Ghost of Tom Joad Tour
|Ghost of Tom Joad Tour|
|Tour by Bruce Springsteen|
|Associated album||The Ghost of Tom Joad|
|Start date||November 21, 1995|
|End date||May 26, 1997|
|Bruce Springsteen concert chronology|
The Ghost of Tom Joad Tour was a lengthy, worldwide concert tour featuring Bruce Springsteen performing alone on stage in small halls and theatres, that ran off and on from late 1995 through the middle of 1997. It followed the release of his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad.
The tour began on November 21, 1995 at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The first group of shows ran through the end of the year in major media centers such as Los Angeles, the San Francisco area, Washington, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.
After a winter holiday break, the show visited other North American cities in January 1996, including a stop in Youngstown, Ohio due to "Youngstown" being the album track most (relatively) played on radio.
February and March saw shows in Western Europe, followed by a three-week break during which Springsteen attended the Academy Awards show in Los Angeles. The tour resumed in Europe through earlyish May.
A family man with three small children at the time, Springsteen took off the summer of 1996 and then started up again in the U.S. in mid-September, now playing smaller markets and colleges, as well as local stops in Asbury Park and his old St. Rose of Lima School in Freehold, and finishing up in mid-December.
Another winter holiday break was taken, then in late January 1997 Springsteen took the show for three weeks in Japan and Australia. In May the final leg started up; first Springsteen went to Stockholm to accept the Polar Music Prize, then he toured Central Europe for perhaps the first time, seeing Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic, before concluding with additional shows back in Western Europe. The 128th and final show of the tour was on May 26, 1997 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris and was attended by hundreds of fans from around the world.
While the Ghost of Tom Joad album was in the more acoustic, somber vein of his earlier Nebraska, it did contain some limited additional instrumentation and arrangements. However, Springsteen decided to perform the new material completely by himself, using only acoustic guitar and harmonica. (In actuality, a couple of the dourest Joad numbers did have a hidden offstage synthesizer being played, by Springsteen's guitar technician Kevin Buell.)
Given that Springsteen was famous for his full-band, high-energy, crowd-rousing concerts, this tour was sure to be a surprising departure. Advertisements tried to make this clear, and all show tickets were printed with Solo Acoustic Tour on them  to give audiences a firm understanding of what to expect (and leading some to call the tour by that name, although it would become ambiguous in light of the later Devils & Dust Tour; Springsteen's publicists did not give this tour any formal name).
In any case, after an opening rendition of "The Ghost of Tom Joad", which featured audience members whooping and "Brooocing" by habit, Springsteen regularly addressed this audience with some variation of this speech:
- "This is where I get to set the ground rules a little bit ... a lot of these songs tonight were composed using a lot of silence, silence is a part of the music, so I really need your collaboration tonight in giving me that silence so I can do my best for you ... if you feel like clapping or singing along, you'll be an embarrassment to your friends and family ... if someone sitting next to you is talking, politely ask them to shut the fuck up ... Don't make me come down there and smack you around, it'll mess with my man-of-the-people image."
Sometimes Springsteen felt the need to reiterate parts of the message after subsequent songs, especially if Brooocing continued. The whole bit created quite an impression among Springsteen fans, some of whom would always refer to this as the Shut the Fuck Up Tour as a result, and others of whom would wish the same rules were in effect for slower songs at future Springsteen E Street Band concerts.
The performance style of the tour varied greatly depending upon song. Some older numbers such as "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and the recently-exhumed "Murder Inc." were vigorously strummed on guitar and bellowed in voice. Slide work also sometimes lent musical dynamism. But most selections, including almost all of the Joad material, were indeed arranged with silence as the leading accompaniment. Even normal fan favorite "Born in the U.S.A." was recast into a snarling attack mostly bereft of its anthemic title line. "The Promised Land" was transformed into a ghostly echo of its usually-rousing self, propelled by percussive slapping of Springsteen's Takamine guitar body.
The typical all-Joad six-song closing sequence of the main set - "Youngstown", "Sinaloa Cowboys", "The Line", "Balboa Park", "The New Timer", and "Across the Border" - was especially stark and quiet. Based on the fates of lost American workers and Mexican immigrants in California, it suffered from some of same lack of melodic interest and forced didactic purpose that the album had been criticized for.
As the tour wore on, shows became a little looser. Springsteen introduced some humorous songs he had recently written, including "In Freehold", a ribald homage to his growing up, "In Michigan", a homage about the folks in Michigan, "Sell It and They Will Come", a tribute to the insanity of late-night infomercials, and "Pilgrim in the Temple of Love", a tale of Santa Claus doing something naughty. Indeed explicit sexual mentions became something of a theme of the tour, with Springsteen telling any children in the audience that words they didn't understand were Latin for "doing your homework." Springsteen also engaged the faithful by unearthing some old numbers that had not seen concert action in a long time, or most famously in the case of Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.'s "The Angel", ever, a song Springsteen once swore he would never perform live (it wasn't performed again until 2009 during full performances of the album). The tour also marked the first time that Springsteen did not perform anything from the Born to Run. In fact, nothing from the album was even soundchecked although on the third to final date of the tour, Springsteen treated fans in Italy to a post-show singalong performance of "Thunder Road" from the venue's balcony. Two songs written for the Joad album that did not make the final cut, "The Hitter" and "Long Time Comin'", made their tour debuts although Springsteen would not release the two songs for another ten years until the 2005 Devils & Dust album.
