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Ghost of Tom Joad Tour

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Ghost of Tom Joad Tour
Tour by Bruce Springsteen
Associated albumThe Ghost of Tom Joad
Start dateNovember 21, 1995
End dateMay 26, 1997
No. of shows128
Bruce Springsteen concert chronology
  • Bruce Springsteen 1992–1993 World Tour
  • Ghost of Tom Joad Tour
  • Reunion Tour

Listen to this concert Ghost of Tom Joad Tour or buy cd/DVDs of this concert on amazon

The Ghost of Tom Joad Tour was a worldwide concert tour featuring Bruce Springsteen performing alone on stage in small halls and theatres, that ran off and on from late 1995 through the middle of 1997.[1] It followed the release of his 1995 album The Ghost of Tom Joad.[2]

The tour represented Springsteen's first full-length, solo tour;[3] he traveled with only an instrument technician and a sound engineer.[4] As such it was a marked departure from the high-energy shows with the E Street Band that Springsteen had become famous for.[5] The album itself was quiet, dark and angry, and Springsteen presented it as such in the shows on the tour.[3] Older songs from Springsteen's catalog, such as "Born in the U.S.A.", were presented in very different, often harsh re-arrangements.[2][6]

The result, especially in the tour's first leg of shows, was an uncompromising portrayal of pessimism;[7] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said that with the tour's performances, Springsteen "has taken his music to an extreme, a depressive's view of tedious, unending woe."[6] Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote that "In contrast to past tours, which have been celebratory events tinged by introspection, Springsteen brought a sobering sense of solitude" to the shows of this tour.[2] By some of the later shows of the tour, however, Springsteen relaxed the mood a bit by interweaving a few new songs with an almost comedic bent.[7]


The tour began on November 21, 1995, at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The first group of shows ran through the end of the year in major media centers such as Los Angeles, the San Francisco area, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston.

After a winter holiday break, the show visited other North American cities in January 1996, including a stop in Youngstown, Ohio due to "Youngstown" being the album track most (relatively) played on radio.

February and March saw shows in Western Europe, followed by a three-week break during which Springsteen attended the Academy Awards show in Los Angeles. The tour resumed in Europe through early May.

A family man with three small children at the time, Springsteen took off the summer of 1996 and then started again in the U.S. in mid-September, playing smaller markets and colleges, as well as local stops in Asbury Park and his old St. Rose of Lima School in Freehold, and finishing in mid-December.

Another winter holiday break was taken, then in late January 1997 Springsteen took the show to Japan and Australia for three weeks. In May the final leg started up; first Springsteen went to Stockholm to accept the Polar Music Prize, then he toured Central Europe, seeing Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic, before concluding with additional shows back in Western Europe. The 128th and final show of the tour was on May 26, 1997, at the Palais des Congrès in Paris and was attended by hundreds of fans from around the world.


While the Ghost of Tom Joad album was in the more acoustic, somber vein of his earlier Nebraska, it did contain some limited additional instrumentation and arrangements. However, Springsteen decided to perform the new material completely by himself, using only acoustic guitar and harmonica. (A couple of the dourest Joad numbers did have a hidden offstage synthesizer being played, by Springsteen's guitar technician Kevin Buell.)[citation needed]

Given that Springsteen was famous for his full-band, high-energy, crowd-rousing concerts, this tour was sure to be a surprising departure. Advertisements tried to make this clear, and all show tickets were printed with Solo Acoustic Tour on them[8] to give audiences a firm understanding of what to expect (and leading some[who?] to call the tour by that name, although it would become ambiguous in light of the later Devils & Dust Tour; Springsteen's publicists did not give this tour any formal name).

After an opening rendition of "The Ghost of Tom Joad", which featured audience members whooping and "Brooocing" by habit, Springsteen regularly addressed this audience with some variation of this speech:

"This is where I get to set the ground rules a little bit ... a lot of these songs tonight were composed using a lot of silence, silence is a part of the music, so I really need your collaboration tonight in giving me that silence so I can do my best for you ... if you feel like clapping or singing along, you'll be an embarrassment to your friends and family ... if someone sitting next to you is talking, politely ask them to shut the fuck up ... Don't make me come down there and smack you around, it'll mess with my man-of-the-people image."[citation needed]

