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Working on a Dream Tour
WorkingOnADreamTour3.jpg
Concert tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Locations North America
Western Europe
Start date April 1, 2009
End date November 22, 2009
Legs 3
Shows 84
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band tour chronology
Magic Tour
(2007-2008)
Working On A Dream Tour
(2009)

The Working on a Dream Tour was a concert tour by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, which began in April 2009 and ended in November 2009. It followed the late January 2009 release of the album Working on a Dream.

Contents

Itinerary

The tour was envisioned by the Springsteen camp as not being "a total marathon",[1] and was thus considerably shorter than usual for Springsteen, especially in North America, where only 26 stops were planned.[2] It did include a date in Oklahoma, where Springsteen had not played in three decades and where officials at Tulsa's BOK Center had been trying to lure Springsteen for years.[2]

On February 23, 2009, it was confirmed that Springsteen would be headlining the Saturday night at Glastonbury festival in June of the same year.[3] Springsteen also signed up for the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands and the Bonnaroo Music Festival in the U.S.; playing such festivals was a departure from his normal routing, and challenged him with audiences that were not pre-selected with his fans.[4]

One continuing subplot with the tour's scheduling was E Street drummer Max Weinberg's availability vis à vis his job as The Max Weinberg 7 bandleader for Conan O'Brien, given that during the first half of 2009 Late Night with Conan O'Brien in New York was ending and The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien in Los Angeles was beginning.[5] The mid-January announcement that Late Night would continue until February 20 precluded any notion of starting the tour immediately following Springsteen's appearance at Super Bowl XLIII,[6] in addition to the band feeling that they had just gotten off the Magic Tour and "Wait, let’s stop a minute."[7] Meanwhile, the June 1 start date of The Tonight Show posed problems for Weinberg's continued presence on the tour.[8] O'Brien told a Variety reporter at the time of the announcement that he hoped that Weinberg would follow him to Los Angeles and that he also hoped an arrangement could be worked out to let Weinberg go on the road with Springsteen as had been done for past tours.[5] At NBC, the coexistence between the drummer's two bosses was known as the Weinberg-Springsteen Rule, and was not typically extended to other talent at the network.[8] In a high-profile Rolling Stone cover story interview, Springsteen was vague about the matter: "All I know is this – it's all gonna work out, one way or another. If people wanna come out and see the E Street Band, they'll be able to come out and see the E Street Band."[8] And whether Weinberg would stay with O'Brien and move or not was a subject of conflicting news reports[9][10] until O'Brien confirmed on February 18 that Weinberg and the band were indeed coming with him.[11] A few days later, E Streeter Steven Van Zandt said of Weinberg's availability for the post-June 1, European leg: “We’re still figuring that out. We’ll see. I think Max will be there for most of it. ... I know he was very much trying to figure it out.”[12] Weinberg had not missed an E Street Band show since joining the outfit in 1974, and Van Zandt said that no amount of rehearsal by another drummer could replace Weinberg's intuitive understanding of Springsteen's performance gambits.[12]

Fans listening outside Asbury Park Convention Hall as Springsteen and the E Street Band work on arrangements for "Outlaw Pete" in rehearsal. March 18, 2009.

As had been the practice since the Reunion Tour in 1999, Springsteen and the band began rehearsals at Asbury Park Convention Hall.[13] Beginning on March 11, some of the Springsteen faithful listened outside closed doors for what songs and arrangements the tour might bring.[13] The presence of Max Weinberg's 18-year-old son Jay, a freshman at Stevens Institute of Technology[14] and also a drummer, at rehearsals indicated that he might be the one to replace his father for European leg shows where Tonight Show duties came into play.[15] On one occasion on the Magic Tour, Jay Weinberg had sat in on drums for "Born to Run".[15] This was confirmed by Springsteen on March 20, who said that Jay Weinberg would be drumming at a small number of shows during the tour.[16] Springsteen added, "Once again, I want to express my appreciation to Conan O'Brien, and everyone on his team, for making it possible for Max to continue to do double duty for both us and for him. We promise to return him in one piece."[17] Van Zandt said, "I’ve been avoiding this question for weeks! Thank God they finally announced it. We already did three days of rehearsals. Jay's a fantastic drummer. It’s in the Weinberg DNA."[18]

By the time the American first leg was well underway, there was speculation of more American dates to come in the late summer and fall, but E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren said that Springsteen and wife Patti Scialfa would make a decision later on.[19]

Advertising for the just-announced Giants Stadium shows as fans leave the Meadowlands Arena after the May 21, 2009 show.

On May 21, 2009, while playing at the Izod Center, Springsteen announced he would be playing three dates at next-door Giants Stadium in late September and early October, saying the band would "say goodbye to old Giants Stadium ... Before they bring the wrecking ball, the wrecking crew is coming back!"[20] The video screens on stage showed a huge banner being hung on the stadium, which was the forerunner of heavy advertising for the shows on local television. They sold out quickly, and two more dates were added, finishing on October 9.[21] These were scheduled to be the last concerts ever at the stadium.[21] The final show sold out quickly but not the one before it.[22] Subsequent U.S. tour dates in the late summer began to be announced as well, focusing on outdoor amphitheaters in the Northeast. In mid-July, a further extension to the U.S. tour was announced, adding shows in indoor arenas through November.[23]

The November 22, 2009 performance in Buffalo, New York was slated as the tour's last.[24] After that the E Street Band was expected to take a one to two year hiatus, while Springsteen worked on another project.[24]

The October 26, 2009 show in Kansas City, Missouri was canceled an hour before its scheduled start time due to the death of Lenny Sullivan, Springsteen's cousin and assistant road manager for ten years.[25][26] It was not rescheduled.

