Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream tour wraps its current U.S. run in a week, but the E Street Band are heading to Bonnaroo on June 13th, and guitarist Steven Van Zandt has begun spilling details about what fans can expect at the Manchester, Tennessee festival.
While many acts might feel pressured to cater their set list to the unique venue, Van Zandt insists E Street are sticking to the Working on a Dream script. “Every time [Bruce] writes the new album, he is basically writing a new show. He is saying something with that particular album, and then we build the show around that with the other songs from the past, and then see what connects to it — what amplifies that idea, what complements that idea,” he says. “So, we don’t particularly change things according to who the audience is or not. We kind of do what we do, and then you just hope people dig it.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t impulsiveness to the E Street show, as the band has rattled off impromptu covers of Clash, Ramones and Troggs tunes in recent weeks. “We build a certain amount of spontaneity right into the show,” Van Zandt says. “These last couple tours, in particular, we’ve been taking requests from the audience and really turning arenas and stadiums into clubs. Last tour, people would come with signs a lot of obscure Bruce songs. It just loosens everybody up and keeps the thing fresh, and there’s nothing like playing the song, you’ve never played before and never rehearsed before, before 20,000 people.”
For Springsteen fans, the biggest question leading up to the Bonnaroo performance is who will be the E Street drummer: Max Weinberg or his son Jay, Springsteen’s “secret weapon” who will fill in for his father whenever scheduling conflicts arise with Max’s other gig as band leader of the upcoming Late Show With Conan O’ Brien. “You know, I’m not sure. I’m really not sure,” Van Zandt admits. “I mean, they are obviously both great.”
In regards to why the Working on a Dream tour set lists have featured a diminishing amount of Working on a Dream songs, Van Zandt says the current economic situation has inspired Bruce to resurrect songs like “Seeds” and “Land of Hope And Dreams.” While time may be limited at Bonnaroo — the E Street Band are flying over from Europe before their headlining set — Little Steven also says he hopes to air a special edition of his Underground Garage program for the festival’s Radio Bonnaroo station.