Bruce Springsteen began and ended his concert at South by Southwest in Austin on Thursday night with a tribute to folk singer Woody Guthrie, starting his set with “I Ain’t Got No Home,” and ending, joined onstage by dozens of musicians, with a joyful “This Land is Your Land.”
Austin music legends Alejandro Escovedo and Joe Ely, along with members of Arcade Fire and the Low Anthem, Garland Jeffreys and Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine joined Springsteen on stage for the finale.
Springsteen was the keynote speaker at SXSW, where he also paid tribute to Guthrie. “In Guthrie’s work, he found a way forward: ‘fatalism tempered by a practical idealism,’ and a conviction that ‘speaking truth to power wasn’t futile,’ ” reported Tris McCall of the Star-Ledger.
Chris Richards reviewed Springsteen’s newest record, “Wrecking Ball,” and was disappointed by his attempt to address politics:
“Is anyone buying this?” Richards wrote. “Yes, the sentiment is righteous, but Springsteen doesn’t sound angry. He sounds angry on our behalf. And that’s the unfortunate niche he’s carved out for himself here — a place where his dutiful rage is matched by dutifully anthemic songs.”