You don’t often get to see Bruce Springsteen playing piano in his live shows. Why would he need to when for over forty years, he’s got Roy Bittan in his legendary E Street Band. Nicknamed “The Professor”, Roy has not only mastered the piano, his talent with the accordion, organ, and the synthesizer has peppered so many of Springsteen’s classics. Roy has earned his rightful spot in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Clarence Clemons, the late Gary Talent, and the Mighty Max Weinberg. But every so often, Bruce goes off on his solo ways and has performed some of his most emotional and touching versions of his classic hits acoustically. Being predominantly a guitar player with a harmonica, when Bruce goes “unplugged”, it’s usually him alone in the spotlight performing a song like “The River”. But here are two rare performances of The Boss behind the piano bringing new meaning to the lyrics.
First up, a live version of “You’re Missing” recorded during rehearsal for his Saturday Night Live performance. The haunting and desperate lyrics take on a new dimension here compared to the more energetic 2002 version on “The Rising”. Watch for the Seth Meyers cameo.
I was lucky to attend Bruce’s 2005 Devils and Dust Tour. For the intimate solo tour, Bruce wouldn’t allow audience members to enter during the set. It truly captured an intimate and vulnerable side of Springsteen unique to his other tours. Here’s Bruce tackling “Fade Away” from The River on the electric keyboards.