Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Reunion Tour

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Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Reunion Tour
BruceESBReunionTour.jpg
Tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Start date April 9, 1999
End date July 1, 2000
Legs 3
Shows 133
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert chronology
Ghost of Tom Joad Tour
(1995–1997)
Reunion Tour
(1999–2000)
The Rising Tour
(2002–2003)

The Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Reunion Tour was a lengthy, top-grossing concert tour featuring Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band that took place over 1999 and 2000.

The tour was the first set of regular concerts given by Springsteen and the E Street Band in eleven years, since the 1988 Tunnel of Love Express and Human Rights Now! Tours, and followed two lengthy tours by Springsteen without the Band in the intervening years.

The tour was not intended to promote any Springsteen records; the release of the box set Tracks six months earlier had been oriented towards the holiday shopping market, and no longer held any chart action by the time of the tour. The release of the cut-down, single disc 18 Tracks did coincide with the start of the tour [1], but received little publicity or sales.

Itinerary[edit]

Tour preparations began in March 1999 with a series of rehearsals at Asbury Park, New Jersey's Convention Hall. Several dozen of the Springsteen faithful, eager with anticipation at what the long-awaited reunion might bring, stood outside the Hall on the cold and windy boardwalk and beach, hearing what they could from inside the walls and reporting their findings on several Springsteen Internet forums. It was during one of these sessions that fans first heard runthroughs of "The Train Song", which would become the tour's closing epic "Land of Hope and Dreams". This practice of listening in on rehearsals would continue for all of Springsteen's subsequent tours. Springsteen then held two public rehearsal concerts in Convention Hall, a practice that would also continue for tours to come.

Springsteen opted to start the Reunion Tour in Europe, perhaps to get the show in top shape before coming home to greater attention. The first leg of the tour formally began on April 9, 1999 with the first of two nights in Barcelona's Palau Sant Jordi. Barcelona was in the process of becoming one of the strongest centers of Springsteen popularity, and additionally there were hundreds of travelling fans in attendance. The Europe leg would run through the end of June, finishing in Oslo, and encompass 37 shows in all, featuring a mixture of arenas and stadiums and often playing two nights in a location.

Two weeks later the second leg commenced back in the United States, and took place solely in arenas. It began with 15 consecutive shows in New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena. More multi-night stands followed, as the tour concentrated on Springsteen hot spots such as Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles. After 52 shows, the leg finished in Minneapolis in the end of November.

A three-month winter break ensued. The third leg started up in late February 2000 with a show at Penn State University. This leg focused on mostly single-night stands in areas that hadn't been reached on the previous leg, including a couple of dates in Canada, and again took place in arenas. Totalling 44 shows, it concluded in June with 10 consecutive dates in New York's Madison Square Garden, ending on July 1, 2000.

In all, the tour played 133 shows in 62 cities over a span of 15 months.

