BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, Springsteen On Broadway (2xCD)
On his new live album, Bruce Springsteen is spoken-word poet, standup comedian, evangelical preacher, and performer all rolled into one. The New Jersey rockstar has always been sure to give fans plenty of The Boss for their buck over the past 45 years – with concerts that regularly exceed three hours. His 236-date Springsteen on Broadway tour, which is now being released as both an album and a Netflix special, is 150 minutes of theatrical magnetism. As the evening unfolds, Springsteen tells his life story through a series of spoken-word interludes, taken largely from his 2016 memoir Born to Run. The songs, in fact, often take second billing to the monologues, which are at once self-effacing and knowingly conceited. In one speech, Springsteen dents his reputation as a blue collar grafter. “I’ve never worked five days a week until right now,” he admits. “Standing before you is a man who has become wildly and absurdly successful writing about something of which he has had absolutely no personal experience. I made it all up! That’s how good I am.” When he sings – which he does without a band, only his guitar and piano – Springsteen’s growling, operatic voice is extraordinary. Never more so than when it is reined in to a soft vibrato. A stripped back rendition of “Dancing in the Dark”, whose guitar sounds like a chugging train, is sung with such rawness and sincerity it is as if Springsteen has never performed it before in his life. Live albums, never quite being able to replicate the atmosphere of a show or the cleanness of a record, can be hard work – but Springsteen on Broadway is an enthralling listen.