In 1980, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played their album “The River” at Seattle Center. Thirty-six years later, they’ve come back to the same venue for a reprise.
The last time Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band took “The River” tour to the Northwest, it was Oct. 24, 1980, at what was then called the Seattle Center Coliseum — it wouldn’t be named KeyArena for another 14 years.
Springsteen was already a star, but he wouldn’t become a superstar until 1984 with “Born in the U.S.A.” He was 35 the year that album broke big, an unheard-of age for superstardom then, and certainly now.
To many longtime Springsteen fans, Thursday’s sold-out concert at KeyArena will feel like déjà vu. And though Springsteen is 66, he still shows youthful energy, and his concerts on this tour have run longer than those original 1980 marathons. Most of the E Streeters are still with him, though noticeably absent are the deceased Clarence Clemons (saxophone) and Danny Federici (keyboards).
7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at KeyArena, 305 Harrison St., Seattle; sold out (800-745-3000 or keyarena.com).
The songs, however, will be much the same. Bruce has promoted this tour as his chance to revisit “The River,” certainly one of his best albums, but one that was in many ways eclipsed by the mass popularity of “Born in the U.S.A.”
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Last year, Springsteen released a four-CD box set of outtakes and remasters from “The River,” titled “The Ties That Bind.” That refers to a song on the original double LP, but it was also Bruce’s original album title, when he thought of the project as a pop-oriented single album.
Almost as soon as he released the box set he decided to tour with the E Streeters. They skipped Seattle last time, but Thursday is one of two Northwest stops this year. The program will include the full “River” album, in order, with other rarities thrown in.
Springsteen has described “The River” as his “coming-of-age record,” which saw him move his set of characters from “Born to Run” into adulthood. The title track, for example, is a song about his older sister and brother-in-law and their struggles to become parents and forge a marriage in the midst of economic challenges. His young characters face adulthood here, and quickly grow weary of it.
As a double album, “The River” pairs these darker songs with garage-rock anthems like “Crush on You.” At a recent concert in Phoenix, Springsteen described the process of making the record as trying to craft something big “that felt like life, felt like an E Street Band show.” And where “Born in the U.S.A.” took off to become an album and a tour of anthems, “The River” has many moments of tautness.
The show sold out moments after tickets went on sale. If you’re lucky enough to find a ticket on the secondary market, you will most certainly pay more than you would have in 1980.
The average ticket price for that 1980 show was $12.