Sometimes Springsteen felt the need to reiterate parts of the message after subsequent songs, especially if Brooocing continued. The whole bit created quite an impression among Springsteen fans, some of whom would always refer to this as the Shut the Fuck Up Tour as a result, and others of whom[who?] would wish the same rules were in effect for slower songs at future Springsteen E Street Band concerts.[citation needed]

The performance style of the tour varied greatly depending upon song. Some older numbers such as "Darkness on the Edge of Town" and the recently exhumed "Murder Incorporated" were vigorously strummed on guitar and bellowed in voice. Slide work also sometimes lent musical dynamism. But most selections, including almost all of the Joad material, were indeed arranged with silence as the leading accompaniment. Even normal fan favorite "Born in the U.S.A." was recast into a snarling attack mostly bereft of its anthemic title line. "The Promised Land" was transformed into a ghostly echo of its usually rousing self, propelled by percussive slapping of Springsteen's Takamine guitar body.[citation needed]

The typical all-Joad six-song closing sequence of the main set – "Youngstown", "Sinaloa Cowboys", "The Line", "Balboa Park", "The New Timer", and "Across the Border" – was especially stark and quiet. Based on the fates of lost American workers and Mexican immigrants in California, it suffered from some of same lack of melodic interest and forced didactic purpose that the album had been criticized for.[citation needed]

As the tour wore on, shows became a little looser. Springsteen introduced some humorous songs he had recently written, including "In Freehold", a ribald homage to his growing up, "In Michigan", a homage about the folks in Michigan, "Sell It and They Will Come", a tribute to the insanity of late-night infomercials, and "Pilgrim in the Temple of Love", a tale of Santa Claus doing something naughty. Indeed, explicit sexual mentions became something of a theme of the tour, with Springsteen telling any children in the audience that words they didn't understand were Latin for "doing your homework", or "cleaning your room". Springsteen also engaged the faithful by unearthing some old numbers that had not seen concert action in a long time, or in the case of Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.'s "The Angel", ever; Springsteen once swore he would never perform the song live (it wasn't performed again until 2009 during full performances of the album). The tour also marked the first time that Springsteen did not perform anything from the Born to Run. Nothing from the album was sound-checked although on the third to final date of the tour, Springsteen treated fans in Italy to a post-show singalong performance of "Thunder Road" from the venue's balcony. Two songs written for the Joad album that did not make the final cut, "The Hitter" and "Long Time Comin'", made their tour debuts although Springsteen would not release the two songs for another ten years until the 2005 Devils & Dust album.[citation needed]

Critical and commercial reaction[edit]

Due to the small venues played on the tour, often in the 2,000–3,000 capacity range, tickets were often hard to get, creating a "ticket scalpers' heaven".[9] Dave Marsh's Two Hearts biography assessed the tour as not expanding Springsteen's audience any, but helping to solidify it, especially in Europe.

The Asbury Park Press characterized a November 1995 Count Basie Theatre show as Springsteen "spinning his acoustic tales of desperation and hope ... he played with power and poise ... The lyrics are bleaker than usual for Springsteen and the music reflects the solemn mood." The New York Times said a December 1995 Beacon Theatre show "easily qualifies as the most earnest concert of the year", that "Where [Springsteen] once saw open highways, he now sees roads to nowhere", and that "Springsteen turned in a painstaking and convincing performance. But with that material, he has turned himself into nearly a one-note performer."[6] The Washington Post, on the other hand, found a December 1995 DAR Constitution Hall performance showing strains of the "sense of triumph" that Springsteen's previous work had evoked, although his physical appearance made him "look more like the custodian at Constitution Hall than the star attraction."[10][dead link]

The collection Hard Travelin': The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie, edited by Robert Santelli and Emily Davidson, found praise for the tour, saying the album's songs gained onstage and that the shows, "although hushed and void of the anthemic rockers that made him the greatest performer that rock has ever known, managed to bring Woody Guthrie back to life again."[5] Jimmy Gutterman's Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen criticized the first leg of the tour for producing "the most dour performances of his career".[3] However Guterman praised later legs that incorporated new material that was "sly, low-key, and funny."[7]

Broadcasts and recordings[edit]

Portions of the December 8 and December 9, 1995, shows from Philadelphia's Tower Theater were later broadcast on the syndicated Columbia Records Radio Hour on U.S. album-oriented rock stations.

