Bruce Springsteen: ‘This is the only thing I’m qualified to do. It matters how I do it’

From the Guardian

Ahead of his shows in Australia, the Boss explains the art of performance and never taking an audience for granted

Bruce Springsteen: ‘You’re dealing with the alchemy of yourself and your audience, and that’s a swirling, changing experience from moment to moment.’ Photograph: Jon Super/Redferns

You must feel an incredible sense of power, standing in front of 80,000 people. And with great power comes great responsibility, as Spider-Man put it. Do you feel that responsibility, too?

Well, you’ve got to look at it … you go out on stage each night as if, one, it’s the most important thing in your life you can do, two, it’s only rock’n’roll. You’ve got to be able to keep those conflicting points of view in your mind at the same time without letting either of them drive you crazy, or taking either of them at 100% face value. That’s sort of how you live with it. But it is something you asked for. You can’t get around that part of it. You just do your best with it.

Your show is about delivering to the audience moments of transcendence – it’s something you’ve spoken about. When you go on stage do you have any idea where those moments might fall, or where you want them to fall? Can you pace a set like that?

You can’t predict it. Every show is so organic. I’ve never played two shows that are the same, in all the years we’ve been playing. You’re dealing with the alchemy of yourself and your audience, and that’s a swirling, changing experience from moment to moment. I go out and I both guide and allow myself to be guided by the audience. And those moments happen … There’s a structure to the show that builds to certain points, it ebbs at certain moments, but there’s always a moment of surprise – those moments will come up and surprise me during the course of the evening, and you’ll just play something where I’ll just look at Steve [Van Zandt] and we’ll go, “Yeah, that. We got that.” We’ll just look at each other and go, “Wow. That was a great moment.”

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