Bruce Springsteen’s seventeenth studio album “Wrecking Ball,” has been called one of the angriest recordings of his career by Rolling Stone, and tonight, the Penn State community will have the chance to feel The Boss’s wrath.
Springsteen and his famous E Street Band will take the stage of the Bryce Jordan Center for the latest stop in the record-shattering “Wrecking Ball” World Tour, presented by Magic City Productions. The tour is shaping up to be one of the most successful of the year, with an estimated revenue of more than $100 million in ticket sales.
Springsteen previously performed at the BJC in May 2009 in support of his “Working on a Dream” album, which sold more than 3 million copies worldwide despite receiving mixed reception from music critics. One of the discs’ bonus tracks, the title song for the Academy Award-nominated film “The Wrestler,” won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2009.
Scheduling a big name artist like Springsteen doesn’t come without its risks, however. Prior to the official announcement in late July, Ticketmaster prematurely released details about the concert without the approval of Springsteen’s management, an action that BJC Director of Sales and Marketing Bernie Punt initially believed would cause the show to be called off completely.
“Some artists have special presales with national sponsors and that’s how (sometimes) dates get listed on Ticketmaster before it’s announced,” Punt wrote in an email to the Collegian in July. “If the management of an artist doesn’t want any information released, then yeah, they could get upset enough to pull the potential date.”
Granted, Springsteen has certainly been around the block a few times as far as extensive stadium tours go. This January will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of his debut album, “Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ” in 1973, but at 63, he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon.
“Wrecking Ball” alone has earned widespread critical acclaim, including a rare five-star rating from Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, and his latest slew of East Coast shows have been singled out for their high-energy performances and marathon setlists that clock in at around three hours or more.
“Think of it this way: performing is like sprinting while screaming for three, four minutes,” Springsteen said in an interview with The New Yorker over the summer. “And then you do it again. And then you do it again. And then you walk a little, shouting the whole time. And so on. Your adrenaline quickly overwhelms your conditioning.”
Perhaps the most notable feature of the tour, however, is that it’s the first without longtime member and saxophone player Clarence Clemons, who died of a stroke in 2011. The surviving members of the band undoubtedly still feel his loss to a great degree, but recent concert reviews suggest the new five-man horn section — which features Clemons’ nephew, Jake — is more than capable of filling his shoes.
With the election less than a week away and several of “Wrecking Ball’s” pervasive themes addressing the country’s economic decline — as well as his frustration with the government’s so-called lack of accountability — it’s certainly possible that Springsteen will focus part of his attention on encouraging students to vote.
Just last Saturday, he put on a free concert in support of President Obama at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh mere hours before taking the stage at the Consol Energy Center. He also performed at campaign rallies in Ohio and Iowa earlier this month.
Jerry Zolten, an associate professor of communication arts and sciences at Penn State Altoona who co-edited “Bruce Springsteen, Cultural Studies, and the Runaway American Dream,” published in March, finds it “heartening” to see Springsteen continue to be successful over the years and isn’t at all surprised by the excitement generated by his forthcoming visit to the area.
“I can’t name a rock n’ roll star — or any showbiz figure for that matter — who has remained so vital, so relevant for so long,” Zolten wrote in an email. “Frankly, I tip my hat to him. It is an association Penn State can be proud of!”
John Weigle, a native of Springsteen’s home state of New Jersey whose fandom dates back to listening to his dad’s records as a child, bought his ticket for the show around the time they first went on sale in early August and expressed his enthusiasm at the prospect of seeing The Boss for the first time.
“Even now that he’s old, I’ve just heard that he still puts on such a great show,” Weigle (senior-engineering science) said. “I’m sure he’s gonna throw a shoutout to New Jersey and all the stuff that’s been going on there [during] the last 24 hours.”
Tickets for the concert are still available for purchase at the BJC, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 814-865-8555. Prices are $105.50 for GA floor and reserved seating and $70.50 for reserved seating. Students with a valid Penn State ID+ will receive a $20 discount courtesy of UPAC.