Several shows were released as part of the Bruce Springsteen Archives:

  • Kings Hall, Belfast March 19, 1996, released September 1, 2017
  • Freehold, NJ 1996 Saint Rose of Lima School Gym, released May 4, 2018
  • Asbury Park 11/24/96, released November 1, 2019

Tour dates[edit]

Date City Country Venue
North America
November 22, 1995 Red Bank United States Count Basie Theatre
November 26, 1995 Los Angeles Wiltern Theatre
November 27, 1995
November 29, 1995 Berkeley Berkeley Community Theatre
November 30, 1995
December 3, 1995 Rosemont Rosemont Theatre
December 5, 1995 Washington, D.C. DAR Constitution Hall
December 6, 1995
December 8, 1995 Upper Darby Tower Theatre
December 9, 1995
December 12, 1995 New York City Beacon Theatre
December 13, 1995
December 15, 1995 Boston Orpheum Theatre
December 16, 1995
December 17, 1995 New York City Beacon Theatre
January 7, 1996 Montreal Canada Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier
January 8, 1996 Toronto Massey Hall
January 10, 1996 Detroit United States Fox Theatre
January 11, 1996
January 12, 1996 Youngstown Stambaugh Auditorium
January 16, 1996 Cleveland Cleveland Music Hall
January 17, 1996
January 18, 1996 St. Louis Fox Theatre
January 22, 1996 New Orleans Saenger Theatre
January 23, 1996 Houston Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Performing Arts
January 25, 1996 Austin Austin Music Hall
January 26, 1996 Dallas Bronco Bowl
January 28, 1996 Atlanta Fox Theatre
February 12, 1996 Frankfurt Germany Alte Oper
February 14, 1996 Dresden Kulturpalast
February 15, 1996 Munich Rudi-Sedlmayer-Halle
February 17, 1996 Hamburg Congress Centrum Hamburg Halle 1
February 18, 1996 Düsseldorf Philipshalle
February 21, 1996 Paris France Le Zénith
February 22, 1996
February 25, 1996 Rotterdam The Netherlands De Doelen
February 26, 1996 Amsterdam Koninklijk Theater Carré
February 28, 1996 Manchester England Manchester Apollo
February 29, 1996 Birmingham Symphony Hall
March 2, 1996 Newcastle Newcastle City Hall
March 3, 1996 Edinburgh Scotland Edinburgh Playhouse
March 13, 1996 Stockholm Sweden Cirkus
March 14, 1996 Oslo Norway Oslo Spektrum
March 16, 1996 Copenhagen Denmark Falkoner Salen
March 19, 1996 Belfast Northern Ireland King's Hall
March 20, 1996 Dublin Ireland Point Theatre
April 10, 1996 Rome Italy Auditorium Santa Cecilia
April 11, 1996 Milan Teatro Smeraldo
April 13, 1996 Genoa Teatro Carlo Felice
April 16, 1996 London England Royal Albert Hall
April 17, 1996
April 19, 1996 Berlin Germany ICC Berlin Halle 1
April 20, 1996 Antwerp Belgium Koningin Elisabethzaal
April 22, 1996 London England Royal Albert Hall
April 24, 1996 Brixton Academy
April 25, 1996
April 27, 1996 Royal Albert Hall
April 30, 1996 Strasbourg France Salle Erasme
May 1, 1996 Brussels Belgium Palais des Beaux-Arts
May 2, 1996 Zürich Switzerland Kongresshaus Zürich
May 6, 1996 Barcelona Spain Teatro Tivoli
May 7, 1996
May 8, 1996 Madrid Palacio de Congresos Y Exposiciones
North America
September 16, 1996 Pittsburgh United States Benedum Center
September 18, 1996 Wallingford Oakdale Theatre
September 19, 1996 Providence Providence Performing Arts Center
September 24, 1996 Kalamazoo James W. Miller Auditorium
September 25, 1996 Akron E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall
September 26, 1996 Ann Arbor Hill Auditorium
October 1, 1996 Normal Braden Auditorium
October 2, 1996 Milwaukee Riverside Theater
October 3, 1996 Minneapolis Northrop Auditorium
October 15, 1996 Salt Lake City Abravanel Hall
October 16, 1996 Denver Paramount Theatre
October 17, 1996
October 19, 1996 Albuquerque Kiva Auditorium
October 21, 1996 Tempe Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium
October 22, 1996 San Diego Civic Theatre
October 23, 1996 Fresno William Saroyan Theatre
October 25, 1996 Santa Barbara Arlington Theatre
October 26, 1996 San Jose Event Center Arena
October 28, 1996 Portland Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
October 29, 1996 Seattle Paramount Theatre
November 8, 1996 Freehold Saint Rose of Lima School
November 12, 1996 Buffalo Shea's Performing Arts Center
November 13, 1996 Syracuse Landmark Theatre
November 14, 1996 Lowell Lowell Memorial Auditorium
November 19, 1996 Memphis Ellis Auditorium
November 20, 1996 Louisville The Louisville Palace
November 21, 1996 Indianapolis Murat Theatre
November 24, 1996 Asbury Park Paramount Theatre
November 25, 1996
November 26, 1996
December 2, 1996 Sunrise Sunrise Musical Theater
December 3, 1996
December 5, 1996 Columbia Township Auditorium
December 6, 1996 Birmingham Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center Concert Hall
December 10, 1996 Cincinnati Music Hall
December 11, 1996 Columbus Veterans Memorial Auditorium
December 12, 1996 Nashville Ryman Auditorium
December 14, 1996 Charlotte Ovens Auditorium
January 27, 1997 Tokyo Japan Kokusai Forum Hall
January 29, 1997
January 30, 1997
January 31, 1997
February 4, 1997 Brisbane Australia QPAC Concert Hall
February 5, 1997
February 7, 1997 Sydney Capitol Theatre
February 8, 1997
February 10, 1997
February 11, 1997
February 12, 1997
February 15, 1997 Melbourne Palais Theatre
February 16, 1997
February 17, 1997
May 6, 1997 Vienna Austria Austria Center Vienna
May 7, 1997
May 9, 1997 Warsaw Poland Sala Kongresowa
May 10, 1997
May 12, 1997 Prague Czech Republic Congress Center
May 15, 1997 Lyon France Auditorium Maurice Ravel
May 16, 1997 Montpellier Berlioz Opera House
May 18, 1997 Nice Acropolis
May 19, 1997 Toulon Zénith Omega
May 21, 1997 Florence Italy Teatro Verdi
May 22, 1997 Naples Teatro Augusteo
May 25, 1997 Paris France Palais des congres de Paris
May 26, 1997

