Tue Jul 08, 2003 11:52 am
<b>All Hail Bruuuce!</b>
By Ray Waddell
NASHVILLE (Billboard) - In what is shaping up as his most successful world tour in nearly 20 years, Bruce Springsteen has added more U.S. stadiums to his summer route, including an inaugural rock engagement at Boston's legendary Fenway Park.
Any doubts about Springsteen's stadium-level attraction have been erased by the huge numbers he is garnering in Europe and the United States. Springsteen sold 1.1 million tickets in 24 European stadiums this year, according to his handlers. This came on the heels of 46 worldwide arena dates.
In the U.S., he has sold nearly 1 million tickets for his stadium shows, which begin July 15 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
Though the 30 or so U.S. stadium shows will be in Springsteen's most loyal markets, <b>there is no denying that this is an impressive run for an artist more than 30 years into a national touring career.</b>
Since last August, Springsteen has sold about 3 million tickets on his tour with the E Street Band in support of his 2002 Columbia release "The Rising." His 41 North American arena dates grossed $47 million and drew close to 650,000, according to Billboard Boxscore data.
With the European shows completed, the tour is about to shift into another gear. "Right now, we have 23 stadium shows on sale, and around 20 of them are virtually sold out; the other three are close to it, with plenty of time before the shows come up," says Jon Landau, Springsteen's longtime manager.
The final European show -- June 28 at Stadio Meazza in Milan -- drew 61,000 ecstatic fans. Landau describes it as "one of the four or five best Bruce shows of all time."
That triumph followed other winning dates, including two shows in Gothenburg, Sweden, that drew 57,000 each, and two shows in Helsinki that drew a combined 110,000.
"We were on fire over there," Landau says.
In terms of numbers, Springsteen's upcoming run at Giants Stadium is unequaled. By the time he wraps his 10 stadium dates, Springsteen will have sold a record 550,000 tickets, grossing in the $37.8 million range -- another record. <b>Tickets are priced at $55 and $75.</b>
[ DJC note: this is a rock bottom fee for an artist of Springsteen's stature, especially noteworthy since his tours never carry any corporate sponsorship, unlike the Rolling Stones, for example ]
The previous one-act world-record gross was from seven Rolling Stones sellouts at the Tokyo Dome in 1995 that drew 285,294 people and grossed 2.5 billion yen ($27.6 million). The multi-act Woodstock '99 bill grossed $28.8 million.
Springsteen will also top his own personal and U.S. box-office record of $19 million from 15 shows that drew 304,785 people in summer 1999 to the Continental Airlines Arena, which is also part of the Meadowlands Complex that includes Giants Stadium.
<b>FENWAY'S GLORY DAYS</b>
As impressive as the New Jersey numbers look, what Springsteen is pulling off in Boston is, in many respects, equally noteworthy.
The artist had already nearly sold out two shows at Boston's Gillette Stadium for Aug. 1-2 when he announced two shows at the legendary Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. The stadium's only other music event was held in 1973, when Fenway hosted George Wein's Newport Jazz Fest, with a bill that included Stevie Wonder.
The Springsteen camp has a Boston connection. "Bruce Springsteen's manager, Jon Landau, and tour manager, George Travis, are both from Boston," points out Dave Marsden, VP/director of bookings for Clear Channel Entertainment (CCE), promoter for the Boston shows. "Apparently, Bruce had some dates in early September, and somebody at his camp looked and saw the Red Sox were out of town for 10 days in that time frame."
Springsteen's management asked CCE to check into the possibility of doing a show at Fenway. The last time any promoter had pitched a show for Fenway was in 1991, when a proposal to bring in Paul McCartney never came to fruition.
The Springsteen situation fell into place. "They approached us with a can-do attitude, and we felt we should take a good, hard look at it," says Larry Cancro, senior VP of Fenway Affairs and a 19-year Red Sox veteran. "The 1973 event was just a partial use of the ballpark. This will really be the first time we've had a concert at Fenway."
The Springsteen camp's willingness to include Sox season-ticket holders in the equation with a presale was "a distinct benefit" to bringing in the show, Cancro says. About 80% of the season-ticket holders took advantage of the option.
Including on-field seating, capacity for the Sept. 6-7 shows will be 36,298 each, bringing Springsteen's Boston potential total to 150,000 from four shows.
Fenway will be used under a rental agreement, and the team will keep concession revenue.
Modern, lighter staging and equipment, along with improved field-protection systems, also helped make the concert happen. Asked whether Springsteen's shows would open the door to more concerts at Fenway, Cancro stresses that this is an unusual situation.
"What made this work particularly well for this artist is we looked at his demographic and compared it to our crowd, and we realized we would be doing the same thing we normally do," Cancro says. "We're just going to do it with seats on the field and with music instead of baseball. This is something we know we do well."
The Boston market responded. The Fenway shows went on sale June 27, and all tickets for both shows were gone in less than an hour. "Bruce has never played a stadium date in our market, and now we've got four," Marsden says. "Without question, Bruce Springsteen is at the very top echelon of artists here in the Boston market."
