But he also tried to make sense of the moment, a long year filled with loss and isolation during the pandemic.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Springsteen told the crowd after finishing the first song, stepping away from the microphone and addressing the crowd directly. “In 71 years on the planet, I haven’t seen anything like it last year.”
He spoke at length about his mother, Adele Springsteen.
“She’s 10 years old with Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “She is 95 years old. But the urge to dance, this urge to dance, is something that has never left her. She can’t speak. She can’t stand. But when she sees me there is a smile.
And he addressed civil unrest across the country.
“We live in troubled times,” Springsteen said. “Certainly not in my lifetime, when the survival of democracy itself, not just who is going to run the show for the next four years, but the survival of democracy itself is deeply threatened.”
He then embarked on one of the show’s three new songs, “American Skin (41 Shots)”, a ballad written about Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant, who was fatally shot in 1999 by police from new York City.
Amid the new material (including a new duet, “Fire” with his wife, Patti Scialfa), the beats that marked the opening act of “Springsteen on Broadway” quickly found their rhythm. Hours before the show, a crowd gathered outside the stage’s side door, a relic of Springsteen’s first Broadway run when fans demanded a preview of the rock star’s arrival every night.
“It’s just epic to have the Boss reopen us,” said Giancarlo DiMascio, 28, who came down from Rochester to see the show (his 49th Springsteen gig). “It’s big for New York, it’s big for the arts and culture here, and having that openness is a sense of normalcy.”