Sting’s biennial Rainforest Fund benefit show at Carnegie Hall was officially titled “Baby It’s Cold Outside” this year and nearly all the performers – including James Taylor, Darlene Love, Ronnie Spector and Idina Menzel – stuck to holiday themes. When Bruce Springsteen took the stage Wednesday night, he delivered a couple of Christmas standards backed by the house band, but also reached into his own catalog with an extra-funky “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”Longtime Rolling Stones backup singer Lisa Fischer joined the musician on the song.
Springsteen kicked off his portion of the night in the back of the large theater and walked down the aisle to the stage as the band, which included a large symphony, geared up for “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.” “Is there any Jersey in the house?” he asked. “Oh man, I just got in. I didn’t think I was gonna make it. The north wind is coming down and temperatures are dropping out there!”
The song has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Neil Diamond to Mariah Carey, but a live version taped by Springsteen and the E Street Band near the end of the Born To Run tour in 1975 started getting a ton of airplay after appearing as a B-side to “My Hometown” a decade later. It’s become so popular that fans often insist he sing it at shows all times of the year, most famously at Bonnaroo in June of 2009.
Springsteen followed up the rendition with “Merry Christmas Baby” (which has been part of his live repertoire since 1980), singing much of it from the audience as fans swarmed around him to take selfies. “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” closed out his set, but he stayed onstage to join all the night’s performers on “Do You Hear what I Hear” and “Joy To The World.”
Earlier in the show, James Taylor and Chris Botti sang “Winter Wonderland,” Idina Menzel revived her Frozen classic “Let It Go,” Ronnier Spector delivered “Frosty The Snowman” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and Darlene Love brought out her Christmas masterpiece “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
This will likely be Bruce Springsteen’s final live appearance of 2016. It was a busy year that began with him playing The River all over North America before heading to Europe with a more freewheeling show that came back stateside for a stadium run. He takes the show to Australia in January, though his plans beyond that are unclear.