Ticket sales

Even before any official tour announcement, tickets went on sale in Norway and Sweden. The heavy demand caused a crash in the Scandinavian ticketing system.[27] A similar situation due to heavy demand occurred in Finland with the Lippupiste ticketing system.[28]

On January 27, 2008, the day of the Working on a Dream release in the United States, the official announcement of the tour came.[29][30]

On February 1, 2009, Springsteen & the E Street Band performed at halftime of Super Bowl XLIII. The following day, February 2, 2009, tickets for many of the U.S. shows went on sale. Despite the ongoing global financial crisis of 2008–2009, demand was heavy, both due to Springsteen's continued popularity and the high visibility from the Super Bowl appearance.[31] The two each New Jersey and Philadelphia shows sold out in about an hour.[31][32] East Coast online sales through Ticketmaster, including the New Jersey ones, were especially troublesome, as many customers endured long waits or were in the middle of a purchasing transaction, only to be hit with screens saying the site was down "due to routine maintenance".[31] Ticketmaster acknowledged that the technical problem with the sales "wasn't our finest hour."[33] Tickets for the New Jersey shows were in limited supply to begin with, as some 27 percent of them were held back from sale by the venue, the record company, Springsteen's organization, and others.[34] Indeed, for one of the shows the Springsteen people held back all but 108 of the 1,126 seats in the four sections nearest the stage.[22]

Frustration became a public outcry when many of Ticketmaster online customers, upon being informed shows were sold out, were directed to TicketsNow, a Ticketmaster-owned site, where tickets are sold on the secondary market at extremely inflated prices.[31][33][35] Ticketmaster even pushed fans to TicketsNow even when there were still tickets available for a given show.[36] Bill Pascrell, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 8th congressional district, asked the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the relationship between Ticketmaster and TicketsNow,[35][37] saying, "I am concerned that the business affiliation between Ticketmaster and TicketsNow may represent a conflict of interest that is detrimental to the average fan. There is a significant potential for abuse when one company is able to monopolize the primary market for a product and also directly manipulate, and profit from, the secondary market."[38]

Springsteen issued a statement on his website where he chastised Ticketmaster and made it clear that he has no affiliation with them (the venues have the affiliation).[39] Springsteen's organization, as well as record companies and promoters, do hold back substantial numbers of tickets from public sales and making supply of them even tighter, especially for New Jersey shows.[31] On the same day that New Jersey State Assemblymen Gary Schaer and Wayne DeAngelo called for an inquiry,[40] New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram also said that her office and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs would investigate the sale of Springsteen concert tickets amidst a number of complaints.[35][41] As the matter gained national attention,[42][43] it became what The Washington Post described as a "public relations nightmare" for Ticketmaster.[44] On February 5, Ticketmaster issued an "open letter of apology" to Springsteen and his fans, saying that it would no longer link to TicketsNow from Ticketmaster during high-demand sales and promising it would refund customers who inadvertently bought secondary market tickets.[45] Pascrell, whose office received over 1,000 complaints on the matter, and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal also used the sales tales to indicate concern with the possible merger of Ticketmaster with Live Nation.[35][45] Springsteen also voiced his objection to the merger, and his comments also gained national attention.[46]

On February 23, 2009, Ticketmaster agreed to an out-of-court settlement with the New Jersey Attorney General.[47] Ticketmaster agreed to refund payments made to TicketsNow and reduce its visibility, and made some 2,000 tickets to the New Jersey shows available to complaints via random lottery, with promises of additional reparations if Springsteen scheduled a third leg to return to the U.S. in the summer.[47] The company was not fined, but did reimburse the Attorney General's office $350,000 for investigatory expenses.[47] Over 1,800 people qualified for the March 31 lottery,[48] and those that got them eventually picked up their tickets at an amusingly-named "Attorney General Will Call Line" before the shows.[49] In March 2009, Springsteen manager Jon Landau emphasized that Springsteen never directly releases tickets into the secondary market, in the wake of revelations about other artists doing so.[50] In May 2009 – and on the same day that Springsteen would perform at the local Xcel Energy CenterGovernor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty signed into law "the Bruce Springsteen bill", which forbade online ticket sellers from sending frustrated customers to resale sites that offer inflated-price secondary market tickets.[51]

Different but similar Ticketmaster drama occurred on March 20 when tickets went on sale for Springsteen's two Asbury Park Convention Hall rehearsal shows a few days hence. Dozens of fans said that the Ticketmaster automated lines gave messages that no shows were on sale, while those using the human operator lines were able to make purchases.[52] Ticketmaster denied that anything had gone wrong.[52]

The secondary markets ticket saga re-emerged in mid-May during the first leg of the tour when TicketsNow announced they had oversold by some 300 persons the date at Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center.[53] TicketsNow offered double refunds and inferiorally-located tickets to other Springsteen shows, but Springsteen manager Landau was quite unhappy: "We would like our audience to know that this is a problem caused entirely by Ticketmaster and its wholly owned subsidiary TicketsNow. Neither Bruce nor his management have any control whatsoever over these two troubled entities but we deeply resent the abuse of our fans."[53]

When Springsteen's fall Giants Stadium shows were announced in late May 2009, secondary market sellers began advertising steeply-marked up tickets before they went on sale.[54] This caused Attorney General Milgram to file suit against three such sellers for fraudulent behavior, especially given that some of the advertised seat locations did not even exist.[55] On June 1, Congressman Pascrell announced proposed federal legislation, titled the "BOSS ACT" (Better Oversight of Secondary Sales and Accountability in Concert Ticketing), which would require primary ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets were being held back from sale, prohibit ticket brokers from buying tickets during the first 48 hours on sale, and prohibit primary ticket sellers, promoters, and artists from entering the secondary market.[56]

In February 2010, Ticketmaster reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which denounced the company's "deceptive bait-and-switch tactics" regarding phantom tickets, and made reference to an example in which the same 38 tickets to a tour show in Washington were sold and resold 1,600 times.[57] Ticketmaster conceded no wrongdoing but agreed to stop the practice; they also agreed to $1 million in refunds for overcharges for secondary market sales via TicketsNow.[57][58]

The show

Planning and rehearsals

The scene at the first rehearsal show for the tour, at Asbury Park Convention Hall, March 23, 2009.

