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“It took a long time,” Springsteen told the audience after finishing the first song, stepping away from the microphone and speaking directly to the crowd. “In 71 years on the planet, I haven’t seen anything like it in the past year.”
He spoke at length of his mother, Adele Springsteen.
“She has had Alzheimer’s for 10 years,” he said. “She is 95. But the need to dance, that need to dance, has not left her. She can’t speak. She can’t stand. But when she sees me, she smiles. “
And he addressed the riots across the country.
“We live in difficult times,” said Springsteen. “Certainly not in my lifetime, when the very survival of democracy, not just who will run the show for the next four years, but the very survival of democracy itself is deeply threatened.”
Then he started one of three new songs on the show, “American Skin (41 Shots),” a ballad about Amadou Diallo, a Guinean immigrant who was fatally shot by police in New York City in 1999.
Amid the new material (including a new duet “Fire” with his wife Patti Scialfa), the rhythms that marked the first run of “Springsteen on Broadway” quickly found their groove. Hours before the show, a crowd gathered outside the side stage door, a relic from Springsteen’s previous Broadway run, as fans cried out for a look at the rock star’s arrival every night.
“It’s just epic that the boss is opening us up again,” said Giancarlo DiMascio, 28, who had shut down from Rochester to see the show (his 49th Springsteen concert). “It’s big for New York, it’s big for art and culture here, and this opening is a sense of normalcy.”