Flashback: Bruce Springsteen's Explosive Launch to 2016 'River' Tour

Nothing is confirmed at the moment, but it seems quite likely that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are planning to tour Europe next year. The rumor mill went into overdrive during Thanksgiving week that dates were about to be announced, and fans even spotted an advertisement at a German bus stop for a June 10, 2022 show at Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt, Germany. But this all happened right as news of the Omicron variant surfaced, which seems to have delayed the announcement.

The band has been off the road for nearly five years, which is the group’s longest break since re-forming as an active unit in 1999 by a fairly wide margin. Their most recent tour was a somewhat impromptu run that Springsteen put together in support of an expanded edition of The River in 2016. The initial plan was merely to play The River straight through at a couple of special, intimate shows in New York and Los Angeles.

“Bruce said, ‘It takes as much time to rehearse for two shows as it does for 20. Why don’t we do 20?’ ” Springsteen manager Jon Landau told Rolling Stone in 2016. “I fell out of my chair.”

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The band wasn’t told until sometime after Thanksgiving 2015 even though the tour was slated to begin in Pittsburgh on Jan. 16th, 2016. “[I was] absolutely delighted,” drummer Max Weinberg told Rolling Stone. “In all of my professional engagements, I have what I call the Springsteen Clause. It’s inviolate. It’s my own version of force majeure. It’s an act of God or Bruce Springsteen. And it works all the time.”

That “act of Springsteen” morphed from two shows to 20 shows to a world tour that kept Springsteen and the band busy for 13 months. Here’s video of opening number “Meet Me in the City” from the tour launch in Pittsburgh. They played The River straight through at every show of the initial American tour, but they dropped that for European stadiums in the summer. When they came back to America for an encore run later that year, the sets were wildly unpredictable affairs that sometimes went past the four-hour mark. Many hardcore fans said these were the best E Street Band shows since the original River tour in 1980–81.

The last show took place Feb. 25th, 2017, at Mt. Smart Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand, just four weeks into the Trump administration. Springsteen stayed busy in the following years with Broadway, his memoir, and Western Stars. The band came back together in late 2019 to record Letter to You at Springsteen’s New Jersey home and plotted out a 2020 tour. But like many 2020 plans, it wound up not happening.

It’s impossible to know for sure what’s going to happen in 2022, but that June 10 show in Frankfurt is probably just one of many gigs they have penciled in presuming Omicron doesn’t lead to more lockdowns. If you want to know other dates, scour the bus stops of Europe and look for more posters. There have to be at least a few more towns that didn’t get the last-minute memo to keep those things locked away.

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