Critical and commercial reaction
Due to the small venues played on the tour, often in the 2,000-to-3,000 capacity range, tickets were often hard to get, creating a "ticket scalpers' heaven."  Dave Marsh's Two Hearts biography assessed the tour as not expanding Springsteen's audience any, but helping to solidify it, especially in Europe.
The Asbury Park Press characterized a November 1995 Count Basie Theatre show as Springsteen "spinning his acoustic tales of desperation and hope ... he played with power and poise ... The lyrics are bleaker than usual for Springsteen and the music reflects the solemn mood." The New York Times said a December 1995 Beacon Theatre show "easily qualifies as the most earnest concert of the year," that "Where [Springsteen] once saw open highways, he now sees roads to nowhere," and that "Springsteen turned in a painstaking and convincing performance. But with that material, he has turned himself into nearly a one-note performer." The Washington Post, on the other hand, found a December 1995 DAR Constitution Hall performance showing strains of the "sense of triumph" that Springsteen's previous work had evoked, although his physical appearance made him "look more like the custodian at Constitution Hall than the star attraction."
The biography Hard Travelin': The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie by Robert Santelli and Emily Davidson found praise for the tour, saying the album's songs gained onstage and that the shows, "although hushed and void of the anthemic rockers that made him the greatest performer that rock has ever known, managed to bring Woody Guthrie back to life again." Jimmy Gutterman's Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen criticized the first leg of the tour for producing "the most dour performances of his career," but praised later legs that incorporated new material that was "sly, low-key, and funny."
Broadcasts and recordings
Portions of the December 8 and December 9, 1995 shows from Philadelphia's Tower Theater were later broadcast on the syndicated Columbia Records Radio Hour on U.S. album oriented rock stations. The April 19, 1996 show from Internationales Congress Centrum Berlin was recorded live and a decade later aired on E Street Radio.
|November 22, 1995||Red Bank||United States||Count Basie Theatre|
|November 26, 1995||Los Angeles||Wiltern Theatre|
|November 27, 1995|
|November 29, 1995||Berkeley||Berkeley Community Theatre|
|November 30, 1995|
|December 3, 1995||Rosemont||Rosemont Theatre|
|December 5, 1995||Washington, D.C||DAR Constitution Hall|
|December 6, 1995|
|December 8, 1995||Upper Darby||Tower Theatre|
|December 9, 1995|
|December 12, 1995||New York City||Beacon Theatre|
|December 13, 1995|
|December 15, 1995||Boston||Orpheum Theatre|
|December 16, 1995|
|December 17, 1995||New York City||Beacon Theatre|
|January 7, 1996||Montreal||Canada||Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier|
|January 8, 1996||Toronto||Massey Hall|
|January 10, 1996||Detroit||United States||Fox Theatre|
|January 11, 1996|
|January 12, 1996||Youngstown||Stambaugh Auditorium|
|January 16, 1996||Cleveland||Cleveland Music Hall|
|January 17, 1996|
|January 18, 1996||St. Louis||Fox Theatre|
|January 22, 1996||New Orleans||Saenger Theatre|
|January 23, 1996||Houston||Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts|
|January 25, 1996||Austin||Austin Music Hall|
|January 26, 1996||Dallas||Bronco Bowl|
|January 28, 1996||Atlanta||Fox Theatre|
|February 12, 1996||Frankfurt||Germany||Alte Oper|
|February 14, 1996||Dresden||Kulturpalast|
|February 15, 1996||Munich||Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle|
|February 17, 1996||Hamburg||Congress Centrum Hamburg Halle 1|
|February 18, 1996||Dusseldorf||Philipshalle|
|February 21, 1996||Paris||France||Le Zénith|
|February 22, 1996|
|February 25, 1996||Rotterdam||The Netherlands||De Doelen|
|February 26, 1996||Amsterdam||Koninklijk Theater Carré|
|February 28, 1996||Manchester||England||Manchester Apollo|
|February 29, 1996||Birmingham||Symphony Hall|
|March 2, 1996||Newcastle||Newcastle City Hall|
