What song should open the new tour for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band?
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band take the stage Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. It's Springsteen and the E Street Band's first time on a concert stage together since Feb. 25, 2017, when the band played Auckland, New Zealand, in that year's final show of the extended River Tour 2016.
The band, minus Tallent and Tyrell due to COVID protocols, played the new songs “Ghosts” and “I'll See You In My Dreams” in December 2020 on the “Saturday Night Live” stage in New York City.
What happened in the interim? The Boss starred in “Springsteen on Broadway,” and the pandemic put the kibosh on touring acts starting in the spring of 2020.
“After six years, I’m looking forward to seeing our great and loyal fans next year,” said Springsteen in a May 2022 statement. “And I’m looking forward to once again sharing the stage with the legendary E Street Band. See you out there, next year — and beyond.”
New material to play includes the 2020 album “Letter to You,” and the Boss' recent albums of soul covers, “Only the Strong Survive.”
Anticipation is high, and that includes the question of what will the tour opening song be? We've studied previously tours — and the recently released works — and come up with a few options for the opener. Let us know if you agree or disagree.
'Spirit in the Night'
Opening the show with “Spirit in the Night,” which kicked off a handful of Springsteen concerts in the early ’70s, would serve multiple purposes, including paying homage to the 50th anniversary of “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” It also would frame the new songs from 2020’s “Letter to You,” where rockin’ ghosts and spirits abound. The jazzy groove would be a way to ease into the show, rather than shake and shock the audience with a more uptempo song. After all, it’s been six years. Let’s take this nice and slow before we blast off.
'Born to Run'
Want to shake things up? Start with “Born to Run” and the audience will be wild-eyed for the rest of the night. The Springsteen classic has become an encore staple — lights on, please – for the last few decades. But opening the show with it would be a statement that things will be a little different now going forward, and you better pay attention or else. Long-time fans will recall that “Born to Run” opened more than two dozen concerts in 1980.
“Night,” track three on “Born to Run,” is a three-minute shot of pure adrenaline mainlined with nitroglycerin. What better way to open the show? It also has a history of kicking off E Street Band shows, doing the honors for the 1976 and ’77 Chicken Scratch and Lawsuit tours. Its performance would be statement that the guys and gals are ready to rock.
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“Ghosts” is the consensus favorite of fans to open the upcoming tour, and it’s tough to argue against it. The Max Weinberg beat intro will be a signaling of the tribes while the first line, “I hear the sound of your guitar, coming from the mystic far,” would be a clarion call from the Boss. The slashing guitars, driving rhythms and tonal spaces in the verses are tailor-made for a big rock show opener.
“Count the band in, then kick into overdrive,” Springsteen sings. “By the end of the set we leave no one alive!”
Opening a concert with a song called “Ghosts,” a track about band members who have passed away, does have its challenges. Will it set too much of a morbid tone for the night? That seems unlikely as the song is ultimately a life-affirming statement. “I’m alive and I’m coming home, “ sings the Boss.
'One Minute You’re Here'
This contemplative ballad opens Springsteen and the E Street Band’s most recent album, “Letter to You,” and it gently frames a major theme of the work: shouldering loss and carrying forth. In concert, it would do the same, and give audience members a collective chance to exhale before the engine revs up.
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About the tour
Tickets sold out quickly for the U.S. arena tour — which went on sale after the European stadium shows. Some fans were upset at the pricing of the U.S. shows as the cost of some “platinum” tickets went up to $5,000.
The average price of the tickets is $262, according to Ticketmaster and Springsteen's camp, and 56 percent were sold under $200. Prices vary, depending on where you live. Secondary market tickets on Ticketmaster start at $422 for the upcoming show in Newark, but they’re $65 for Dallas and $59 for Tulsa, Okla.
The E Street Band — Roy Bittan, piano, synthesizer; Nils Lofgren, guitar, vocals; Patti Scialfa, guitar, vocals; Garry Tallent, bass guitar; Stevie Van Zandt, guitar, vocals; and Max Weinberg, drums; with Soozie Tyrell, violin, guitar, vocals; Jake Clemons, saxophone; and Charlie Giordano, keyboards with the E Street Horns and E Street Choir — have been rehearsing at the Vogel, part of the Count Basie Center for the Arts in Red Bank.
Area shows include the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Thursday, March 16; Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on Saturday, April 1; the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Monday, April 3; two at the new USB Arena in Belmont Park, N.Y., on Sunday, April 9, and Tuesday, April 11; and the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday, April 14, to close the run.
The band then heads to Europe to play stadiums there, and indications are there will be stadium shows in the U.S. later in the summer. Tickets for an E Street Band show on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 were auctioned off in September at the Visiting Nurse Association Beach Ball at the Chapel Beach Club in Sea Bright.
U.S. Arena Tour dates
Feb 1: Tampa, Fla., Amalie Arena
Feb. 3: Atlanta, State Farm Arena
Feb. 5: Orlando, Fla., Amway Center
Feb. 7: Hollywood, Fla., Hard Rock Live
Feb. 10: Dallas, American Airlines Center
Feb 14: Houston, Toyota Center
Feb. 16: Austin, Texas, Moody Center
Feb. 18: Kansas City, Mo., T-Mobile Center
Feb. 21: Tulsa, Okla., BOK Center
Feb. 25: Portland, Ore., Moda Center
Feb. 27: Seattle, Climate Pledge Arena
March 2: Denver, Ball Arena
March 5: St. Paul, Minn., Xcel Energy Center
March 7: Milwaukee, Fiserv Forum
March 9: Columbus, Ohio, Nationwide Arena
March 12: Uncasville, Conn., Mohegan Sun
March 14: Albany, N.Y., MVP Arena
March 16: Philadelphia, Wells Fargo Center
March 18: State College, Pa., Bryce Jordan Center
March 20: Boston, TD Garden
March 23: Buffalo, N.Y., KeyBank Center
March 25: Greensboro, N.C., Greensboro Coliseum
March 27: Washington, D.C., Capital One Arena
March 29: Detroit, Little Caesars Arena
April 1: New York, Madison Square Garden
April 3: Brooklyn, Barclays Center
April 5: Cleveland, Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
April 7: Baltimore, Baltimore Arena
April 9, 11: Belmont Park, N.Y., USB Arena
April 14: Newark, Prudential Center
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Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Bruce Springsteen and E Street Band tour: What's the opening song?