Songs performed[edit]

Cover songs
Soundchecked/on setlist but not performed

Source:[11][12] [13][14][15]


  • Guterman, Jimmy. Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen. Cambridge: DeCapo Press, 2005.
  • Marsh, Dave. Bruce Springsteen on Tour: 1968–2005. Bloomsbury USA, 2006. ISBN 1-59691-282-0 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png..
  • Santelli, Robert, "Beyond Folk: Woody Guthrie's Impact on Rock and Roll", in Robert Santelli and Emily Davidson, eds. Hard Travelin': The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1999.
  • Santelli, Robert. Greetings From E Street: The Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8118-5348-9 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.
  • Killing Floor's concert database supplies the itinerary and set lists for the shows, but does not support direct linking to individual dates.
  • Brucebase the same, with ticket and promotional images as well.


  1. Santelli, Greetings From E Street, pp. 83–84.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kot, Greg (December 5, 1995). "Boss' new sound hauntingly familiar". Chicago Tribune. p. 12 (Section 2) – via Newspapers.com.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Guterman, Runaway American Dream, pp. 86–87.
  4. Santelli, Greetings From E Street, p. 83.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Santelli, "Beyond Folk: Woody Guthrie's Impact on Rock and Roll", p. 54.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Pareles, Jon (December 14, 1995). "Pop Review: Hard Times and No Silver Lining". The New York Times. p. C11.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Guterman, Runaway American Dream, p. 87.
  8. http://www.brucebase.org.uk/gig1996.htm#1
  9. "IN BRIEF – Springsteen Concerts Test New Ticket Scalping Law – NYTimes.com". 26 November 1995. Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  10. "Springsteen, An Austere Power". Retrieved April 17, 2016.
  11. "RockinConcerts.com – For all your favorite artists shows on DVDs, CDs and MP3s". Archived from the original on January 24, 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  12. "Brucebase – home". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  13. "Backstreets.com: 2014–2015 Setlists (Apr-Nov)". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  14. "Bruce Springsteen Setlists – Greasy Lake". Archived from the original on October 26, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  15. The Official Bruce Springsteen Website. "The Official Bruce Springsteen Website". Retrieved 12 June 2015.

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