“The River” flowed the same way twice for Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band fans in Michigan on Thursday night.
On Oct. 3, 1980, when the group’s original tour in support of The River opened in Ann Arbor, Bob Seger joined Springsteen and company for an encore reprise of “Thunder Road.” History repeated — albeit with different songs — on Thursday at the Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit, when Seger again joined Springsteen and the E Streeters for the conclusion of their nearly three-and-a-half-hour concert.
Springsteen had actually journeyed into the crowd during “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” when guitarist Steven Van Zandt waved-up Seger — who lives nearby and was sitting in the front row on the side of the stage with his wife Nita — and handed him a tambourine to help finish the song. Seger stayed onstage for the show-closing rendition of the Isley Brothers‘ “Shout,” finishing the song by leaping in tandem with Springsteen and then joining the band for its final bow.
It was a special moment for Michiganders that followed a more poignant one earlier in the show. After saluting the work of the local Gleaners Community Food Bank, Springsteen warned the Palace crowd that Michigan was considering LGBT-discriminating legislation “similar to the ones that forced us to cancel our show in North Carolina” on April 10 in Greensboro.
“We hope the bill doesn’t pass, ’cause we love playing in Michigan,” Springsteen added. “So keep your heads up.” He and the band that launched into “Born in the USA.”
Springsteen did not make any reference to the the Greensboro cancelation LGBT issues during his previous show on Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Michigan Sen. Tom Casperson has announced he’s planning to introduce a bill similar to North Carolina’s controversial Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act that restricts restroom use to the gender specified on one’s birth certificate. The proposed Casperson bill would permit transgender school students to use staff or single-occupancy unisex bathrooms — but only with the consent of their parents.
Ringo Starr has joined Springsteen in protesting the North Carolina law, canceling his June 18 All-Star Band show in Cary. Gregg Allman and Jimmy Buffett have gone ahead with their scheduled concerts in the state this month but both made statements criticizing the law.