<b>HOPING FOR A HOME RUN</b>
When the concert is in the books, Cancro says, the Sox organization will evaluate how well it went. "Considering this just fell into our laps, the prudent thing to do is see how it works out and whether it's a home run or something that needs to be refined before we do it again. We're going to try our best to make sure this is a great event in every way--not just for the people attending but also for the neighborhood and the people of Boston. I will say it has created quite a buzz."
Springsteen will play three other Major League Baseball parks on this trek: Chicago's U.S. Cellular Park (Aug. 13), Detroit's Comerica Park (Sept. 21) and Milwaukee's Miller Park (Sept. 27).
Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. (Sept. 14), and Ralph J. Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, N.Y. (Sept. 20), have also been added to the itinerary, joining Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium (Sept. 25), Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia (Aug. 8, 9 and 11), FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. (Sept. 6), and the 10 Giants Stadium dates (July 15, 17, 18, 21, 24, 26 and 27 and Aug. 28, 30 and 31).
Additional stadium dates will be announced this month, with the tour expected to end on or around Sept. 30.
The summer Springsteen run comes at a time when stadium tours are almost nonexistent on the touring landscape. Metallica's Summer Sanitarium metal package and the Rolling Stones' scattered international Licks stadium dates are the lone tours hitting the biggest venues this summer.
Springsteen last toured stadiums in 1985 to close out his Born in the USA tour. He was the top-grossing act of that year, earning about $37 million and drawing more than 2.1 million fans.
<b>As for those who thought the artist no longer had stadium-level box-office clout, Landau -- and the ticket tallies -- say: "They were wrong."</b>
Tue Jul 08, 2003 3:16 pm
And the really good news for fans ,is what Steve van Sandt had to say in a recent interveiw regarding future plans for the band as an ongoing concern after this tour ...go to backstreets.com for the link.
Wed Jul 09, 2003 6:52 am
If I didn't like big auditoriums, I would certainly check out Bruce. I just can't handle the big shows anymore. Give me a theatre that seats 2-3000. That's more my style. Of course, I will never see the big names of today. But I did see Merle Haggard two months ago and will see Willie Nelson next week. Both shows were only $30 and I will be 10 rows from the stage.
Nice to see the low prices for the Springsteen shows. The guy has class and is not greedy.
Wed Jul 09, 2003 7:54 am
dude, TRUST ME...if u ever have the chance, GO SEE SPRINGSTEEN!!! it will be definetely worth your while and value for your hard earned cash!!! I got my tickets for the Chapel Hill show on 9/14/03 and it will be my 4th Bruce concert in 4 years! the man is UNBELIEVABLE live and no record has really captured the essence of a live Springsteen show. I took my cousin (24 years old) and his friend (22 years old) and there into new sh*t like Linkin Park and stuff and they were blown away w/ Bruce! they couldn't believe the energy he put out and by the end of that show, they knew the songs and went out and bought "The Rising"! I've seen tons of live shows and BIG names and NO ONE can compare....well...unless it's ELVIS! LOL
Thu Jul 10, 2003 1:45 am
minkahed wrote:dude, TRUST ME...if u ever have the chance, GO SEE SPRINGSTEEN!!! ... the man is UNBELIEVABLE live ... NO ONE can compare....well...unless it's ELVIS! LOL
Right on the money, minkahed! Too bad more people don't see the light.
Bruce Springsteen is, quite simply, in a class of his own.
Thu Jul 10, 2003 4:28 am
Bruce is ok......but Macca's THE DADDY!!!....(we are talking about living singers here)......otherwise-ELVIS is of course, THE DADDY.
Thu Jul 10, 2003 12:39 pm
Indeed, Bruce is a phenomenal artist!
His live performances really kick ass!
Lately, I've listened quite a lot to "The Rising" album, and it grows on me every time I play it! Brilliant cd!
Also, here in Europe a special On Tour Edition of The Rising have been released, featuring a dvd with the following:
Lonesome Day music video
Waitin' for a Sunny Day live in Barcelona 2002 FANTASTIC!
The Rising live at MTV 2002
Mary's Place live in Barcelona 2002 FANTASTIC!
Dancing in the Dark live in Barcelona 2002
But what REALLY blows me away, is the double DVD Bruce & the E Street Band live in New York City! Once again; Fantastic performance!
The highlights are queued up in line!
To those who don't already own this masterpiece of a DVD; buy it!
You won't regret it...
Thu Jul 10, 2003 8:21 pm
Damn right Springsteen rocks - he's from New Jersey, after all
I should go up to Freehold one day to see where he lived.
And - I must say - "The Rising" is such a masterpiece. What a great album. I really hope the Boss records another one with the band (what the hell took him so long?)
My all time favorite album? "The River". I don't even own it - must correct that soon. Let me also say that the "Greatest Hits" CD is a joke. They really, really need to do a "Best Of" and make it a 2-CD set with the works. Everything from "Sprit In The Night" to "The Rising".