Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off the final leg of the Wrecking Ball tour last night in Santiago, Chile, their first show in South America since the Amnesty International Human Rights Now! tour in 1988. By coincidence, the show fell on the 40th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power, beginning a dark and violent chapter in the country’s history.
The main set was largely indistinguishable from any other show on the Wrecking Ball tour, but when Springsteen returned to the stage for the encores he addressed the crowd in Spanish. “In 1988 we played for Amnesty International in Mendoza, Argentina, but Chile was in our hearts,” he said according to a translation on the fan site Backstreets. “We met many families of desaparecidos, which had pictures of their loved ones. It was a moment that stays with me forever. A political musician, Victor Jara, remains a great inspiration. It’s a gift to be here and I take it with humbleness.”
Jara was tortured and killed in the immediate aftermath of the coup. One of the last songs he wrote was “Manifiesto,” which Springsteen covered in the original Spanish. He followed it up with “We Are Alive.” That’s a song about dead Americans sending out a message of hope from beyond the grave, but it clearly took on a new meaning at this show.
The tour continues through the next week with shows in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and São Paulo, Brazil, before wrapping up September 21st at the Rock in Rio Festival in Brazil. That marks the official end of the Wrecking Ball tour, but another tour begins next February in Australia. It’s unclear whether or not that tour will continue through 2014.