Bruce Springsteen opened his debut performance of Springsteen on Broadway with a heartfelt tribute to his friend Tom Petty, who died Monday at age 66. The singer-songwriter dedicated the first of his solo acoustic storyteller shows to the late singer-songwriter, along with Petty's family and Heartbreakers bandmates, audience members told The New York Daily News.
Springsteen also saluted Petty via Twitter on Tuesday. "Down here on E Street, we're devastated and heartbroken over the death of Tom Petty," he wrote. "Our hearts go out to his family and bandmates. I've always felt a deep kinship with his music. A great songwriter and performer, whenever we saw each other, it was like running into a long lost brother. Our world will be a sadder place without him."
Springsteen opened his career-spanning Broadway event with "Growin' Up," the second track from his debut LP, 1973's Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., and closed with the iconic title track to 1975's Born to Run. The 15-track set focused primarily on classics ("Dancing in the Dark," "Thunder Road," "Born in the U.S.A."), with a few deeper cuts throughout ("Long Walk Home," "Land of Hope and Dreams").
Last week, in a wide-ranging New York Times interview promoting Springsteen on Broadway, the New Jersey native emphasized that his set – and accompanying stories – will stay locked in throughout the run.
"I've played 'Born to Run' many, many times," he said. "I'm sure if we went on the internet we could find out how many. But the key is, you have to approach it not as a repetition but as a renewal. And to do that your spirit has got to be 100 percent present. But it's a new audience every night. There's new faces, there's new opportunities. Those songs have been very good to me over the years, and in return I try to be good to them. So you have a chance of renewing the emotion and the spirit in that music on a nightly basis.
"That's the place I work to get to every night when I'm onstage," he continued. "I think that if the foundation of what you've built is built well, you'll be able to inhabit it on a nightly basis and your audience will come in and it will feel like they're seeing it for the first time. That's my plan, anyway."
Springsteen on Broadway Set List
1. "Growin' Up"
2. "My Hometown"
3. "My Father's House"
4. "The Wish"
5. "Thunder Road"
6. "The Promised Land"
7. "Born in the U.S.A."
8. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out"
9. "Tougher Than the Rest"
10. "Brilliant Disguise"
11. "The Ghost of Tom Joad"
12. "Long Walk Home"
13. "Dancing in the Dark"
14. "Land of Hope and Dreams"
15. "Born to Run"
Tonite I had the privilege of seeing a “legend” grace us with his words, his thoughts, his music, and his inner most demons. Bruce (the boss) shed his blood and tears providing wisdom worth living. An honor and unforgettable experience was had with me and my father. Minimal words were exchanged by us but tons of feelings emanated from our souls. Goodnight. 🙏 @springsteen
His hits have defined rock radio since the Seventies, and he never stopped writing great music. Here's the definitive guide to Tom Petty's best songs. Watch here.