See Bruce Springsteen join Zach Bryan Onstage in Brooklyn


Springsteen was a surprise guest at Bryan’s triumphant Barclays Center show, which also included appearances by Maggie Rogers

Zach Bryan has never hidden his deep love for Bruce Springsteen, so there was no reason to think he was sending any hidden message when he used “Johnny 99” as his walk-on music Wednesday night in Brooklyn at Barclays Center, or even when he came onstage in a Springsteen tour t-shirt with the sleeves cut off. But when Bryan started his two-song encore with the chords of his as-yet-unreleased song “Sandpaper,” Springsteen himself strolled onto the stage without warning.

As the stunned crowd cheered, the two men traded lines in the song’s verses and harmonized on the choruses (“they’ve been trying to smooth me out for 27 seasons now”), with Springsteen taking the high parts. From there, Bryan kicked into his usual show-closer, the barnstorming “Revival,” and Springsteen stayed on stage, where he was joined by Maggie Rogers, who popped up to duet with Bryan on “Dawns” earlier in the show.

Bryan usually introduces his band during “Revival,” and he added an extra member Wednesday night: “His name is…. Springsteen!” As Bryan’s band stomped through “Revival,” Springsteen sang along both on and off mic, sometimes sharing one with a clearly ecstatic, tambourine-toting Rogers. Springsteen also played a short but blazing guitar solo, and even joined the other players for a few choreographed moves.

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Springsteen’s appearance was a major show of respect to the younger artist. In the middle of a string of shows with the E Street Band on the West Coast, Springsteen flew back east solely to play with Bryan, learning “Sandpaper” the day of the show, according to a source familiar with the concert logistics. Springsteen then had to return immediately to California to make a San Francisco performance on Thursday evening.

Elsewhere in the show, in between stunningly loud crowd singalongs on his hits, Bryan played more unreleased songs (“The Great American Bar Scene” and “Better Days”) from a new album he said is due later this year.



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