Without wanting to fuel rumours or raise false (high) hopes, this is essentially the one question that everyone I spend a certain amount of time with on February’s tour of Australia was left pondering before the final shows across the ditch in New Zealand.
One 10-date tour last year wasn’t enough. Especially when the results of that Tom Morello-fused trip down under included a new album.
So was a second tour, including stops in Perth and Adelaide and four full-album shows – less than a year later enough?
Not if you believe the rumours that circulated the many groups of fans I had the pleasure of sharing shows, drinks and hours upon hours in line with.
In fact by the time the E Street Band reached Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, Springsteen’s end of show sign off to the crowd that ‘the E Street Band loves ya!’ and ‘we’ll be seein’ ya!’ did in fact mean that once again we could all be forced to book time off work, cancel holiday plans and raid our credit cards for the third tour in as many years.
Normally I would be the first to put this down to just wishful thinking.
Two prolific tours within 12 months isn’t unheard of in the band’s recent history, but three in two years would be extremely unlikely for a tour operation that size.
Also, both visits to Australia came on the back of two different album releases so it would be fair to assume that another trip would coincide with another timely release.
But there are several reasons why it might not be that inconceivable.
They were right last time
Before the final Hanging Rock show in 2013, rumours in the GA pit were wildly circulating that plans were already underway to bring the band back the next year.
The Wrecking Ball tour had been such a success with people travelling across the country to get to the shows, there was every reason to believe they would want to return as soon as possible.
This time as well as rumours of a full The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle night in Brisbane, fans who had gotten close to the band were already predicting that Springsteen, the band and the crew were planning on coming back as soon as next year.
These rumour spreaders, amongst several different groups of fans, were right about the full E Street Shuffle show and just as confident about the 2015 return.
The band seem to love Australia
You only have to check out Springsteen’s website, or any number of the Facebook fan groups, to see how much he and the band enjoy their time here. It’s not just the chance of a summer holiday in winter but also the ease of being able to travel across the continent without too much hassle.
In Europe hundreds of fans are known to wait outside hotels for a glimpse of the band, in Australia they can mostly sit in the band’s hotel bar and wait for them. Not to mention trips to the beach, the zoo or the dry cleaners.
E Street is more accessible than ever
Whether it’s the multitude of books, the Springsteen & I documentary, or the pulling up of dozens on stage every night, Springsteen himself is more open with his fans than ever. He obviously won’t come right out and say it, there probably isn’t even any firm plans in place. But if he says it’s something he genuinely wants to do, it would be a safe bet that it’s somebody’s job somewhere to make sure he gets what he wants.
Meanwhile, in many interviews in the past few years Springsteen has said that he’s no intention of slowing down while the band are at their best and the light at the end of the tunnel is ‘getting closer’.
Everyone’s making a killing
It’s not cheap to go to a Springsteen show, but people will still pay through the nose to get tickets to every concert and the promoters know it. This alone is all the incentive promoters like Michael Gudinski and Frontier Touring need to do whatever they can to bring them back again and again. I don’t think anyone’s in any doubt that these guys had to do a lot to bring Springsteen and the band here for the first time in 10 years, and it has clearly worked.
The 2013 Wrecking Ball tour was already a dream come true for many fans in Australia. And this year’s shows, complete with headline-making cover songs and full-album performances took that to a whole new level.
There’s always rumours of another new album
Not everyone was happy with the format of High Hopes – the release Springsteen himself called his ‘anomaly’ album. Instead many fans are waiting for a full album of original material with some underlying theme driving the style and tone of his work that has been demonstrated in recent decades. So even with the release of High Hopes, fan discussion following intense analysis of published interviews with Springsteen and the band easily lead to the assumption there was more to come. And that it would come sooner than we think. (And if you are to consider the four-track American Beauty release for Record Store Day, these assumptions weren’t too far wrong.)
But aside from all the excitement, expectation and Springsteen’s apparent love of surprising his fans at any given moment, speculation of a 2015 return does come with the question many debt-ridden tour followers ask: Do we want Springsteen to return so quickly?
At the end of February whenever discussion about 2015 rumours came up they were always met with the regrettable realisation that a longer break between tours would be welcome, and the hope that if he is back then, it’s at the end of the year, not the same time as the previous summer time shows.
This response was no doubt partly in response to tour/roll call-fatigue - which after 10 shows in three weeks can easily set while you’re waiting for that final wristband.
In fact, after a few weeks of hotels, flights and racing for the low numbers, you would be surprised how quickly real life comes calling.
Especially near the end of the road.
A road which goes from being wide open and full of hope to being dominated by big, bright signs warning about out how much mileage is left in the financial tank, and how long you’ll be working before you can get back out on the tour highway again.
FROM POST-BRUCE BLUES TO TOUR DATE LIMBO
But as The E Street Band revisit cities across America and dates in Europe crumble through the rumour mill, fans in Australia who take notice of the rumours remain in a strange limbo between wild speculation and verified confirmation of any future tour.
The result is any holiday, home renovation or expensive car upgrade plans have to answer to the voice in the back of their mind telling them that maybe they shouldn’t spend their money or sacrifice their annual leave just yet in case Bruce does come back.
And when he does it following him across the country for weeks at a time really will be the final time they indulge in the once-in-a-lifetime, may-never-happen-again event.
Until of course the penultimate show of that tour… when rumours of another return creep from backstage.
Until then, head to
in the public vote category.