Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off their winter 2016 tour in support of playing the 1980 double album The River in its entirety Saturday night in Pittsburgh. The 66 year old, looking and sounding as strong as ever at Consol Energy Center. Playing a three and one half hour show, this version of the E-Street Band was a bit smaller than the 2014 version – featuring four less horn players, three less backup singers, one less percussionist and no more Tom Morello.
The River features quite a few songs that have pretty much been discarded from the regular rotation or seldom rotation of Springsteen shows but with 20 songs on the LP, of course there is a lot of opportunity for overlooks. Up until this tour, Springsteen had only performed The River during a Madison Square Garden gig in 2009. “Just this one time,” he said that night. “It’s too long to do again!”
Following “Wreck on the Highway” Springsteen addressed the crowd and noted, ” “One of the things I was writing about on The River was time,” he said. “A friend of mine [who] was around last night said that time catches up to us all. You’ve got a limited amount of time to do your work, to take care of your family, try and do something good.”
Springsteen began his encore with a heartfelt tribute to David Bowie, who died on Jan. 10. “He supported our music in the early, early days,” Springsteen told the crowd, recounting meeting Bowie in Philadelphia as he worked on Young Americans in 1974. “I took the Greyhound bus there,” Springsteen added. “That’s how long ago it was!” With that the E Street Band launched into a spirited cover of Bowie’s anthem “Rebel Rebel.”