Bruce Springsteen opened up his Brooklyn concert Saturday night by paying tribute to Prince with a powerful cover of the late icon’s classic “Purple Rain.” Springsteen poignantly sang the 1984 single, while Nils Lofgren delivered a searing stab at the song’s distinct guitar solo as the crowd chanted along with the track’s coda.
With the Barclays Center awash in purple light, the E Street Band chose to honor Prince out of the gate instead of beginning their show not with the usual The River Tour opener “Meet Me in the City.” “Prince forever! God bless,” Springsteen said as the song came to a close.
Although never collaborators, Prince and Springsteen have longed been connected, as both artists hit their commercial peaks in the Eighties; Prince’s Purple Rain and Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A. arrived within weeks of each other in the summer of 1984.
Sadly, the “Purple Rain” performance marked the third time the E Street Band honored a rock giant who died in 2016 with an onstage tribute, following their covers of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and Glenn Frey’s signature Eagles cut “Take It Easy.”
Following the performance, the Springsteen fan site Backstreets Magazine posted a photo of Steven Van Zandt, guitar in hand, backstage watching Purple Rain on a laptop for a last-minute lesson.
— Backstreets Magazine (@backstreetsmag) April 24, 2016
Springsteen and the E Street Band return to Barclays Center Sunday night.