|March 3, 1996||Edinburgh||Scotland||Edinburgh Playhouse|
|March 13, 1996||Stockholm||Sweden||Cirkus|
|March 14, 1996||Oslo||Norway||Oslo Spektrum|
|March 16, 1996||Copenhagen||Denmark||Falkoner Salen|
|March 19, 1996||Belfast||Northern Ireland||King's Hall|
|March 20, 1996||Dublin||Ireland||Point Theatre|
|April 10, 1996||Rome||Italy||Auditorium Santa Cecilia|
|April 11, 1996||Milan||Teatro Smeraldo|
|April 13, 1996||Genoa||Teatro Carlo Felice|
|April 16, 1996||London||England||Royal Albert Hall|
|April 17, 1996|
|April 19, 1996||Berlin||Germany||ICC Berlin Halle 1|
|April 20, 1996||Antwerp||Belgium||Koningin Elisabethzaal|
|April 22, 1996||London||England||Royal Albert Hall|
|April 24, 1996||Brixton Academy|
|April 25, 1996|
|April 27, 1996||Royal Albert Hall|
|April 30, 1996||Strasbourg||France||Salle Erasme|
|May 1, 1996||Brussels||Belgium||Palais des Beaux-Arts|
|May 2, 1996||Zurich||Switzerland||Kongresshaus Zürich|
|May 6, 1996||Barcelona||Spain||Teatro Tivoli|
|May 7, 1996|
|May 8, 1996||Madrid||Palacio de Congresos Y Exposiciones|
|September 16, 1996||Pittsburgh||United States||Benedum Center|
|September 18, 1996||Wallingford||Oakdale Theatre|
|September 19, 1996||Providence||Providence Performing Arts Center|
|September 24, 1996||Kalamazoo||James W. Miller Auditorium|
|September 25, 1996||Akron||E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall|
|September 26, 1996||Ann Arbor||Hill Auditorium|
|October 1, 1996||Normal||Braden Auditorium|
|October 2, 1996||Milwaukee||Riverside Theater|
|October 3, 1996||Minneapolis||Northrop Auditorium|
|October 15, 1996||Salt Lake City||Abravanel Hall|
|October 16, 1996||Denver||Paramount Theatre|
|October 17, 1996|
|October 19, 1996||Albuquerque||Kiva Auditorium|
|October 21, 1996||Tempe||Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium|
|October 22, 1996||San Diego||Civic Theatre|
|October 23, 1996||Fresno||William Saroyan Theatre|
|October 25, 1996||Santa Barbara||Arlington Theatre|
|October 26, 1996||San Jose||Event Center Arena|
|October 28, 1996||Portland||Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall|
|October 29, 1996||Seattle||Paramount Theatre|
|November 8, 1996||Freehold||Saint Rose of Lima School|
|November 12, 1996||Buffalo||Shea's Performing Arts Center|
|November 13, 1996||Syracuse||Landmark Theatre|
|November 14, 1996||Lowell||Lowell Memorial Auditorium|
|November 19, 1996||Memphis||Ellis Auditorium|
|November 20, 1996||Louisville||The Louisville Palace|
|November 21, 1996||Indianapolis||Murat Theatre|
|November 24, 1996||Asbury Park||Paramount Theatre|
|November 25, 1996|
|November 26, 1996|
|December 2, 1996||Sunrise||Sunrise Musical Theater|
|December 3, 1996|
|December 5, 1996||Columbia||Township Auditorium|
|December 6, 1996||Birmingham||Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Concert Hall|
|December 10, 1996||Cincinnati||Music Hall|
|December 11, 1996||Columbus||Veterans Memorial Auditorium|
|December 12, 1996||Nashville||Ryman Auditorium|
|December 14, 1996||Charlotte||Ovens Auditorium|
|January 27, 1997||Tokyo||Japan||Kokusai Forum Hall|
|January 29, 1997|
|January 30, 1997|
|January 31, 1997|
|February 4, 1997||Brisbane||Australia||QPAC Concert Hall|
|February 5, 1997|
|February 7, 1997||Sydney||Capitol Theatre|
|February 8, 1997|
|February 10, 1997|
|February 11, 1997|
|February 12, 1997|
|February 15, 1997||Melbourne||Palais Theatre|
|February 16, 1997|
|February 17, 1997|
|May 6, 1997||Vienna||Austria||Austria Center Vienna|
|May 7, 1997|
|May 9, 1997||Warsaw||Poland||Sala Kongresowa|
|May 10, 1997|
|May 12, 1997||Prague||Czech Republic||Congress Center|
|May 15, 1997||Lyon||France||Auditorium Maurice Ravel|
|May 16, 1997||Montpellier||Berlioz Opera House|
|May 18, 1997||Nice||Acropolis|
|May 19, 1997||Toulon||Zenith Omega|
|May 21, 1997||Florence||Italy||Teatro Verdi|
|May 22, 1997||Italy||Teatro Augusteo|
|May 25, 1997||Paris||France||Palais des congres de Paris|
|May 26, 1997|
- Marsh, Dave. Bruce Springsteen on Tour: 1968-2005. Bloomsbury USA, 2006. ISBN 1-59691-282-0.
- 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.