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
Leg 1 - Europe
April 9, 1999 Barcelona Spain Palau Sant Jordi
April 11, 1999
April 13, 1999 Munich Germany Olympiahalle
April 15, 1999 Cologne Koelnarena
April 17, 1999 Bologna Italy Palasport
April 19, 1999 Milan Fila Forum
April 20, 1999
April 23, 1999 Regensburg Germany Donau Arena
April 24, 1999 Vienna Austria Wiener Stadthalle
April 26, 1999 Zurich Switzerland Hallenstadion
April 28, 1999 Lyon France Halle Tony Garnier
May 1, 1999 Manchester England Manchester Evening News Arena
May 2, 1999
May 16, 1999 Birmingham NEC Arena
May 18, 1999 London Earls Court Exhibition Centre
May 19, 1999
May 21, 1999
May 23, 1999
May 25, 1999 Dublin Ireland RDS Arena
May 27, 1999 Ghent Belgium Flanders Expo
May 29, 1999 Berlin Germany Parkbühne Wuhlheide
May 30, 1999
June 2, 1999 Paris France Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy
June 3, 1999
June 5, 1999 Zaragoza Spain La Romareda
June 7, 1999 Madrid Estadio La Peineta
June 11, 1999 Genoa Italy Stadio Luigi Ferraris
June 13, 1999 Leipzig Germany Bruno-Plache-Stadion
June 15, 1999 Offenbach Stadion am Bieberer Berg
June 17, 1999 Bremen Weserstadion
June 19, 1999 Arnhem The Netherlands Gelredome
June 20, 1999
June 23, 1999 Stockholm Sweden Stockholm Olympic Stadium
June 24, 1999
June 26, 1999 Copenhagen Denmark Parken Stadium
June 27, 1999 Oslo Norway Valle Hovin
Leg 2 - North America
July 15, 1999 East Rutherford, New Jersey United States Continental Airlines Arena
July 18, 1999
July 20, 1999
July 24, 1999
July 26, 1999
July 27, 1999
July 29, 1999
August 1, 1999
August 2, 1999
August 4, 1999
August 6, 1999
August 7, 1999
August 9, 1999
August 11, 1999
August 12, 1999
August 21, 1999 Boston, Massachusetts FleetCenter
August 22, 1999
August 24, 1999
August 25, 1999
August 27, 1999
August 31, 1999 Washington, D.C. MCI Center
September 1, 1999
September 3, 1999
September 8, 1999 Auburn Hills, Michigan The Palace of Auburn Hills
September 9, 1999
September 13, 1999 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania First Union Center
September 15, 1999
September 20, 1999
September 21, 1999
September 24, 1999 First Union Spectrum
September 25, 1999 First Union Center
September 27, 1999 Chicago, Illinois United Center
September 28, 1999
September 30, 1999
October 15, 1999 Phoenix, Arizona America West Arena
October 17, 1999 Los Angeles, California Staples Center
October 18, 1999
October 21, 1999
October 23, 1999
October 25, 1999 Oakland, California Oakland Arena
October 26, 1999
October 28, 1999
November 6, 1999 Fargo, North Dakota Fargodome
November 9, 1999 Milwaukee, Wisconsin Bradley Center
November 10, 1999 Indianapolis, Indiana Conseco Fieldhouse
November 14, 1999 Cleveland, Ohio Gund Arena
November 15, 1999
November 17, 1999 Columbus, Ohio Value City Arena
November 19, 1999 Buffalo, New York Marine Midland Arena
November 21, 1999 Albany, New York Pepsi Arena
November 28, 1999 Minneapolis, Minnesota Target Center
November 29, 1999
Leg 3 - North America
February 28, 2000 University Park, Pennsylvania United States Bryce Jordan Center
March 4, 2000 Orlando, Florida Orlando Arena
March 6, 2000 Tampa, Florida Ice Palace
March 9, 2000 Sunrise, Florida National Car Rental Center
March 10, 2000
March 13, 2000 Dallas, Texas Reunion Arena
March 14, 2000 Little Rock, Arkansas Alltel Arena
March 18, 2000 Memphis, Tennessee Pyramid Arena
March 19, 2000 New Orleans, Louisiana New Orleans Arena
March 30, 2000 Denver, Colorado Pepsi Center
March 31, 2000
April 3, 2000 Portland, Oregon Rose Garden
April 4, 2000 Tacoma, Washington Tacoma Dome
April 8, 2000 St. Louis, Missouri Kiel Center
April 9, 2000 Kansas City, Missouri Kemper Arena
April 12, 2000 Nashville, Tennessee Nashville Arena
April 15, 2000 Louisville, Kentucky Freedom Hall
April 17, 2000 Austin, Texas Frank Erwin Center
April 18, 2000 Houston, Texas Compaq Center
April 21, 2000 Charlotte, North Carolina Charlotte Coliseum
April 22, 2000 Raleigh, North Carolina RBC Center
April 25, 2000 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mellon Arena
April 26, 2000
April 30, 2000 Cincinnati, Ohio Firstar Center
May 3, 2000 Toronto, Ontario Canada Air Canada Centre
May 4, 2000
May 7, 2000 Hartford, Connecticut United States Hartford Civic Center
May 8, 2000
May 21, 2000 Anaheim, California Anaheim Pond
May 22, 2000
May 27, 2000 Las Vegas, Nevada MGM Grand Garden Arena
May 29, 2000 Salt Lake City, Utah Delta Center
June 3, 2000 Atlanta, Georgia Philips Arena
June 4, 2000
June 12, 2000 New York City, New York Madison Square Garden
June 15, 2000
June 17, 2000
June 20, 2000
June 22, 2000
June 23, 2000
June 26, 2000
June 27, 2000
June 29, 2000
July 1, 2000

Postponed concerts:

1999-08-16 - THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS, AUBURN HILLS, MI, rescheduled to September 8, 1999
1999-08-17 - THE PALACE OF AUBURN HILLS, AUBURN HILLS, MI, rescheduled to September 9, 1999
1999-09-16 - FIRST UNION SPECTRUM, PHILADELPHIA, PA, rescheduled to September 24, 1999 due to heavy rains caused by a hurricane.
1999-11-03 - TARGET CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, rescheduled to November 28, 1999 due to Patti Scialfa's perforated eardrum.
1999-11-04 - TARGET CENTER, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, rescheduled to November 28, 1999 due to Patti Scialfa's perforated eardrum.

The show[edit]

The E Street Band's sound changed with this tour. Originally different because of its inclusion of two keyboard instruments and a saxophone, it was now more guitar-oriented, as different-era second guitarists Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren were both included in the line-up, and as wife Patti Scialfa's greater up-front visibility added a fourth guitar. The ability of the sound system to keep the instrumental mix clear varied from venue to venue and night to night.

