The Boss is back. Bruce Springsteen is bringing his E Street Band to Tampa’s Amalie Arena tonight, the first show in a new tour.
Look for our review of the show on tampabay.com tomorrow. In the meantime, we took a spin through our archives to reflect on some past Springsteen moments.
We have to start with this story, a compilation of six Tampa Bay Times writers and one photographer remembering the first time they saw Springsteen live. Our then-pop music critic wrote:
They came from Red Hook. From Rahway. From downtown Cherry Hill.
The purest of the pilgrims, birthed in the same rich soil as their preferred prophet.
Jerseyites. Garden Staters. Backstreeters all.
Blinded by his light since ‘73.
I, on the other hand, came from Washington, D.C., a newbie, an out-of-state plate, a casual admirer in a Jungleland that accepted nothing less than zealous devotion.
Here’s Colette Bancroft, a Springsteen super fan, writing about the singer’s autobiography in 2016:
When I started going to Bruce Springsteen’s concerts back in the mid 1970s, one of the best things about them was the way he introduced the songs.
Born storyteller Springsteen was not content to just shout a title or crash into the opening chords. He told tales, miniature epics full of crazy characters and wild plot twists and moments of hilarity or heartbreak, all exuberantly acted out and complete with sound effects and skillful lighting. Tenth Avenue Freezeout, for example, came with the origin story of the E Street Band, complete with Clarence Clemons’ dramatic arrival amid a raging storm. Often longer than the songs themselves, those intros alone were worth the price of admission.
A decade ago, we reviewed Springsteen’s show at the then-Tampa Bay Times Forum. Bruce and his E Street Band played songs from their new album “Wrecking Ball.” Our then-pop music critic wrote:
The volume remained for the encore: Land of Hope and Dreams, Born to Run. Jake Clemons blew that fat sax line as his Boss stomped and howled and grinned. He invited a young girl onstage for Dancing in the Dark. In the middle of Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, he stopped the song dead in its tracks to honor the Big Man. But it wasn’t a moment of silence; it was a moment of mayhem. Some things change; the Boss, bless his immortal heart, stays the same.
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And finally, here’s a story from Jay Cridlin that reflects on something a little more infamous: “Bruce Springsteen’s Super Bowl halftime crotch thrust in Tampa.” Cridlin wrote in 2019:
Here’s the thing about Bruce Springsteen’s crotch: No one ever saw it coming.
Certainly, it wasn’t what the NFL had in mind, back when it booked Springsteen and the E Street Band to headline halftime of Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa on Feb. 1, 2009. Five years after Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction, the last thing they expected was America’s rock ‘n’ roll dad to come sliding into living rooms zipper-first.
But as we approach the 10-year anniversary of Tampa’s last Super Bowl ... it’s the thing most people remember from what was then one of the most anticipated halftime shows ever.