Jordan Roth, the president of Jujamcyn, came through, greeting the VIPs and beaming. (Although I did chat with one audience member, a woman named Leslie Bee, who had bought a single ticket that very afternoon. This had been a tough ticket to get for most concertgoers. His arena shows traditionally go a lot longer than that, but this delivered a different kind of intensity, provided by the close quarters and comparatively small house: It was more overscale cabaret than small stadium. … And my case was The United States of America v. He took his seat somewhere around the fifth row, and the house lights dropped. had even been at the previous Broadway run’s closing night. Pete and Chasten Buttigieg were there, near the front. “We’re all unmasked, sitting next to each other,” Springsteen said, joyfully, near the top of the show. James, is requiring everyone to show proof of vaccination before entering, and perhaps 50 angry anti-vaxxers chanted and waved signs comparing Springsteen, ludicrously, to a segregationist. Saturday, June 26, was the first time a Broadway theater opened after 471 days’ darkness, and the first show up was a ten-week return engagement for Springsteen on Broadway, Bruce Springsteen’s one-man-plus-a-cameo show that ran for a year in 2017. Once you made your way through the shouters and into the lobby, though, you found yourself among a crowd that was primed, if not almost desperate, to be swept away by the performance. That’s always comforting to hear.”

The show isn’t a greatest-hits reel or a brisk concert; it’s a set of monologues recounting his upbringing and life experiences, knitting together performances of songs related to those moments. It’s an emotional and quite moving program, not least because we’ve all gone through such loss — of people, of institutions, of human contact — in the past year. The Boss. (It seats about 1,700.) There’s a lot of talk, to the point where there aren’t actually all that many songs over the course of the evening, and quite a few of them aren’t his biggest hits. I won’t recap the show at length, because my colleague Craig Jenkins reviewed it beautifully during the first run, and the main trunk of the performance is similar. They’ve seen Springsteen do arena shows in the past. So was Brian Williams. Mike Sr. He’s been lucky, he noted: His people are healthy, with no real crises. (Last time out, it was at the Walter Kerr.) If you’re used to the jostling buzz of a theater-district block at ten minutes to eight, this one was frankly weird: every other theater silent, this one bustling. In fact, more than bustling, because there was a protest outside. “It’s a birthday trip from San Francisco,” she explained, “and I looked today, and I got it” — a one-in-a-million shot, a good aisle seat.)

Walking down that same aisle, you could spot a scattering of famous faces. There’s a longish monologue toward the end of the show, much of it new, in which he talks about people and things now gone: his father, his bandmate and brother-by-choice Clarence Clemons. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Jake Krol (@jake31krol)

On my way out, after the applause finally subsided, I fell into conversation with two father-and-son fans from Staten Island, Mike Neely and his son, Mike Neely Jr. (Also, randomly, Steven Seagal.) Each of those arrivals occasioned a very minor rumble in the room — and then, a few minutes before showtime, an absolute roar swept through the theater. Patti Scialfa, Springsteen’s longtime bandmate and wife, comes on for a couple of songs, including a slinky duet on “Fire,” but otherwise it’s all Bruce all the time, for two hours and 20 minutes. told me. He talked about his father, now long gone; he talked about his mother, now 95 and “ten years into Alzheimer’s,” to a long ohhhhh from the crowd. (He does do “Born in the U.S.A.,” but it has been completely remade, musically, to resemble its original form; the fist-pumping upbeat treatment that so many people mistook for rah-rah patriotism is gone.) Instead you’ll hear “American Skin (41 Shots),” his song about the Amadou Diallo murder that is more than two decades old and has found a grim new relevance. “More emotional,” Mike Jr. But there were a few tweaks and alterations reflecting the moment, particularly around the beginning and end. James Theatre. I got that.” And as I made my way down 44th Street, I overheard one more audience member say, succinctly, what a lot of people were feeling. “Souls remain in dusty space,” Springsteen says, and that eventually leads to a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, recited after a couple of wisecracks about his Catholic upbringing. And this show, they both said, was different. “She can’t talk, she can’t stand.” But, he said, she still has the urge to dance when music comes on. Bruce Springsteen! It tees up a performance of his new song “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” closing the show. “You know how people talk about his shows as a religious experience? It marked the arrival of Stevie Van Zandt, royal guitarist of the E Street Band, there to cheer on his boss, the Boss. Mike Jr. But still, he added: “Seventy-one years on the planet, I’ve never seen anything like this.” And also, he said with a sly smile, “I got arrested.” (Big friendly we’re-with-you laugh from the crowd.) “Then I had to go to Zoom court. had hauled himself out of a postoperative bed rather than miss tonight. Jujamcyn Theatres, the owner of the St. “That was the show to bring back Broadway.”


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Tags: Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, was bounding around, cheering on his state’s most prominent ambassador. You won’t encounter “Born to Run” here. Photo: Getty Images

It was, predictably, an unpredictable night at the St.