One idea under early consideration was to include a mini-set at each stop, containing a full performance of one of Springsteen's classic albums.[1] Van Zandt predicted that they would play most of Working on a Dream during the initial stages of the tour, but what the rest of the show would be was uncertain.[7] If the full album idea did go forward, he thought 1980's double album The River combined with outtakes from those sessions would make a full show on its own.[7] Nothing came of the full album notion right away; it would have to wait until the tour's U.S. third leg to materialize.

Per past practice, Springsteen performed a couple of public rehearsal shows at Asbury Park Convention Hall before beginning the tour proper. The eight-minute "Outlaw Pete" from Working on a Dream opened and various other selections from the album were played, but the show generally included patterns and staples of the early Magic Tour and other previous outings. Jay Weinberg did some of the drumming, and the band was augmented by Curtis King and Cindy Mizelle (both veterans of the Sessions Band Tour) as additional backing vocalists.

North American first leg

Deep blue stage lighting matched the album cover's look and feel during a tour performance of "Working on a Dream", one of the few new songs played. Hartford Civic Center, April 24, 2009.

Once the first leg of the tour proper began with the consistent show opener "Badlands"[59] – whose ending, or false ending, was framed with a recurrence of the Magic Tour's question of "Is there anybody alive out there?"[60][61] – several things became apparent. Typical shows contained only three songs from Working on a Dream: "Outlaw Pete" (initially accompanied by a fog machine),[62] "Working on a Dream", and "Kingdom of Days".[63] This was in stark departure from all previous Springsteen tours, when material from newly-released albums was heavily featured. One other recently-released Springsteen song, "The Wrestler", was also included in about half the set lists, although it did not share the new album's romantic pop style.[63] Of the other Working on a Dream songs, a couple were never attempted in private rehearsal; some others were rehearsed privately but not publicly; "This Life" and "Surprise Surprise" did not survive past the first Asbury Park rehearsal show; "Good Eye" did not survive past the first proper show; and "My Lucky Day" was played in the first three shows before being dropped. The disappearance of "This Life" and "My Lucky Day" were especially notable, given the former had an elaborate, extended multi-part Brian Wilson-style "Ba ba ba" outro section featuring the two added singers in its one rehearsal performance, and that the latter was the album's second single. Nor was the prior album Magic given any due, with only "Radio Nowhere" included. Set lists relied mostly upon Springsteen material up through 1984's Born in the U.S.A., 2002's The Rising, and a few scattered selections from any other period.

Commenting on the paucity of new material, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested that the whole production would more accurately be named the Havin’ a Blast Tour.[64] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said that "The strange thing ... is that the 'Working on a Dream' tour no longer seems to be about 'Working on a Dream'" and suggested that the album was unpopular among many fans and as a result, "Springsteen, always the savvy showman, has chosen not to shove it down anyone's throat."[65] Springsteen fans instantly discussed and analyzed setlists as shows happened on the Backstreets.com BTX website,[66] associated with which Twitter and other sources were used to post, or in some cases crudely broadcast, shows as they happened. E Street bassist Garry Tallent and guitarist Nils Lofgren found themselves amused that fans had complained on the previous Magic Tour of too much new material being played, and were now complaining of too little.[65][66] Guitarist Steve Van Zandt said that the Working on a Dream songs that were played were "big" songs, so that made up for their lack of number.[67]

Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More" in its customary tour spot of leading off the encores. Meadowlands Arena, May 21, 2009.

One theme that was apparent in the show was the ongoing late-2000s recession. The early part of shows contained a "recession pack" consisting of "Seeds" (brought back from the 1980s), "Johnny 99" (elongated with incongruous train "woo-whoo's"),[68] and either "Youngstown" or "The Ghost of Tom Joad"[59][65][69] (both featuring fiery guitar solos from Nils Lofgren).[68][70] Encores began with a rendition of Stephen Foster's 1850s classic "Hard Times Come Again No More"[68][71] – which provided one of the few featured spots for King and Mizelle,[49][69] who otherwise played a lot of tambourine – and later included both of Springsteen's reunion-era encore epics of American struggle, survival and hope, "Land of Hope and Dreams" and "American Land".[69] Van Zandt said that the emergence of the recession theme was in part what led the show in a direction away from showcasing the Working on a Dream album.[67]

One holdover from the latter stages of the Magic Tour was the "Build Me a House" stage rap, now located in "Working on a Dream".[59][63] Springsteen would say: "We're not just here to rock the house tonight. We're going to build a house.... We're going to use the good news and we're going to use the bad news. We've got all the news we need - on this stage and in those seats."[72]

