Just last week, Bruce Springsteen announced that his four upcoming South American shows would mark the end of his Wrecking Ball tour – but days later, he revealed that he and the E Street Band were headed to Australia and New Zealand in February for a whole new set of shows.
Springsteen’s announcement makes it clear that these new shows aren’t part of the Wrecking Ball tour. So what are they, exactly? Springsteen’s reps have declined to comment, but here are three possible scenarios, ranked in order of likelihood:
1. The Australian tour is part of a separate tour in support of a new album. Springsteen launched the 2009 Working on a Dream Tour just eight months after the Magic shows ended in 2008. This could be a similar scenario, especially since Springsteen hasn’t launched a full-fledged tour without a new album to promote since 1999 (and even then, 1998’s Tracks almost counts). An Australian promoter has told the press that Tom Morello will playing with the E Street Band on this tour, just as he did when the band toured Australia earlier this year. But back then he was subbing in for Steve Van Zandt (who was off filming Lilyhammer), and this time Steve will be there – which means there will be a total of at least four guitarists in the E Street Band. Springsteen recently told Rolling Stone that he recorded new material with the E Street Band and Morello in Australia this year, so maybe that was the start of a new album that prominently features Morello. The album could conceivably hit stores within the next few months, and he could spend the rest of the year on the road touring behind it. That might even explain why the tour isn’t coming back to America this year: He doesn’t want to squeeze the U.S. markets dry before his next tour.
2. The Australian tour is merely a quick one-off series of shows. Jon Landau said in a statement that they started plotting this tour out way back in March. The band hadn’t been there in years, and they were drawing huge crowds of young fans. It’s beautiful in Australia in the summer, and a quick tour the following year probably sounded like a fun way to reward a country that had been under-served on recent outings. The dates will happen in isolation and then Springsteen will go away until he launches another tour in support of a new record. It would be a highly unusual move for Springsteen, who generally spends a great deal of time planning out the themes and setlists of his tours, but maybe they got an offer they couldn’t refuse.
3. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band are now on a Bob Dylan-style never-ending tour. Springsteen is in incredible shape for sixty-three, but he must know that he can’t do three-and-a-half-hour shows forever. His three children are now out of the house, and he clearly loves performing. Why do tours need to have clear start and stop dates? Everyone from Metallica to Elton John to Paul McCartney launches tours whenever they feel like, regardless of how recently they released a new album. Why should Springsteen be any different?