Bruce Springsteen has called his road trip with the E Street Band a reunion tour, but E Street guitarist Little Steven Van Zandt is convinced it's more akin to a remarriage of long-estranged, but still-in-love, partners.
Van Zandt said he thinks the tour, which picks up again on Monday in State College, Pa., will result in more than just the ticket sales that made it the second-highest-grossing tour of 1999 (behind that of the Rolling Stones), according to concert industry trade publication Pollstar.
Van Zandt says he thinks a new album from Springsteen and the E Street Band will happen, though he acknowledges the prospect of recording new work has yet to be discussed.
"I think it's an inevitable part of the permanent reunion, which I think this is," Van Zandt said.
(For news on Van Zandt's latest solo effort, Born Again Savage, click here).
Van Zandt says for the upcoming leg of the tour, the setlist won't differ much from shows the band performed across the United States last summer and fall in an outing that ended on Nov. 29 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
"I think we have to exercise a little discipline here and realize that, as with any show, there are people who haven't seen it yet," Van Zandt said. Springsteen's fanbase includes many who travel to see multiple shows, often in the hope of hearing rarely performed selections from Springsteen's catalog.
"The basic, essential themes of the show ... I expect to be very much the same," Van Zandt said.
The band does change five or six songs per night, though, he said, and so they are occasionally called upon to play an obscure album track or B-side. Usually they're up to the task, but even the E Street Band aren't perfect.
At a show at the United Center in Chicago on Sept. 30, the band played a near-perfect version of "New York City Serenade," from the 1973 album The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Though they nailed the nearly 10-minute song, which features several time changes, they fell apart during a version of "Janey, Don't You Lose Heart," a straightforward, pop B-side to "I'm Goin' Down," a 1985 single from Born in the U.S.A.
"This band is so good that we actually get off when we screw up," Van Zandt said. "It's so rare that when we actually mess up, we get a kick out of it."
The 1999 concerts featured Springsteen classics such as 1975's "Born to Run" (RealAudio excerpt) and 1978's "Badlands" as well as reworkings of such songs as 1981's "The River" and "Youngstown." "Youngstown" first appeared on Springsteen's 1995 solo acoustic album The Ghost of Tom Joad, but the 1999 concert version was a bluesy electric take that featured a blistering solo from guitarist Nils Lofgren.
The tour travels through the eastern, southern and western United States, touches down for two nights in Toronto and ends with a five-date stand at Madison Square Garden in New York. Springsteen and the E Street Band haven't played the legendary Garden since the 1988 Tunnel of Love tour, though Springsteen did play a benefit for the Kirsten Ann Carr fund there in 1993 with a different backing band. Carr, the daughter of rock critic Dave Marsh and Springsteen's manager, Barbara Carr, died in 1993 at age 21 from cancer.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour dates:
Feb. 28; State College, Pa.; Bryce Jordan Center
March 4; Orlando, Fla.; Orlando Arena
March 6; Tampa, Fla.; Ice Palace
March 910; Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.; NCR Center
March 13; Dallas, Texas; Reunion Arena
March 14; North Little Rock, Ark.; Alltel Arena
March 18; Memphis, Tenn.; Pyramid Arena
March 19; New Orleans, La.; New Orleans Arena
March 3031; Denver, Colo.; Pepsi Arena
April 3; Portland, Ore.; Rose Garden Arena
April 4; Tacoma, Wash.; Tacoma Dome
April 8; St. Louis, Mo.; Kiel Center
April 9; Kansas City, Mo.; Kemper Arena
April 12; Nashville, Texas; Nashville Arena
April 14; Louisville, Ky.; Freedom Hall
April 17; Austin, Texas; Frank Erwin Center
April 18; Houston, Texas; Compaq Arena
April 21; Charlotte, N.C.; Charlotte Coliseum
April 22; Raleigh, N.C.; Entertainment and Sports Arena
April 25; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Mellon Arena AKA Civic Arena