Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band kicked off an all new US tour in Pittsburgh on Saturday night. The tour comes in celebration of The River’s 35th anniversary and thus, each date promises a full performance of the album. However, during last night’s tour kick-off, a tribute to David Bowie superseded all else.
To begin the encore, Springsteen and the E Street Band performed a rollicking cover of Bowie’s Diamond Dogs classic “Rebel Rebel”. “We’re gonna take a moment and note the passing of our good friend David Bowie,” Springsteen said prior to the performance. “Not enough people know it but he recorded our music way, way, way back in the very beginning, 1973. He rang me up and I visited him down in Philly while he was making the Young Americans record. He covered some of my music, ‘It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City,’ ‘Growin’ Up,’ and he was a big supporter of ours. I took the Greyhound bus down to Philadelphia, that’s how early on it was. Anyway, we’re thinking of him.”
As Bowie recounted in a 1986 interview, he first encountered Springsteen 13 years earlier, in 1973. Bowie went to see a singer named Biff Rose perform at the New York City club Max’s Kansas City. Springsteen served as the opening act. “I think it was probably the best rock band I’d ever seen in my life,” Bowie remembered.
As Springsteen mentioned, Bowie later covered several of his tracks. His rendition of “Growin’ Up” appeared on a 1990 reissue of Pin-Ups, and his take on “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” later surfaced on the Sound + Vision box set.