The Laid Back Fest in New Jersey was anything but mellow Thursday night when Bruce Springsteen jumped onstage to jam with headliners Jacksone Browne and Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey.
Billed as a “traveling all-star celebration of music and food,” the traveling festival — founded in 2015 by Gregg Allman and his longtime manager Michael Lehman — returned this year to honor the late musician, who died in July after a long battle with liver cancer. The concert also featured performances by Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band and Peter Wolf.
Springsteen — who is set to premiere his “Springsteen on Broadway” show at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Oct. 3 — joined longtime E Street Band guitarist Van Zandt for a performance of “It’s Been a Long Time” — a song from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes 1991 album, “Better Days” — as well as the “Born to Run” classic “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.”’ Springsteen started the song a little early but covered like a pro, shouting, “Go ahead, band! Let me hear it one more time. Horns!”
Van Zandt and Springsteen looked to be having fun, as Springsteen deferred to Van Zandt to sing a few lines.
The Boss also joined Browne for a duet on “Take It Easy,” the Eagles’ first hit, which Browne co-wrote with late Eagles cofounder Glenn Frey. Springsteen performed the song as a tribute to Frey on his 2016 “The River” anniversary tour.
“This is for Glenn, and this is for Gregg,” Browne told the crowd. All of the musicians remained onstage for the show’s finale, Wolf’s 1981 hit with the J. Geils Band, “Freeze Frame.” (Video by Mitch Slater below.)
It was the second time in a week that Springsteen, reported to be in rehearsal for the Broadway run, made a surprise appearance on a local stage. Last Friday he joined Paul McCartney at Madison Square Garden for not one but two performances of the Beatles’ classic “I Saw Her Standing There.”
The Laid Back Fest tour continues, with a shifting lineup, Saturday night in Hartford, Conn., with further dates in Wantagh, N.Y., Georgia and Texas.