The Boss and his E Street Band return to Tulsa for the first time since 2009.
Bruce Springsteen made his return to Oklahoma for a Mardi Gras concert at the BOK Center. He and his E Street Band returned to Tulsa for the first time since 2009. The Boss, now 73 years old and in his fifth decade as a touring musician, is known far and wide for his energetic shows sometimes lasting nearly three hours in length.
There’s something special about a Bruce Springsteen concert and the way it brings people together from different walks of life for vastly different reasons. We talked to a few people standing outside the venue before the concert, asking them about their love of the Boss.
Decked in a tour shirt from the 2023 tour and a cowboy hat, a man with strikingly white hair told us that this was the fourth time he was seeing Springsteen live. The most recent time was in Dallas — where he’s from — the previous week. His biggest takeaway from Springsteen’s live shows is his strength and stamina. “[Springsteen] only takes about three seconds to switch songs. I had floor seats last week in Dallas, and I spent the whole time standing!” he said with a laugh “I wish I had his energy.”
A girl around the age of five stood by her grandfather and grandmother, wearing a massive t-shirt with Springsteen’s face on it. She excitedly said that this was her first concert, and that she had been listening to him since she was three, putting three fingers in the air. Her grandparents, long-time fans, were excited to share this core experience with their granddaughter.
Other encounters weren’t so nice. A religious group protested the show due to Springsteen’s support of the “abortion holocaust happening in America right now.” Springsteen has always been vocal about his political beliefs even when it wasn’t acceptable to do so, calling for gay marriage in 1996. He even canceled a show in Greensboro, North Carolina when their government announced that the “bathroom law,” or the law that dictates which bathroom transgender people could use, would go into place.
A group who had just come out of the Arena Pub and Grill across the street from the venue happened to pass by the man with the megaphone as he was shouting, “If it’s your body, your choice, then why is it that the baby dies?” The group of five openly laughed at the man, not letting him ruin their night.
A woman wearing a tour shirt from the 80’s also made the trip to Tulsa to see him after the Dallas show. She saw him for the first time during the original “Born in the USA” tour in 1984. “I camped out for two nights just to get tickets. I slept on the streets,” she said with a laugh, “that was before everything went online, of course.”
Lastly, we spoke to a woman, also wearing a shirt from the 1984 tour, who had come all the way from Richmond, Virginia for the show. This marked her thirtieth time seeing Springsteen live. “Back when I was your age, I dropped out of college to follow him around on tour,” she said. She also excitedly recounted her story of visiting the Bob Dylan Center the previous day, having the good fortune of meeting one of the E Street Members at the museum.
When asked about why she had seen Springsteen live so many times, her friend answered for her, saying that it’s a “serious love” that leads people to do this, and that her friend was probably the biggest Springsteen fan here.
Finally, it was time for the Boss to take the stage. The audience grew increasingly louder as each member of the E Street Band took the stage, growing to thunder when Springsteen took the stage. He started the concert with “No Surrender,” which symbolizes what this tour is at its heart. He’s blatantly saying, “I’m still here.” It’s triumphant.
Springsteen played quite a few songs from his newest record, “Only the Strong Survive,” though he made sure to play some of his classics for the die-hard old-school fans. Strangely, he left “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Glory Days” off the setlist for the night. By the end of the concert, Springsteen and his band had played for nearly three hours, totaling to 27 songs in total.
Here’s to another decade as a live musician, because as far as this reviewer is concerned, the Boss still has it.