Volume 18 • Issue 36 | January 20 - 26, 2006

Downtown Express photos by Jefferson Siegel

About 2,000 people waiting for the concert to start.

Bruce wows the Winter Garden

By Josh Rogers

Not every boss likes it when you suck up.

After a night of listening to covers of his “Nebraska” album and reverential explanations of how the songs capture the working class’s desperate struggle to achieve the American Dream, Bruce Springsteen made a surprise appearance at the Winter Garden Saturday and joked that his fellow musicians’ interpretations were all wrong.

The Boss told the crowd he wrote the songs “to get women to take their pants down.”

Bruce Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, grab a drink at the Grill Room after the concert.

Springsteen came out for the finale of the 2006 New York Guitar Festival’s opening night and seemed a little reluctant to take center stage. He joined Vernon Reid of Living Colour fame, Michelle Shocked, Dan Zanes, former lead singer of the Del Fuegos, and others for a rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “Oklahoma Hills” as many of the 2,000 or so in the crowd either stood up or moved closer to get a better look.

Before taking the stage, Springsteen spent most of the evening standing with the Winter Garden crowd, his arm around his wife, said Bruce Cohen, spokesperson for one of the evening’s sponsors, the World Financial Center Arts & Events program.

“Most of the show he was hanging,” said Cohen, who didn’t see anyone notice the star in the audience. Afterwards, Springsteen spent two hours in the nearby Grill Room talking music with the other performers, who asked him to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

The free concert, called “The Nebraska Project,” was a tribute to the mostly-acoustic 1982 album which the Boss, in his more serious moments, says is one of his favorites. The concert was arranged by the festival’s co-founder, David Spelman, and included two songs that didn’t make the “Nebraska” cut but were hits on Springsteen’s next, more-commercially successful album, “Born in the U.S.A.” — Chapin sang the title track and Harry Manx sang “I’m on Fire.”

Chapin did a stripped-down, blues version of “Born in the U.S.A.,” and for the finale, bounced and sang with her baby son Maceo, who wore headphones to protect his ears.

The event was across the street from the World Trade Center site and although Springsteen did write an entire album of songs about 9/11, “The Rising,” the concert would have been an unusual setting to talk about the Sept. 11 attacks and he did not mention them during his brief remarks to the crowd.

The Winter Garden was crowded, but not so packed that the doors were shut as they were in the ‘90s for a New Year’s Eve celebration or in 2003 for the “21 Pianos” concert.

Who knew Bruce was in the house?



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