That's the kind of awesome ticket-selling power Bruce Springsteen still wields at 49, as he begins the North American leg of his first tour with the E Street Band in 10 years tonight at East Rutherford, New Jersey's Continental Airlines Arena.
It's the first of 34 United States concerts that Springsteen has sold tickets for so far--an incredible 15 of which are in his native Jersey. All 34 concerts have sold out fast--60,000 tickets for the three Chicago shows went in under an hour.
"People haven't seen the E Street Band in a long time, and Springsteen has the reputation of doing an incredible show," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert industry trade Pollstar, in USA Today.
Helping to fuel Springsteen's demand this summer--a time when the concert market is crowded with everything from Woodstock '99 to Ricky Martin--are rave reviews from the Boss' recent European swing.
Springsteen and his E Streeters--which include the likes of drummer Max Weinberg, guitarist Steve Van Zandt and corpulent saxophonist Clarence Clemons--knocked 'em dead on a leg that began in April in Barcelona, playing their old-style rock-till-they-drop set lists of core-audience-pleasing songs. In other words, don't look for too many Human Touch tunes on this tour.
Ticket prices are also a factor. With an also-old-but-still-very-much-in-demand act like the Rolling Stones charging three-figure ticket prices on their No Security tour--the recently completed American leg was the most profitable U.S. concert series so far this year--the Boss' $37.50-$67.50 gate fee is a relative bargain.
"He could easily charge $100 and still do the same business," Amusement Business' Ray Waddell tells USA Today.
The tour coincides with the 25th anniversary of Springsteen's first album, Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and last year's collection of B-sides and previously unreleased old songs, Tracks,