An even more visible holdover was the 'signs' segment.[19] This would begin when Springsteen collected request signs from the pit audience as an extended introduction to "Raise Your Hand" was played.[59] Once that song completed, Springsteen selected two or three numbers to play from the requests. The first was often a garage rock classic such as "Wild Thing", "96 Tears", or "Mony Mony" or a punk rock staple such as "I Wanna Be Sedated" or "London Calling".[19] This activity was billed as "Stump the Band",[63][64] and led to impromptu arrangements being worked out onstage.[67] Springsteen would sometimes taunt the audience afterwards with declarations that the E Street Band could not be stumped, such as saying in Atlanta's Philips Arena, "...this is the greatest bar band in the land, and if they don't think we know 96 fuckin' Tears!"[73] The immediate introduction of the signs segment surprised even E Street guitarist Nils Lofgren, who thought Springsteen would hold it off until later in the tour.[19] The precise degree of challenge in this segment was unclear, as lyrics were often loaded into the teleprompter that Springsteen uses[19][64] and in some cases the songs had been soundchecked earlier.[74] In any case, most of the challenges were to the band's shared knowledge of British Invasion, Motown, Stax-Volt, and other 1960s material.[66] Springsteen subsequently said, "we started to take unusual requests and do songs that we'd never played before, just depending on the common memory that the band would have from everyone's individual playing experience as teenagers. We ended up with a system where we can jump on a lot pretty quick."[75] Other honored sign requests were usually for songs early or obscure in Springsteen's catalog.

Show lengths were generally between 2 hours 30 minutes to 2 hours 45 minutes.[59][63][64][69] Springsteen scheduled his two Philadelphia shows at the soon-to-be-demolished Spectrum,[61] commenting that "They don't make arenas like this anymore" and stating that the smaller size and lack of luxury boxes made the old venue "ideal for rock shows."[76] The Spectrum had seen Springsteen's first headlining arena show in 1976 during the Born to Run tours, and now he said they would "fulfill our solemn vow to rock the Spectrum one more time."[76] Accordingly the band played local act The Dovells' 1963 hit "You Can't Sit Down" among other Philadelphia-related selections.[68][76] Springsteen voiced similar sentiments about the old-but-still-going Nassau Coliseum, and selected The Soul Survivors' 1967 hit "Expressway to Your Heart" as a tribute to the nearby Long Island Expressway.[72]

Jay Weinberg appeared at a number of shows on the first, North American leg, drumming on anywhere from four songs to half the show.[14][59][77] He had been a fan of heavy metal music for much of his life,[14] and in playing with Springsteen he integrated a polyrhythmic approach influenced by metal bands such as Lamb of God, Mastodon, and Slipknot with the E Street drumming style derived from big bands and early rock and roll.[78] He received a very positive reaction from both audiences and reviewers as a spark plug for the band,[77] with his vigorous, long-hair-flying style inviting comparisons to Dave Grohl[68] and his potential for replacing his father drawing allusions to Wally Pipp.[59][78] Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot wrote, "All hail Jay Weinberg. ... With [him drumming] the band’s chemistry was slightly unsettled for the better. ... His fills during 'Radio Nowhere' kicked the song, and the concert, into a higher gear, and galvanized a band that was starting to pace itself."[70] Jay Weinberg said "it's a summer job that anybody would want,"[14] while Max Weinberg said Jay's segments allowed him a "total out-of-body experience. For the first time in – I've been with Bruce for 35 years – I've been able to go out in the audience and enjoy a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert."[78] Jay Weinberg played his first full show on May 14 at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York, as Max Weinberg was in California to prepare test runs for the The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien start.[71][79] Springsteen said of the occasion, “This is the first night in 35 years that somebody else sat at the drums.”[71] Overall, Modern Drummer magazine's editor said that a college freshman playing on one of the year's biggest rock tours was "certainly a unique story".[79] For the final Meadowlands Arena shows of the first leg, Jay Weinberg did the first but his father took a red-eye flight back from Los Angeles to do the second.[80]

European second leg

Once the show moved into its European second leg, more Working on a Dream songs began to sporadically appear, with "My Lucky Day" becoming a regular for a while and "Queen of the Supermarket" getting its first airing anywhere. For Scandinavian shows, as band members walked on stage, Lofgren opened with solo accordion performances of local summer-themed specialties, "Idas Sommarvisa" in Sweden[81] and "Du skal ikkje sova bort sumarnatta" in Norway.[82] Jay Weinberg did the first seven shows, as his father was now beginning The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.[80]

Springsteen and the band perform before a sea of flags at the Glastonbury Festival on June 27, 2009.

Springsteen and the band returned to the U.S. to make their first-ever appearance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival, as the headlining act on June 13, 2009.[83] Playing before festival audiences who were not guaranteed to be fans of his music was largely new to Springsteen, but after a slow start the show captured over most of the Bonnaroo audience.[84] The following night, Springsteen joined the recently reunited and headlining Phish for three songs, "Mustang Sally", "Bobby Jean", and "Glory Days".[83] Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio said later, "I got to play with Bruce. That's my hero."[83] The Bonnaroo performance of "Outlaw Pete" was included on a Fuse TV show of festival highlights, and the performance of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" included a bit with Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog singing along that was included on a Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien segment.[85] Springsteen subsequently reflected, "We played festivals for the very first time on this tour, and that was one of the greatest experiences of all of them. That was an eye-opener. When we played Glastonbury [...] you come out and there's like 100,000 kids in their 20s and under. It was fun playing on bills with other bands, and it's something I'd do again in the future."[75]

On June 25, Max Weinberg departed The Tonight Show temporarily for four weeks to join the band for the resumption of its European leg, via a comedy bit that had his drum riser turn into a float that took him outside and studio and purportedly to the airport.[86] During this stretch, Jay Weinberg did not appear during any of the shows until reappearing during the Spanish shows at the end of the leg. While wife Scialfa was nowhere to be seen in Europe, their son Evan appeared and played guitar during encores of a number of shows,[87] while Ali Weinberg and Clarence Clemon's nephew also made playing appearances and Springsteen's mother and aunt also took the stage.

