a sassy female foil." Matty Karas of the Asbury Park Press wrote that "The whole show seemed something of a monologue on what he's been up to: getting divorced, getting remarried, having children, changing bands, sorting out a rocky life, falling off the pop charts, realizing there are more important things in life than rock 'n' roll and realizing you need to rock 'n' roll anyway. Mirroring his real life, it was as directly autobiographical a show as he's ever performed."
Fan response fell roughly into three categories:
- Those who welcomed the new sound and thought highly of the shows
- Those who were open to a new sound but did not think that this particular band hit the mark
- Those who were aghast at the very notion of departing from the E Street sound.
It is impossible to measure the relative proportion of these; among the Springsteen faithful, the most common verdict over time has been that they enjoyed the shows while they were there, but have not felt cause to revisit them (via bootleg or official recordings) since. However, Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh later wrote that the Springsteen hard-core fan base had rejected the tour because "its sound was somewhat blacker." Whatever the cause, certain new numbers such as "Big Muddy" and "If I Should Fall Behind" were completely ineffective in the United States, eliciting an exodus to the beer and bathroom lines and minimal applause afterward.
Several specific developments did annoy fans. One was the general discovery that Springsteen was using a Teleprompter to remember his words by. It soon became clear that he was dependent upon the device, as for on long lyrics such as "Thunder Road" he would check the screen a good eight or nine times. A similar discovery was made by those seated behind the stage, that drummer Zak Alford was using a red-LED metronome to keep proper time. Finally was the unexpected outcome of the band's MTV Unplugged appearance, where Springsteen lost the confidence in the band and after one acoustic song, did the rest of the concert in normal electric mode, thus violating the show's fundamental premise. This did result in the In Concert/MTV Plugged album release, which documents what the 1992-1993 Tour band sounded like.
In the end, the fact that this was still a rock band, with a still conventional instrumental line-up, meant that it would be directly compared with the E Street Band and thus find it hard to establish a significant identity of its own. Over a decade later, Springsteen would solve this problem in his next non-E Street Band, non-solo tour, the Sessions Band Tour, where the makeup of the band and of their sound was utterly different from anything before and thus impossible to compare.
Broadcasts and recordings
As previously mentioned, a national radio rehearsal show and the abortive MTV Plugged show, the latter of which as In Concert/MTV Plugged was released in audio on CD and in video on VHS and later DVD formats.
- Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, guitar & harmonica
- Shane Fontayne – guitar
- Tommy Sims – bass
- Zachary Alford – drums
- Roy Bittan – keyboards
- Crystal Taliefero – guitar, percussion & background vocals, saxophone on "Born to Run"
- Bobby King – background vocals
- Gia Ciambotti – background vocals
- Carol Dennis – background vocals
- Cleopatra Kennedy – background vocals
- Angel Rogers – background vocals
- Patti Scialfa – guest appearances for guitar & harmony vocals on "Brilliant Disguise" and "Human Touch"
- See Marsh, Dave (2006). Bruce Springsteen on Tour, 1968-2005. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN 1596912820. On page 194, Marsh writes that the 'Other Band' term first came from "Bruce's cult", which "expressed itself in Internet discussion groups, fanzines, and parking lots before shows." Marsh then adopts the term himself in writing about the tour. For example, on page 198, he states of fans' impressions of the tour, "The idea seemed to be that anything Bruce did with the Other Band that he hadn't done with the E Street Band indicated error." On page 204 he writes, "Human Touch and Lucky Town, the Other Band and the tour, even Bruce's split with Juli ... combined to crack the illusion of a solid bond between the artist and his audience." On page 208, he begins a chapter with, "The Other Band Tour lasted almost exactly a year, from June 15, 1992, in Stockholm to June 26, 1993, at Madison Square Garden in New York."
- AP story June 1992
- William Ruhlmann, Jeff Porcaro biography, Allmusic. Accessed April 19, 2007.
- Asbury Park Press, July 25, 1992.
- Asbury Park Press, July 19, 1992.
- Killing Floor's concert database supplies the itinerary and set lists for the shows, but unfortunately does not support direct linking to individual dates.
- Brucebase the same, with ticket and promotional images as well.