Two months after pushing the remainder of his tour to next year due to a medical condition, Bruce Springsteen returned to the concert stage Monday night at New York’s David Geffen Hall as part of the Stand Up For Heroes benefit. He’s played practically every year since the annual event began back in 2007, but he wasn’t on the official bill this year since he originally had a show booked that night in Edmonton, Alberta.
Stand Up For Heroes, which was founded by Bob and Lee Woodruff, has raised over $14 million for veterans and their families. It’s part of the New York Comedy Festival and regularly spotlights A-list comedians alongside musical acts. This year’s bill featured Tracy Morgan, Jon Stewart, Jimmy Carry, Ronny Chieng, Shane Gillis, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp, The War and Treaty, and Rita Wilson, along with video messages from First Lady Jill Biden and Prince Harry.
Springsteen first appeared alongside John Mellencamp to perform their 2021 duet “Wasted Days,” which they hadn’t done live up until that point. He kicked off his own acoustic set with two live premieres of his own: “Addicted To Romance” and “The Power of Prayer.” The former song was created with the National’s Bryce Dessner for the soundtrack to the new Peter Dinklage/Marisa Tomei movie She Came to Me. The latter one comes from 2020’s Letter to You. His set wrapped up with “Working on the Highway” and “Dancing In The Dark.”
In keeping with the longstanding Stand Up For Heroes tradition, Springsteen tried out a couple of jokes on the audience. “Life is like a penis,” he said before “Addicted to Romance. “Women make it hard for no reason. Only kidding.”
“Old man sitting on the porch,” he said prior to “The Power of Prayer.” “Kid walking by with a big basket filled with chicken wire. Old man says, ‘Son, where are you going?’ ‘I’m going to get me some chickens.’ ‘Son, you can’t catch no chickens with no chicken wire.’ Kid comes back later that afternoon with a basket full of chickens. Next day, kid comes by the old man on the front porch. Big basket full of duct tape. ‘Where are you going son?’ ‘I’m going to get some ducks.’ ‘You can’t catch ducks with no duck tape.’ Kid goes back that afternoon with a big basket full of ducks. Next day, man sitting on the porch, kid comes back, big basket full of pussy willows. ‘Let me go get my hat.’”
The other big moment at the event took place when Craigslist founder Craig Newmark came onstage and announced a $10 million gift from his foundation to support the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s initiative to improve mental health.
Springsteen has kept a relatively low profile since he announced he was postponing the remainder of his 2023 shows to next year because he’s suffering from a peptic ulcer. He made an unannounced appearance at Monmouth University on October 28 to participate in a symposium commemorating the 50th anniversary of The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, but he didn’t participate in the musical segment at the end where various musicians – including members of the E Street Band – played the album in its entirety. The next night, Springsteen inducted his wife, Patti Scialfa, into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
His official calendar is now blank until he resumes touring with the E Street Band on March 19, 2024, at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s scheduled to wrap up on November 22, 2024, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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