Springsteen performing at the August 1, 2009, show at Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain.

Lofgren continued his practice of often opening shows with national songs played on accordion. Set lists continued to loosen with many tour premieres showing up in request slots or elsewhere, and shows sometimes running to 30 songs in length.[87][88][89] After a while, the encore break was disposed with and the show ran continuously to the end without the band ever leaving the stage.[87] Springsteen ran past local curfews at both Dublin shows and at Glastonbury.[90] The Dublin violations resulted in a potential €50,000 fine, but Springsteen mocked the prospect by on-staging a bit: “We have to go, we have a curfew!” with Van Zandt replying, “We don't care about the curfew, this is the curfew breaking Boss and E Street Band!"[90] "American Skin (41 Shots)" made unexpected appearances in Dublin and at several stops in Italy,[91] while "My City of Ruins" was played at Stadio Olimpico in Rome in honor of the victims of the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake.[92] The European leg ended with five shows in Spain, at more out-of-the-way locations than in the past; the last of these shows, at the Monte Do Gozo in Santiago de Compostela, played "Rockin' All Over the World" but concluded its encore with "Born in the U.S.A." after 1 a.m. local time. Max Weinberg immediately flew back to Los Angeles and resumed his role on The Tonight Show later that same day.

U.S. third leg

The American third leg began in mid-August with shows at outdoor amphitheaters as well as indoor arenas. Shows were often scheduled for weekends, to allow Max Weinberg to play without missing any Tonight Show time; Jay Weinberg played those shows held during the week. Then on September 25, Max Weinberg took a two month absence from the television show, to join Springsteen for the final portion of the leg. Ticket sales were slower than normal on this leg, partly due to Ticketmaster's new "paperless ticketing" system that may have come into effect due to the earlier problems with Springsteen sales.[93] In arenas that did not sell well, management relocated the people who bought tickets behind the stage to other sections and put up the screen used for stadium and amphitheater shows behind the stage. In a hint to fans to buy up, Van Zandt said, “You never know. This could be be the last tour. We do every show like it’s our last show anyway.”[94] In any case, by September 2009 the tour had sold over two million tickets overall.[94] Even some shows in Philadelphia, long a Springsteen bastion, were not sold out.[95]

Fireworks go off at the conclusion of the "E! Street! Band!" exhortation at the end of "American Land", during the third of five final shows at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. October 3, 2009.

During the U.S. third leg, it was reported that Born to Run would be featured in its entirety during several shows, possibly in a scheme to boost ticket sales.[93][96] The full-album idea took fruition with the late September-early October set of five shows at Giants Stadium, which would be the final concerts ever in that venue in Springsteen's home state.[97] Born to Run was played at two shows, Darkness on the Edge of Town at one show, and Born in the U.S.A. at two shows.[98] Springsteen later said of the full album idea, "We had done so many shows and were going to come back around one more time, so we were like, 'OK, what can we do that we haven't done? Let's try to play some of the albums.' There were some people who were starting to do it, it sounded like a good idea, and my audience fundamentally experienced all my music in album form. People took Born to Run home and played it start to finish 100 times; they didn't slip on a cut in the middle. And we made albums – we took a long time, and we built them to last. ... Those records are packed with songs that have lasted 30–35 years. It simply was a way to revitalize the show and do something appealing and fun for the fans, but it ended up being a much bigger emotional experience than I thought it would be."[75]

The Giants Stadium shows were opened with a new Springsteen song written for the occasion, "Wrecking Ball", written from the point of view of the stadium itself:[99] “I was raised out of steel here in the swamps of Jersey, some misty years ago ...”[100] The stand featured several other new touches as well, including Springsteen crowd surfing during "Hungry Heart", evocative behind-the-stage upper-level lighting during "The Rising", and fireworks at the "E! Street! Band!" conclusion of "American Land".[99][101] The final show, which drew nearly 60,000 people,[101] concluded with the second playing on the stand of "Jersey Girl", dedicated to “all the crew and staff that’s worked all these years at Giants Stadium.”[99]

The full album versions continued, as well as a localized rendition of "Wrecking Ball", at Springsteen's four shows to close out the Philadelphia Spectrum as well;[95] some 43 different songs were playing during the stand.[75] Apart from the album playings, Springsteen's kept setlists flexible during the third leg; sign requests continued, as in Springsteen's words they allowed "the fans to have input into the show in a way that just pumps the blood into everything and enlivens the evening."[75] Born to Run remained the standard full album choice for the rest of the tour, but the two shows at New York's Madison Square Garden saw The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle and The River, with the latter's 20-song length dominating the setlist. Springsteen felt The River show succeeded, saying "I sequenced [the album] to feel like a live show, so you have four fast songs and a couple of ballads. It played real well when we went to play it."[75]

Springsteen's show on November 13, 2009 at The Palace of Auburn Hills outside Detroit, Michigan became well known for Springsteen's multiple statements to the crowd about being in Ohio, the first as he came on, the second during the lyric to "Wrecking Ball", and the third in the "Build me a house" rap during "Working on a Dream".[102][103] (The band had played in Cleveland, Ohio, three nights earlier.) By now getting some boos from the crowd, guitarist Van Zandt, who had hoped Springsteen would stop making the mistake on his own, finally went over to Springsteen and corrected him: "‘You don’t realize it, but you’re saying Ohio and we’re in Michigan.’ He was like ‘What!?’"[103] Springsteen then told the crowd that he had committed "every front man's nightmare," and made a show of saying "Michigan" from then on.[104][105] The Spinal Tap-esque blunder attracted worldwide television and print publicity.[103][104][106][107] (The show subsequently featured a rare performance of Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man", appealing to Seger's fan base in Detroit.[104] After the song Springsteen shouted "For Bobby – we love you!" and proceeded to play "Detroit Medley".) Springsteen made joking references to being in Ohio, or made exaggerated statements as to being in the correct state, in subsequent shows.[108]