Set lists were dynamic throughout the tour. For a while Tracks' "My Love Will Not Let You Down", a 1982 Born in the U.S.A. outtake, was the usual show opener. Although little known, "My Love" contained all the classic E Street Band elements, led by Danny Federici's trademark electronic glockenspiel sound. Later many other songs served the opener role as well, often equally unknown but less accessible ones that gave the audience pause at the start. The second slot however was usually given to "Prove It All Night" or "The Promised Land", 1970s classics that would pull the audience fully into the show, followed by "Two Hearts", emphasizing the bond between Springsteen and sidekick Van Zandt. Following those numbers, anything might appear.

Midway through the regular set, a fixed series of five songs always appeared: a loud, full-band "Youngstown", with a fiery guitar solo from Nils Lofgren; a loud, three-guitars-distorting "Murder Inc."; the reliably crowd-rousing anthem "Badlands"; a lengthy take on "Out in the Street" with plenty of Bruce stage antics; and a very elongated "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out", which served as this tour's band intro song.

It was in "Tenth Avenue" that the show's theme began to emerge. Springsteen used it to deliver one of his tall tales about the formation of the E Street Band, adopting a preacher persona to first sing sections of The Impressions' "It's All Right" and/or Al Green's "Take Me to the River", all the while describing a quasi-spiritual quest in the guise of band introductions: a journey to "the river of resurrection, where everyone can find salvation. But you can’t get there by yourself." [2] The band were the people needed: Max Weinberg was introduced as star of Late Night with Conan O'Brien; Garry Tallent got to play the bass riff from "Fire"; Steven Van Zandt was introduced as star of The Sopranos tel-eee-vision show (to which Van Zandt responded with a bit of the theme from The Godfather on his guitar); Patti Scialfa got a build-up as "the first lady of love", after which she would play and sing a verse of her album's title song "Rumble Doll"; and Clarence Clemons would get the biggest build-up of all, leading to the part of "Tenth Avenue" in which "the Big Man joins the band."

From there the show would drop back into a serious mode, usually featuring a soft band rendition of the gloomy "The Ghost of Tom Joad" followed by a 1970s epic of loss rotated amongst "Backstreets", "Jungleland", and "Racing in the Street".

But then the second piece of the theme came, with the set closer "Light of Day". Now Springsteen was the backwoods preacher again, stretching out the song and in the middle giving a long sermon on what kind of salvation he was offering. First would be some local-site-specific glorifying or taunting, and then he would intone in time to band beats:

I'm here tonight - I'm here tonight -
To re-educate ya
To re-suscitate ya
To re-generate ya
To re-confiscate ya
To re-combabulate ya
To re-indoctrinate ya
To re-sex-u-late ya
To re-dedicate ya
To re-liberate ya
With the power, and the glory
With the power, and the glory
With the promise
With the majesty!
With the mystery!!
WITH THE MINISTRY! OF ROCK AND ROLL!!!
Now unlike my competitors,
I cannot ... I shall not ... I will not
Promise you life everlasting.
But I can promise you -
LIFE, RIGHT NOW!

This "Ministry of Rock and Roll" litany became the (long) catchphrase of the tour, and T-shirts were printed up with these words on the back.

Encores began with fan favorites such as "Born to Run" and "Thunder Road"; Springsteen would make increased use of turning the house lights on during some such songs, to increase the communal feeling of the concert. [3]

Lights went back down, as the next-to-last song of the show typically began the third part of the concert's theme. This was a rendering of "If I Should Fall Behind", originally recorded during the E Street Band's dissolved period, but now cast as a slowly played vow of togetherness: Springsteen, Van Zandt, Lofgren, Scialfa, and Clemons would each take turns singing a verse, promising to wait for each other. Last came "Land of Hope and Dreams", the one newly written song to be featured on most of the tour. Musically based in part around The Impressions' "People Get Ready" but set to a loud guitar churn with a sometimes-heard mandolin riff from Van Zandt, 'Lohad' (as it soon became known to fans) was lyrically a deliberate inversion of Woody Guthrie's "This Train Is Bound For Glory". In Preacher Bruce's take, all are welcome on the train - "saints and sinners", "losers and winners", "whores and gamblers" - you just get on board. Stretched to eight or more minutes, with several false endings, 'Lohad' represented the culmination of the show's message of rock and roll revival.

Springsteen celebrated his 50th birthday with a sold-out show on September 24, 1999 at Philadelphia's Wachovia Spectrum, opening the show with praise for his strong Philadelphia fan base, then playing a voice mail recording that a friend of his mother left on her answering machine, singing to him "The Big 50". Springsteen then quoted W.C. Fields, saying that "All things being equal, I'd rather be in Philadelphia," and broke into his early favorite "Growin' Up".

