When Clarence Clemons passed away last June, Nils Lofgren had no idea whether Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band would ever play together again.
“The thoughts that ran through my head were ‘should we tour’ and ‘could we tour,” Lofgren said while calling from Greensboro, NC minutes after completing a show. “But that was not my decision. That was for the bandleader and I’m not the bandleader.”
The bandleader, who goes by the apt nickname, ‘The Boss,’ made the decision to carry on. “I wouldn’t begrudge any bandleader for deciding to not play again after losing such a key member but Bruce wanted to play with us again and we went for it. It’s been tough because it was a brutal loss and remains so. But we’ve done our best to make our way through it.”
Springsteen and the E Street Band, who will perform Wednesday and Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center, are touring behind its first post-Clemons release, ‘Wrecking Ball,’ which is full of passionate, powerful and provocative rock.
“I think Bruce nailed it with this one,” Lofgren said. “It sounds great when you play it but we take it to another place live.”
After playing the Grammys, ‘Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,’ the Apollo Theater and South By Southwest,’ Springsteen and the E Street Band are finally on tour.
“It feels like we’re back home now that we’re on the road and it’s just a regular show,” Lofgren said. “I loved doing Jimmy Fallon, South By Southwest and all of the other stuff but we’re in our usual comfortable place playing together night after night going from city to city, like we normally do.”
A five-piece horn section, which includes saxophonist Jake Clemons, The Big Man’s nephew, has done a fine job filling some awfully large shoes.
“There is no Clarence number two but he (Jake Clemons) has done a fabulous job,” Lofgren said. “I think we’re playing well. But I still can’t help but think about Clarence. It just doesn’t go away. His funeral services were on my 60th birthday. I didn’t expect us to go out since it was such a somber day but my wife took us out to celebrate my birthday. It was actually less of a celebration and more of a commiseration. It’s been so hard. But we’re out there doing what we love. We all love being on tour.”
Lofgren has been a road dog for 43 years. “It’s a good thing,” Lofgren said. “It’s how you learn to play. There are people out there, who do great work in the studio but aren’t so sure of themselves on the stage.”
The E Street Band is the ultimate road act, who couldn’t be more confident about delivering a great performance.
“With us, it’s like you’re going to a game and you know you’re guaranteed a win, you just don’t know about the point spread.”
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