Bruce Springsteen Makes Surprise Appearance At Clarence Clemons Tribute

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Bruce Springsteen

(Bruce Springsteen performs with J.T. Bowen. Photo: Mike Black)

Bruce Springsteen treated the patrons of an Asbury Park, NJ, bar to a 45 minute set last night to honor his friend and E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who died on June 18 of a stroke.

The night at the bar was scheduled as a “Tribute to the Late, Great Clarence Clemons,” and included sets by his son, Nick Clemons, as well as J.T. Bowen and the Soul Cruisers. Bowen, who was the lead singer for Clemons’ band, the Red Bank Rockers, in the 1980s, invited Springsteen onstage during their set.

Springsteen joked, “I wore the wrong shirt,” as he took the stage in his flannel and jeans while the Soul Cruisers donned their sequined red and blue shirts. Springsteen proceeded to bust out “Action in the Streets,” which he hadn’t played live since March 25, 1977, with the E Street Band in Boston.

The set, which started around 9pm, also included a host of covers, including “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg,” “Shake,” “Sweet Soul Music,” and “You Can’t Sit Down,” all four of which benefitted from the four-piece horn section as well as the quartet of singers in the Cruisers.

Springsteen began to let loose during the E Street Band staple “Raise Your Hand,” taking an extended guitar solo and obviously feeling the vibes from his impromptu backing band. Springsteen and the Soul Cruisers closed out the show with “Knock on Wood,” and a prolonged “643-5789,” songs that Springsteen is known for performing at more intimate shows.

The show, which was Springsteen’s first since Clemons’ death, ended around 9:45pm despite several cries for more tunes from the 400 patrons. Even though their requests weren’t answered, we’re sure they all went home happy that were able to witness one of the greatest songwriters of the past 40 years in such an intimate setting.

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