During the tour's third leg in 2000, Springsteen began performing some additional newly written songs, including a couple co-written by Joe Grushecky of Iron City Houserockers fame. But the new song that gained by far the most attention was "American Skin (41 Shots)".

Finally the Garden shows and the tour concluded with the sole performance of the 1995 temporary-reunion "Blood Brothers", augmented by an added verse; in the words of writer Robert Santelli, this was "the only song that could sum up what he was feeling ... Tears flowed, onstage and off, and when it was all over, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, had come full circle—blood brothers, one and all."

Songs performed[edit]

Critical and commercial reception[edit]

The Reunion Tour received generally good reviews.

Chris Willman of Entertainment Weekly stated that the tour "was as much traveling tent revival as reunion tour.... Springsteen drove it home with his nightly impersonation of a preacher during 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out', cheerfully bellowing about the soul-saving power of rock. Billy Sunday himself would be hard-pressed to invoke buzzwords like faith and believe as much as they turn up in an evening's worth of Springsteen lyrics. Houselights came up at full blast for minutes at a time, bathing the congregation in divine light and defying the conventional wisdom that rock is best enjoyed in the dark." [4] Kevin O'Hare of Infoplease wrote, "the shows sometimes seemed like an oldies revue, due to the dearth of new material that they offered. Springsteen was still electrifying on stage, yet it almost seemed like he'd lost his desire as a songwriter." [5] Sandy Carter of Z Magazine said that "As we come to the end of the 20th century, it’s increasingly difficult to believe in the power of rock and roll to change lives. But with the current reunion tour of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the tradition rediscovers a glorious, life-affirming eloquence." [6] Ed Kaz of the Asbury Park Press enjoyed Springsteen's hip-swivelling comment during the "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" rap that "I have the Ghost of Tom Jones inside of me!" [7] Music writer Robert Santelli later stated that, "The shows weren't as long as they used to be, but any rock fans who'd been to their share of concerts could see that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was still the best in the business."[this quote needs a citation]

Springsteen himself was happy with the outcome of the tour: "We knew the band was gonna play well and that everybody's commitment was stronger than ever, and people were excited. Hey, it was exciting just to be onstage with those people again. It was a lot of fun standing next to Steve, you know, standing next to Clarence, and you realize that that thing alone was something that ... It had great meaning for our audience and, and for me, in my life." [8]

Continental Airlines Arena hung a banner celebrating the 15 sold out Reunion Tour shows there in July and August 1999.

The second leg's starting stand of 15 consecutive shows at Continental Airlines Arena not only set a record for the Meadowlands Sports Complex [9], but also set an industry record for consecutive large arena shows. [10] The shows were all legitimate sell-outs; the arena has a banner hanging from the rafters to commemorate this achievement, right next to the banners celebrating championships from the resident sports teams.

Sales were not equally strong in all areas of the country, however. The American South, always an area that Springsteen had less relative popularity in, was becoming even more difficult for him; poor sales were reported in the Little Rock, Arkansas area [11], for example.

In fact, the show was pitched towards hard-core Springsteen fans. Lesser-known tracks and rarities abounded in the set lists; enough album oriented rock radio classics were included to keep knowledgeable rock fans content, but Springsteen's Top 40 pop hits from the 1980s and early 1990s were almost completely ignored, causing marked discontent outside arenas for attendees coming from that perspective. In other ways, too, the tour was a feast for "Bruce tramps". Internet forums and ticket exchange sites made travelling to multiple shows easier than ever. Tips were exchanged about how best to get "jailbait" seats, those in the first 17 rows of the arena floor for which a special bracelet was worn. In its traditional anti-scalping measure, Springsteen's management held tickets out for day-of-the-show "drop lines", for which ticketless fans organized waiting lines. Even better was the "Man in Black", a darkly dressed Springsteen representative who would walk the upper rafters before a show and upgrade some of the lucky faithful to front-row seats (and feed the exchanged nosebleeds out to the drop line). Indeed some fans purposefully bought or sat in bad seats in hope of an MIB visit, though it seemed to help selection chances if someone young, attractive and female was in the party.

At the time the Reunion Tour completed in mid-2000, it was the highest-grossing concert tour in North America for the year up to that point. [12]

Broadcasts and recordings[edit]

The final two shows at Madison Square Garden became the source for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live In New York City, which aired as an HBO television special on April 7, 2001 [13], and subsequently was released in longer form as a DVD and then a CD. However none of these forms presented a complete show, nor songs in their original concert order.

Personnel[edit]

The E Street Band[edit]

Scialfa missed some shows due to family duties.

Weinberg had to take several leaves of absence from his bandleading role on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and the long break between the second and third legs was partly to accommodate him.[citation needed]

Van Zandt had to juggle his shooting schedule for his role on The Sopranos around the tour's dates; consequently, his character Silvio Dante's involvement in the series' second season was more limited than it would be other seasons.[citation needed]

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]