Springsteen on Broadway
BOTTOM LINE Springsteen shows the personal side behind some of his classics
“Springsteen on Broadway” (Columbia) manages remarkable double duty, providing all the audio from the Netflix version of Bruce Springsteen’s autobiographical Broadway show, which ends its 236-show run at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Saturday.
That means it includes all the stories and introductions to all the songs in the show, as well as the songs themselves. This version creates the opportunity for fans to listen to the entire Netflix version, which debuts on the streaming service Sunday, or, like all albums, pick and choose their favorite moments for repeated listening. And that is likely how “Springsteen on Broadway” will have its largest impact.
The first single, “Land of Hope and Dreams,” shows how the soundtrack will work best. It takes a great Springsteen song that he has tried in a number of versions and uses it to show what the Broadway experience was like. It’s just Springsteen and a guitar, playing up the folkie element of the song, but still using the potent charisma of The Boss.
That also happens when Springsteen’s wife, Patti Scialfa, joins him to sing harmony on “Tougher than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise,” capturing a rare moment that hasn’t been seen often in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career. Onstage, their chemistry is almost palpable and it translates well to the recorded versions.
It’s not always the case. While the introduction to “Promised Land” is powerful, the stripped-down version, with Springsteen downplaying some of the biggest lines, pales in comparison to the grand original.
However, there are plenty of moments when “Springsteen on Broadway” captures magic, and none more thrilling than in "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" when he pays tribute at the piano to the late Clarence Clemons and other members of The E Street Band who have died.” It shows why Springsteen is The Boss in whatever medium he chooses.