Bruce Springsteen took a break from his Broadway duties on Sunday night to play a surprise three-song set with Social Distortion at the Sea.Hear.Now festival in his adopted hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. By this point in the festival many fans had moved over near the main stage to get a good spot for headliner Jack Johnson’s set and didn’t even realize what they were missing, through the screams of “BROOOOCE” from off in the distance must have given them a clue.
Spingsteen appeared onstage and, to the shock and delight of the crowd, locked voices with Social Distortion frontman Mike Ness for a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” He also played guitar on their original songs “Misery Loves Company” and “Bad Luck.”
Springsteen has played with Mike Ness several times in the past. In May of 2008, he made a surprise appearance at his solo show at the Stone Pony to play “Misery Loves Company,” “Ball and Chain,” If You Leave Before Me” and “I Fought the Law.” In 2009 and 2012, Springsteen invited Ness onto the stage with the E Street Band to perform the 1992 Social Distortion classic “Bad Luck.”
There have not been many Bruce Springsteen performances outside of Broadway’s Walter Kerr Theatre this year, though he has played with Patti Smith at the Beacon Theater after a screening of her Horses documentary, with the Tangiers Blues Band at the reopening of the Asbury Lanes and with Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden to help the Piano Man celebrate his 100th concert at the arena. His final Broadway performance will take place on December 15th and his plans beyond that are unknown at the moment.