FEATURE: Nils Lofgren on what Sunderland can expect from Bruce Springsteen

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Musical maestro Nils Lofgren speaks to Katy Wheeler about what Wearside can expect from Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band when they arrive at the Stadium of Light this summer.

PEOPLE can expect as great a rock ‘n’ roll show as they have ever seen,” says Nils Lofgren of Bruce Springsteen’s debut performance at the home of the Black Cats next month.

The Boss is bringing with him his long-time collaborators, the E Street Band, for this blockbuster gig on Thursday, June 21.

They’ll be helping to power some of the rock legend’s biggest hits including Born in the USA and Glory Days as well as tracks from his latest release, Wrecking Ball.

Nils is a dedicated member of the era-defining band. The Chicago-born musician joined as guitarist in 1984 and has never looked back since.

Speaking about appearing on stage in Sunderland, he said: “It’s my 61st birthday and I always love working on my birthday. I’ve been unemployed enough times so I’m just thrilled to have a great job.

“I’ve been playing since 1973 all over England so I’ve played all over the country more than half a dozen times.

“I love playing there, I was surprised and shocked at the beautiful reception I got there in the early 70s and I try and come back every year to play a few shows.”

He added: “We have the biggest tool box in rock ‘n’ roll history when we play as E Street and Bruce is a master in his prime at using all these tools. Together we mix hundreds of years worth of experience in the music industry.

“Playing stadiums is beautiful. I’m still a fan of music as much as I ever was. To go to a show and not only be not disappointed, but be surprised and inspired is a beautiful experience.

“I went to see Sting in Phoenix recently and it showed the magic of music, to sit there and be inspired at the brilliance of the show. Bruce is like that when he appears on stage too.”

But Bruce is not the only superstar to have called upon Nils’ talents over the years.

He has also worked with legends including Neil Young and Ringo Starr while also making solo record releases

“It’s fabulous to be able to go back and forth between releasing solo material and performing with E Street,” he said. “When I was 18 I worked on After The Gold Rush with Neil Young. I learnt from a young age that I love being the band leader, but it’s fun not being the boss everyday. It’s exciting to be in a great band and not be leader.”

Nils’ latest solo release is Old School, his first full studio album in five years. It features many collaborations including former Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm.

Nils said: “It’s great to get a record out that I’m proud of. And it’s a great cleaning house for me emotionally.

“Old School is as good a solo record as I’ve ever made. There’s a lot of guitar on there and a wide cross section of songs. I feel really great about it and I’ve had some great friends do guest vocals.”

The tight-knit E Street band were rocked to their core last year when sax player Clarence “Big Man” Clemons, 69, died following a stroke. Nils said: “It’s painful not to have Clarence, it’s an awful loss. He was a deep friend off stage too. There’s a song on my latest record about Ray Charles and about loss in general. About focusing on the people left to stop yourself from going under.

“Music for me has always had that magical healing power. It gives us an escape into a deeper reality that we’re all searching for.”

Twitter: @sunechokaty