When Bruce Springsteen Covered the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive’

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Bruce Springsteen, Brisbane, Australia, Feb. 26, 2014

When Bruce Springsteen planned his setlists for the brief Australian leg of his 2014 tour with the E Street Band, the classic rock legend decided to open most of the ten shows with a nod to local acts.

The opening date at Perth Arena on Feb. 8, for instance, featured a cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell.” On Feb. 19, in Sydney, the band played INXS’s “Don’t Change.” The first show at the Hope Estate Winery began with the Easybeats’ “Friday on My Mind.” (The next night, they cleverly performed a cover of Eric Burdon & War’s “Spill the Wine.”)

The final stop, before heading to New Zealand for two shows, was at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. The 30-song set included such concert staples as “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” “Spirit in the Night,” “Badlands” and “The Rising.” For the final song of the first encore, Eddie Vedder joined the band to play “Highway to Hell.”

But the biggest surprise of the night was reserved for the evening’s opening number. Springsteen, alone, begins strumming an acoustic guitar. Ten seconds in, he nods and a trumpet player joins him. Though the music of the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” is recognizable in retrospect, it’s so out of context for a Springsteen concert that the crowd doesn’t react.

At the 38-second mark he sings, “Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk, I’m a woman’s man, no time to talk.” Soon, they’re joined by three vocalists for the first chorus. And at 1:20, Bruce counts down as a string orchestra begins to play.

At 1:30, the house lights come on, and the crowd cheers as he sings, “Well now, I get low and I get high…”

The band’s horn section offers an extended instrumental break, beginning at the 2:10 mark. That’s Clarence Clemons’ nephew, Jake, performing on sax. He’s been filling the Big Man’s shoes, since his passing in 2011.

Watch the performance of “Stayin’ Alive” in Brisbane, Australia, on Feb. 26, 2014

Though the Bee Gees were born and raised on the Isle of Man, in between England and Ireland, they moved with their family to Australia, just north of Brisbane.

After a month-long rest, the tour resumed in North America for another 17 shows, which included an early break when Springsteen inducted his band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (He had been inducted 15 years earlier.)

Here’s a bonus… the band’s performance of “Spill the Wine” three night’s earlier

When Springsteen tours next, tickets will be available here and here.

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