Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show is coming to Netflix – does its move from stage to TV work?

When Bruce Springsteen plays the final date of his residency at the Kerr Theatre in Manhattan on 15 December, he will have appeared at the venue 236 times since the first night, 14 months ago. It’s been quite a run; lucky he was born to do just that.

The next day, he will take his Springsteen on Broadway show to the world. Not by embarking on a tour – though he is expecting to play gigs in the UK next year – but through a Netflix film directed and produced by Emmy award-winner Thom Zimny.

Critics fell over themselves to praise the stage production. The concept was simple: Springsteen delivering a monologue about his life, interspersed with solo performances ranging from “Growin’ Up”, from his 1973 debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, to the likes of “Dancing in the Dark”.

A pioneering kind of rock retrospective

This is an age when every major musician of sufficient vintage has released an autobiography, as Springsteen himself did in 2016, or collaborated on documentaries such as Brett Morgen’s Crossfire Hurricane (The Rolling Stones), or Martin Scorsese’s No Direction Home (Bob Dylan).

But Springsteen on Broadway is an original form of retrospective – and one you can imagine other ageing rockers repeating.

Why take your creaking body on tour when you can stay at home and have your fans come to you? It’s also surely more fun than sitting with a ghostwriter for months, and more personal than being interviewed in front of a camera for hours. Oh, and the cash helps, too: tickets at the Kerr have ranged from $75 (£59) to $850 (£667).

Whether this kind of show works for viewers on TVs, laptops and tablets is a different matter, of course. With the electricity of close physical presence removed, watching anyone nattering about themselves can be a different prospect – even if it’s The Boss.

How does the Netflix film compare to the stage show?

Zimny decided to add nothing to the stage show’s formula. There is no behind-the-scenes footage, nor any interviews with collaborators or fans.

“Having seen the show from the first rehearsals, I knew as a film-maker that no shot or cutaway could ever equal the power of seeing Bruce on stage just playing and talking,” he says.

“I recall quietly listening to him tell a story, describing in detail a beautiful journey with all the emotions of one of his songs. I recall the laughter of the show, the realisation of the power of his music, the sonic qualities of the theatre, and the sound his boots made walking across the stage floor.”

The goal, according to Springsteen’s manager, Jon Landau, was to “bring this incredibly intimate show to Bruce’s entire audience intact and complete”.

The filming of 'Springsteen on Broadway' is as stripped back as the singer's solo performances of his songs (Photo: Netflix)
The filming of ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ is as stripped back as the singer’s solo performances of his songs (Photo: Netflix)

Does this approach make ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ a good watch for TV?

The result is not unlike a musical TED Talk, a more fleshed-out version of those by Sting (“How I started writing songs again”) and Mark Ronson (“How sampling transformed music”).

Springsteen’s chats are dripping in nostalgia, yearning and earnestness – simultaneously self-deprecating and self-aggrandising.

There are moving moments, including a tearful recollection of his father admitting he’d been a bad parent, and thoughts of who went to Vietnam in his place when he dodged the wartime draft.

He’s funny, too, admitting to the contradictions between his songs and real life: penning his paean to cars, “Racing in the Street”, when he barely knew how to drive; writing about escaping from factories he never worked in; still living 10 minutes from his hometown. “Born to come back: who’d have bought that shit?” he jokes.

I can’t help thinking that displaying archive photos during some of the monologue – showing us childhood shots while he recalls his first guitar lessons aged seven, for example – would help retain small-screen interest during the two-hour, 33-minute running time.

But the stripped-back songs are superb, especially those he performs with his wife, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa – “Tougher than the Rest” and “Brilliant Disguise”. For those who didn’t make it out to New York, this film is a great consolation.

Springsteen on Broadway’ is on Netflix from 16 December

Read more on Music

Take a look at i‘s new product review section, ibuys, where you can find expert advice on everything from Christmas gifts to kitchen appliances.

The post Bruce Springsteen’s Broadway show is coming to Netflix – does its move from stage to TV work? appeared first on inews.co.uk.

***

Note from WSOE.Org : This content has been auto-generated from a syndicated feed.