During the final stretch of the tour, the final encores of many shows presented a long, rousing, ebullient rendition of Jackie Wilson's classic "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher".[104][109][110] Showcasing featured vocals from Cindy Mizelle or Curtis King and trumpet solos from Curt Ramm, the song stretched to eight minutes with key changes, reprises, and walks through the pit area by Springsteen and the singers, and became recognized as one of the highpoints of the entire tour.[110] Springsteen dispelled any notion of this being the final E Street Band show or the last for a long time;[75][111] in an interview near the end of the tour he said, "We're playing to an audience now that will outlive us. But at the same time the band is very, very powerful right now. And part of the reason it's powerful is that it's carrying a lot of very strong cumulative history. You come and you see 35 years of a speeding train going down the track, and you're gonna get to be on the front end of it. We look forward to many, many more years of touring and playing and enjoying it."[75]

The tour concluded with the November 22, 2009, show at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York.[111] Fans came from far away and the show dominated the feel of the city that day.[111][112][113] The full album played was Springsteen's first, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., which he wryly said "was the miracle. This was the record that took everything from way below zero to ... one."[111] The performance of it was dedicated to his first manager and producer, Mike Appel, who was present in the audience,[113] and featured quite rare renditions of "Mary Queen of Arkansas" and (the first ever with the E Street Band) "The Angel".[111] Other rarities peppered the 34-song, nearly 3½-hour night, including Chuck Willis's "(I Don't Want to) Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes" and, to mark Steven Van Zandt's birthday, totally obscure outtake "Restless Nights" (supposedly Van Zandt's favorite Springsteen song) and a now-unusual second song from the current album, "Surprise Surprise".[111][112] Near the end he said, "So we're gonna say goodbye, but just for a little while ... a very little while ..."[111] The tour finished not with the emotional statement in song that some other Springsteen tours have in the 2000s, but instead with John Fogerty's "Rockin' All Over the World".[111][113]

Critical and commercial reception

Springsteen exhorting the audience during "Raise Your Hand", August 1, 2009 at Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain.

Newspaper reviews of the show often commented on the high level of energy and stamina the nearly 60-year-old Springsteen brought to the concerts.[59][63][64] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Chicago Tribune favorably compared Springsteen to the rest of the band in this regard, saying "Some of the guys in the band look their age"[64] and "they lack the physicality, the sustained urgency of their prime."[70]

The Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News both commented on the fundamental problem that Springsteen seemed to be facing on the tour. The former said "Bruce Springsteen may well have miscalculated earlier this year when he released Working on a Dream, one of the most hopeful and downright happy sounding albums of his career just as a cratering economy was rendering the songs of struggle and strife that are his stock in trade more resonant than they have sounded in years."[69] The latter said, "As Don Rumsfeld might say, you don't go on tour with the album you wish you had, you go on tour with the album you've got. So Springsteen faces the tough task of hyping a new romantic pop record while simultaneously offering hope and support to a wounded nation – not an easy task."[114] Rolling Stone voiced a similar theory.[49] Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot wrote that "If there was a disappointment, it was that Springsteen didn’t make a stronger case for his latest album, Working on a Dream. I’m not a fan of the album, but I always look forward to how the singer reinvents his studio work on the stage. In this case, however, he barely touched the new material ..."[70] Views on one the early-in-show, eight-minute "Outlaw Pete", one of the few new material centerpieces, varied considerably.[60][62][70]

The San Jose Mercury News and the Connecticut Post both gave the show a mixed review, with the former saying it was "decidedly subpar"[114] and latter saying "the concert itself wasn't as captivating as past visits to the state."[63] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Philadelphia Inquirer were unreserved in their praise, with the former saying Springsteen "deliver[ed] a show that proves boomer-oriented rock ‘n’ roll can still tear it up"[64] and the latter saying Springsteen adapted to circumstances "with an altered game plan that wisely plays to his strengths."[69] The Greensboro, North Carolina News & Record said that "Springsteen and the E Street Band were received like conquering heroes during an exhilarating three-hour show that repeatedly drove the adoring, near-sellout crowd into fist-thrusting, sing-along frenzies."[77] The Globe and Mail said of the tour's sole Canadian show, "an evening with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band still ranks as the epitome of the rock concert experience."[60] Rolling Stone said of the first leg's concluding New Jersey shows, "Springsteen tours don’t usually hit highs like this until the end, but the band has essentially been on the road since September of 2007."[49]

The entire band stage front at the conclusion of the August 1, 2009, show at Estadio José Zorrilla, Valladolid, Spain.

Of the European shows, critical reaction was generally quite favorable. The Irish Times said Springsteen showing no signs of age as he neared his 60th birthday, despite taking a spill during his stage antics in rainy Dublin, and remarked upon how "a set that features so many songs about the toughness of life ... can be delivered with such extraordinary verve that by the time you leave, you’re very glad to be alive."[87] The Independent echoed the sentiment in reviewing the Hyde Park show, writing that he showed "the vigour of a frontman a third of his age" and that "Springsteen's intensity was staggering from first powerful vocal to final thrashed-out chord."[115] The Bath Chronicle saluted Springsteen's performance at Glastonbury, saying "As all the tickets were sold before Springsteen was even confirmed on the bill, he must have known he was facing something very rare for him – the musical equivalent of a sporting 'away match' where not everyone was necessarily a worshipper at the altar of Bruce."[4] They concluded that Springsteen gave "a performance of passion, exuberance, exhilaration and musical majesty" while sticking with his standard tour set list and not resorting to playing many of his better-known hits.[4]

