During 2017 to 2021 Bruce Springsteen appeared at the Walter Kerr Theatre and St. James Theatre in New York, “Springsteen on Broadway.” As Weil/Mann/Leiber/Stoller had it:
“But they’re dead wrong, I know they are
‘Cause I can play this guitar
And I won’t quit til I’m a star on Broadway”
There was a hiatus until February 1, 2023, when Bruce got the whole band back together again and kicked off a tour in Tampa, Florida. By mid-April the band played from coast to coast and in between. Then it was off to Europe, with shows in Spain, Ireland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland, England, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria. . .then back in August to play Wrigley Field and a continuation of the tour.
When he was singing, playing and storytelling in New York, Springsteen was on one of the two stages—just a few blocks away from one another (48th and 44th Streets)—about 260 times.
Looking at the itinerary of the current tour, it seems like he is working to top that while racking up more sky miles than most mileage whores could even dream of.
Last week Springsteen announced on Instagram that the tour would come to a temporary pause. He also noted: “We’ll be back to pick these shows up and then some.” Yes, even more.
The reason for the hiatus is because he has peptic ulcer disease. This disease is manifest by a break in the lining of the stomach or the intestine, a break caused by increased acid. This is not something that is caused by stress, nor is there evidence that it is a result of eating spicy or acidic foods or downing buckets of coffee.
Rather, peptic ulcer disease—which can be life-threatening with the perforation and bleeding that can occur—is thought to have, primarily, two main causes: the Helicobacter pylori bacteria or the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Medical digression: The story of discovering that it was a bacteria rather than stress and stomach acid is a fascinating one; doctors–prior to the work by Professor Barry Marshall and Dr. Robert Warren that led to their discovery in 1982, which resulted in a 2005 Nobel Prize—didn’t believe that bacteria could survive in the stomach: So Prof. Marshall swallowed a dose of H pylori, developed gastritis, then underwent a stomach biopsy, and the H pylori was discovered in the tissues. Clearly a man who was as devoted to his work as Springsteen is to music.
Anyone who has seen Springsteen perform—not on Broadway but the summer of 2017 or before—knows that the man not only plays at length, but he plays hard, and not just in the sense of putting the Telecaster to work in a way that Leo Fender probably never imagined. He jumps, gyrates, runs, slides, and performs both more aerobic and anaerobic exercise in 20 minutes than most of us do in 20 days.
The day after we’ve physically overdone it, it is a matter of reach for the NSAIDs, the aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. Yes, there are an array of liquid, vapor and solids that can be utilized, but Bayer, Pfizer and the rest didn’t get to where they are by not creating some effective analgesics.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine someone like Springsteen—and realize that the man has been performing in public since 1965 and will be celebrating his 74th birthday on September 23—having Costco-sized quantities of NSAIDs on hand.
It is probably vastly underestimated how much wear and tear that travel puts on a person—even traveling in the manner to which Springsteen has earned—so manifesting a disease that is having him stay put—for a while—isn’t surprising.
And it probably goes to explain why there are so many performers who are taking residencies in various Las Vegas venues.
Among those who are include people who readily qualify for membership in an organization known by its acronym:
- Shania Twain 58 years old
- Kylie Minogue 55
- U2 (Bono, 63; Adam Clayton 63; Edge 62; Larry Mullen Jr. 61; Bram van den Berg 40 )
- Garth Brooks 61
- Carlos Santana 76
- Rod Stewart 78
- Keith Urban 55
- Barry Manilow 80
There is something to be said for if not sleeping in one’s bed, then at least one that’s consistent.
When we go to a concert, for a few hours the artists are there, independent of anything else. Or at least so we think. Or actually don’t think.
There may have been a phone call before the show telling them that their dog has died and their spouse got into a fender bender. They may have a headache or a queasy stomach from something they shouldn’t have eaten somewhere along the route from last night’s show to this one’s.
It is a truism that you never see old garbage men. The job is simply too brutal: heat and cold and weight and smells and miles. (And we should all be appreciate of those who do that work.)
It may become more of a truism for musicians, at least in the context of the vintage ones coming to a venue near you rather than you going to where they are.
They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway
There are more of them in Vegas.