Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band returned to Saturday Night Live for the first time since 2002 to serve as musical guest for the show's Tina Fey and Amy Poehler-hosted episode Saturday. In addition to performing a pair of cuts from The River's deluxe reissue The Ties That Bind, Springsteen and company had a Christmas surprise at the ready for episode's end.
Springsteen an the E Street Band, as a preview for their extensive The River tour in 2016, first busted out the live debut of "Meet Me in the City," one of the many unreleased tracks from the productive River sessions that were finally untethered from the vaults for The Ties That Bind. Springsteen followed that up with an exhilarating rendition of The River's opening track "The Ties That Bind," which featured a solo by saxophonist Jake Clemons, the nephew of the late Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons.
However, the biggest surprise of the night was reserved for the episode's closing moments, when Poehler and Fey, the entire cast of SNL and, inexplicably, Paul McCartney, joined Springsteen and the E Street Band for a festive take on the band's Christmas classic "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." McCartney's participation was hinted by Springsteen's Twitter, which warned fans, "Got a few surprises in store for
#SpringsteenSNL tonight ...and make sure to stay up for the end credits!" (Springsteen later tweeted a photo of him and McCartney hanging out backstage pre-show.)
The secret was finally revealed when McCartney casually strolled onstage with sleigh bells in hand to join in the festivities and help close out SNL's 2015.