Of the final Giants Stadium stand, the New York Daily News said that "Wrecking Ball" was "a rousing declaration of defiance in the face of destruction," and overall said that "Once again, this proved [Springsteen] to be one of the few performers charismatic enough, and anthemic enough, to use the stadium scale to his advantage."[116] Entertainment Weekly called "Wrecking Ball" "an inspiring start to another of the marathon three-hour shows Springsteen still manages to put on night after night."[100] The New York Times said of the full performance of Born in the U.S.A. that "Springsteen sang with deeper nuance ... the songs have not faded."[99] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune said that while during the first leg of the tour the band had "appeared to be running on fumes", the Born to Run album performance was "easily the best Springsteen show with the E Streeters I'd seen since the '80s."[117]

Looking back on the tour as a whole, and in combination with the preceding Magic Tour, Billboard magazine cover story stated that "Even for an artist who has largely built his career on epic shows, Springsteen and the E Streeters have managed to find yet another gear at this stage in their legendary career."[75] Springsteen himself said, "With the end of these shows, we're coming to the end of a decade-long project that really was a tremendous renewal of the power, the strength and the service that our band hopefully provides."[75] Springsteen also touted the quality of the shows: "I believe if you come and see us now you're seeing the best E Street Band that's ever played."[75] Specific shows from the tour were named as among the best concerts of 2009 by Spin magazine,[118] The Philadelphia Inquirer,[119] the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,[120] and the Chicago Tribune.[117]

Through September 2009, the Working on a Dream Tour was in the top five in grosses of 2009 tours worldwide, alongside the U2 360° Tour, Coldplay's Viva la Vida Tour, and AC/DC's Black Ice Tour.[121] For all of 2009, the Working on a Dream Tour was the third-highest grossing tour, trailing only U2 360° and Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour.[122] It grossed over $156 million, was seen by over 1.7 million ticket holders, and sold out 42 of 72 non-festival shows.[122] Unlike the past Magic and Devils & Dust Tours, the Working on a Dream Tour failed to win any Billboard Touring Awards. The tour completed a busy ten years on the road for Springsteen, who ranked fourth among pop artists for the decade in terms of total touring grosses.[123]

Band members

Scialfa missed some shows on the first leg due to injuries received from falling off her horse,[59][69] then due to family responsibilities, and was absent from all the shows on the European leg. She continued to miss all but a handful of shows during the U.S. third leg, including only making it to two of the five final Giants Stadium performances. As on the Magic Tour, Tyrell has assumed a more prominent role when Scialfa was absent.[70] Clemons continued to have a diminished physical role on stage due to his multiple physical problems,[70] and was scheduled for spine surgery once the tour concluded with a 12-month recovery period.[124] As mentioned previously, Jay Weinberg substituted for Max Weinberg on a number of dates, and the two alternated for portions of the show on a number of other dates. Ramm, a veteran of the Sessions Band Tour, played on several songs per show during much of the U.S. third leg.

Broadcasts and recordings

Several of the tour's festival appearances have been aired on television or radio during 2009.

One song's worth of the June 13 Bonnaroo Music Festival appearance, "Outlaw Pete", made it into a U.S. packaged broadcast of festival highlights for television, "The Best of Bonnaroo 2009", that appeared on Fuse TV on June 20.

Portions of the June 27 Glastonbury Festival performance were aired live on BBC Television and BBC 6 Music radio.

In conjunction with the Fourth of July holiday in the U.S., E Street Radio featured 45 minutes from the July 3 Frankfurt Commerzbank Arena show.

In the U.S., the Hard Rock Calling Hyde Park appearance was included in an August 21 broadcast on the VH1, VH1 Classic, and Palladia cable channels. Seven Springsteen and E Street Band performances, including "London Calling" to open the program, were included in amongst other artists' performances.

Several shows were filmed, but at the tour's conclusion no decisions had been made about whether to release them on DVD or other media.[75]

Tour dates

North America
Date City Country Venue Attendance Ticket grossing
Tickets sold Tickets on sale Percentage sold
April 1 San Jose, CA United States United States HP Pavilion 16,713 17,196 97.2% $1,535,889
April 3 Glendale, AZ United States United States Jobing.com Arena 15,433 15,433 100% $1,377,875
April 5 Austin, TX United States United States Frank Erwin Center 15,654 15,654 100% $1,302,672
April 7 Tulsa, OK United States United States BOK Center 12,382 12,382 100% $1,039,926
April 8 Houston, TX United States United States Toyota Center 12,488 12,488 100% $1,106,977
April 10 Denver, CO United States United States Pepsi Center 17,202 17,414 99% $1,555,204
April 15

April 16

Los Angeles, CA United States United States L.A. Memorial Arena 31,080 33,094 94% $2,807,010
April 21

April 22

Boston, MA United States United States TD Banknorth Garden 33,035 33,477 98.7% $3,006,655
April 24 Hartford, CT United States United States XL Center 15,168 15,168 100% $1,405,050
April 26 Atlanta, GA United States United States Philips Arena 14,361 15,190 94.5% $1,324,980
April 28

