Review: Bruce Springsteen on Broadway worth every penny

US rock legend Bruce Springsteen performs live
US rock legend Bruce Springsteen performs live
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It’s not cheap, but for any Springsteen fan it is the gig of a lifetime to see The Boss close up and intimate in a theatre the size of Edinburgh’s Queens Hall.

All we’ve had recently are monster stadium performances at places like Hampden Park.

Almost at the end of his 210-night residency on Broadway, Springsteen told his story of what has made him the person that he is.

If you’ve read the recent autobiography you won’t be surprised at the scripted content, but seeing it delivered by the man himself with passion, pathos, irony and brilliant comic timing was a sight to behold.

“I was ‘Born To Run’, so how come I’ve ended up living ten minutes from where I grew up?” he laughed.

It was a full-on confessional covering his Italian mother’s Alzheimer’s and his Irish father’s periods of depression that have now also affected him.

In particular, there was an extremely moving piece about lost friends in Vietnam, which led to him dodging the draft and living with the decades of guilt wondering what happened to the soldier that went in his place.

The story of the loss of his soul mate and E Street Band member Clarence Clemons drew a tear to most eyes.

He’s never had a job nor worked five days a week – until this residency.

He’s never worked in a factory and was to slow to learn to drive, but yet he confessed to somehow having a “magic trick” that has enabled him to write and perform such brilliant songs about these things in the concept of the American life.

Then there was the music. Oh, the music, delivered solo with an ever-changing collection of guitars or at the piano. Some classics and some rarities all set up to support the telling of the story.

A blues version of Born In The USA with a 12-string guitar was stunning.

The music was a little slow to come at the start of the performance, but dominated the second half of the two-and-a-half hours, with Dancing In the Dark and Born To Run satisfying the non-believers, dragged along to attend with addicted spouses.

There was also new commentary on America today and it’s fair to say the performer is no fan of the current incumbent of the White House - a polemic on the state of the nation and the need for a greater good to emerge led to an electrifying performance of The Ghost Of Tom Joad, a song based on a character in John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes Of Wrath’.

As the show moves towards its conclusion, Springsteen is usually joined on stage by his wife Patti Scialfa to accompany him for a couple of songs.

Tonight Patti was missing due to a stomach bug, but even that led to a fascinating insight - the profuse apology led to no doubt about who wears the trousers in the Springsteen household.

As such, there were some amendments to the script and the two duets weren’t done solo, but the glorious compensation was an unscheduled encore of This Hard Land that the audience was invited to stand up and film and photo - a rare treat as any recording is normally banned.

A film of the show is being released on Netflix in mid-December. You can be guaranteed this reviewer will be tuning in.