Bruce Springsteen’s performance of David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel

Bruce Springsteen Live Rebel Rebel

Photo: By Manuel Martinez Perez [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Bruce Springsteen’s performance in Pittsburgh P.A. of David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel at the opening of the River Tour, was a fitting tribute to the legendary David Bowie. Bruce Springsteen was flacked at both sides by his longtime guitarists Steven Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren. Backed by the entire E Street Band , Bruce Springsteen opened the concert with a few words of tribute to David Bowie. Springsteen thanked David Bowie for the artist’s support during the earlier part of Springsteen’s career. Bruce mentioned that David Bowie had covered a few of Springsteen’s songs in the early 1970’s. David Bowie had performed Bruce Springsteen’s “Its Hard to be a Saint in the City,” and “Growing Up.” Both of those songs were released on Bruce Springsteen’s first album Greetings From Asbury Park.

The performance of David Bowie’s Rebel Rebel began with Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt sharing the legendary opening guitar riff. Nils Lofgren join in on the second round just before the band kicks in before the opening vocal. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band stayed faithful to the original version without varying at all from Bowie’s arrangement.

Over the years, Bruce Springsteen has paid various tributes to musicians and artists who passed away while Bruce was on tour. Perhaps the most emotional tribute of all time happened on the original River tour when John Lennon had been murdered. The band played Thunder Road in tribute to John Lennon in a very moving and emotional performance. Steven Van Zandt had spoken about that performance in which he stated that in 1980 he had already played Thunder Road thousands of times.However,  on the night after John Lennon had passed away he had felt like he was playing it for the first time due to the emotional trauma that everyone had been going through. For many, music is one of the greatest healing agents to get through traumatic loss. Bruce has been one that has always been there for all of us.


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