April 29

Philadelphia, PA United States United States The Spectrum 35,165 35,165 100% $3,389,857
May 2 Greensboro, NC United States United States Greensboro Coliseum 18,987 19,462 97.6% $1,573,072
May 4 Uniondale, NY United States United States Nassau Coliseum 16,223 16,223 100% $1,548,658
May 5 Charlottesville, VA United States United States John Paul Jones Arena 12,099 12,099 100% $1,058,115
May 7 Toronto, ON Canada Canada Air Canada Centre 18,103 18,103 100% $1,438,244
May 8 University Park, PA United States United States Bryce Jordan Center 14,238 14,238 100% $1,305,880
May 11 St. Paul, MN United States United States Xcel Energy Center 18,369 18,369 100% $1,698,637
May 12 Chicago, IL United States United States United Center 19,828 19,828 100% $1,870,670
May 14 Albany, NY United States United States Times Union Center 15,096 15,096 100% $1,377,450
May 15 Hershey, PA United States United States Hersheypark Stadium 29,745 29,745 100% $2,859,106
May 18 Washington, DC United States United States Verizon Center 17,859 18,261 98% $1,680,376
May 19 Pittsburgh, PA United States United States Mellon Arena 16,572 16,881 98% $1,367,577
May 21

May 23

East Rutherford, NJ United States United States Izod Center 38,502 38,502 100% $3,559,260
Europe
May 30 Landgraaf Netherlands Netherlands Pinkpop Festival 40,000 40,000 100%
June 2 Tampere  Finland Ratinan Stadion 31,402 31,402 100% $3,326,646
June 4

June 5 June 7

Stockholm  Sweden Stockholms Stadium 97,024 97,024 100% $7,877,161
June 9

June 10

Bergen  Norway Koengen 47,000 51,000 93% $4,613,805
June 13 Manchester, TN United States United States Bonnaroo Festival 60,000 60,000 100%
June 27 Glastonbury United Kingdom United Kingdom Glastonbury Festival 135,000** 135,000** 100%
June 28 London United Kingdom United Kingdom Hard Rock Calling 50,000 50,000 100%
June 30 Bern Switzerland Switzerland Stade de Suisse 36,538 36,538 100% $3,816,416
July 2 Munich  Germany Olympiastadion 39,896 44,186 90% $3,723,108
July 3 Frankfurt  Germany Commerzbank Arena 40,471 40,471 100% $3,765,940
July 5 Vienna Austria Austria Ernst Happel Stadion 37,798 42,380 89% $3,324,987
July 8 Herning  Denmark MCH Arena 49,947 49,947 100% $4,770,172
July 11

July 12

Dublin  Ireland RDS Arena 80,428 80,428 100% $8,760,349
July 14 Glasgow Scotland Scotland Hampden Park 50,544 50,544 100% $4,378,752
July 16 Carhaix  France Festival des Vieilles Charrues 45,000 45,000 100%
July 19 Rome  Italy Stadio Olimpico 37,834 42,479 90% $2,944,904
July 21 Torino  Italy Stadio Olimpico di Torino 32,774 32,774 100% $2,639,310
July 23 Udine  Italy Stadio Friuli 28,356 28,356 100% $2,104,035
July 26 Bilbao  Spain San Mames Stadium 36,318 36,935 99% $3,409,189
July 28 Sevilla  Spain La Cartuja Olimpic Stadium 24,030 36,724 68% $2,204,863
July 30 Benidorm  Spain Estadio Municipal de Foietes 19,629 34,150 58% $1,722,842
Aug 1 Valladolid  Spain Estadio José Zorrilla 32.213 32.213 100% $2.510,720
Aug 2 Compostela  Spain Monte Do Gozo 36,502 36,502 100% 3,381,498
United States
Aug 19 Hartford, CT  United States Comcast Theatre 15,745 24,729 76% $950,865
Aug 22 Aug 23 Mansfield, MA  United States Comcast Center 31,842 39,800 82% $2,546,748
Aug 25 Saratoga Springs, NY  United States Saratoga Performing Arts Center 17,682 25,559 70% $1,047,945
Sep 12 Tampa, FL  United States Ford Amphitheatre 13,763 19,144 71% $1,011,698
Sep 13 Ft. Lauderdale, FL  United States BankAtlantic Center 11,586 13,836 82% $1,049,482
Sep 16 Greenville, SC  United States Bi-Lo Center 10,281 10,938 95% $831,990
Sep 20 Chicago, IL  United States United Center 18,249 18,249 100% $1,739,826
Sep 21 Des Moines, IA  United States Wells Fargo Arena 8,451 15,448 59% $678,928
Sept 30

Oct 2 Oct 3

Oct 8 Oct 9

East Rutherford, NJ  United States Giants Stadium 260,668 270,388 95.6% $22,570,336
Oct 13

Oct 14 Oct 19 Oct 20

Philadelphia, PA  United States Wachovia Spectrum 60,516 65,120 92.9% $5,972,428
Oct 25 St. Louis, MO  United States Scottrade Center 11,178 15,048 74.3% $847,038
Oct 26 Kansas City, MO
CANCELED[25]
 United States Sprint Center
Nov 2 Washington, D.C.  United States Verizon Center 17,545 17,545 100% $1,653,329
Nov 3 Charlotte, NC  United States Time Warner Cable Arena 12,385 16,197 76.5% $855,357
Nov 7

Nov 8

New York, NY  United States Madison Square Garden 37,064 37,064 100% $3,459,026
Nov 10 Cleveland, OH  United States Quicken Loans Arena 16,232 17,261 94% $1,426,330
Nov 13 Auburn Hills, MI  United States The Palace of Auburn Hills 15,170 19,431 78.1% $1,169,764
Nov 15 Milwaukee, WI  United States Bradley Center
Nov 18 Nashville, TN  United States Sommet Center 11,044 14,297 77.2% $929,165
Nov 20 Baltimore, MD  United States 1st Mariner Arena 14,679 14,679 100% $1,295,766
Nov 22 Buffalo, NY  United States HSBC Arena 18,665 18,665 100% $1,489,441
TOTAL 1,502,995 1,625,132 90% $161,989,299

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