NBC Photo/Heidi GutmanAs Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band make their way across Australia this month, their doing so minus one very important member -- guitarist Steven Van Zandt. The Boss' longtime compadre and onstage foil is sitting the tour out so he can focus on filming the upcoming season of his popular Netflix TV series Lillyhammer, which is shot and takes place in Norway.
Van Zandt tells ABC News Radio that prior to the Australian tour, which runs through March 31, he had a 100-percent attendance record as a member of the E Street Band.
"It's a little uncomfortable because I've never missed a show as long as I been in the band," he admits. "So…you feel a little bit guilty about that."
One consolation for Van Zandt is that Bruce has hired a very capable musician as his temporary replacement for the trek -- Rage Against the Machine guitar whiz Tom Morello.
"I'm very happy they got Tom Morello, 'cause it helps a great deal to know that Bruce is not there up front on his own," maintains Little Steven. "I think Tommy, to some extent, will fulfill that function of interacting with the audience a bit, and interacting with Bruce a little bit."
Van Zandt will rejoin Springsteen and company when they launch their next tour leg, a series of European dates that gets under way April 29 in Oslo, Norway. Little Steven says it's no coincidence that the trek kicks off in the same country where he shoots his TV show.
"We will be in Scandinavia for the first week or two [of the tour] and I could very well be filming on days off still to finish up, because we are behind," he admits. "So, I think that was very prescient of [our tour manager], him knowing my life is always a little bit behind."
Besides starring in Lillyhammer, which happens to be the most popular television series in Norway, Van Zandt is involved in yet another big project, the combination stage production and concert featuring a full reunion of 1960s pop-rock legends The Rascals. The show, titled The Rascals: Once upon a Dream, debuted in December with a six-date stint in Port Chester, New York and now is being prepared for its Broadway premiere. The show opens April 15 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre and is booked for 15 performances through May 5.
Van Zandt wrote, co-produced and is co-directing the production, which features The Rascals playing dozens of their classic songs, along with a multimedia presentation that includes filmed theatrical performances, archival footage, photographs, narration and more. Steven says that, so far, tickets are selling at a brisk pace.
"We just passed the million-dollar mark so, the first 15 shows are half sold-out, which is really way ahead of schedule," he tells ABC News Radio. "And that's nice, you know? That's always a good thing."
Asked to name some of his favorite aspects of the show, Van Zandt notes, "I think people [are] finding it funnier than they expected. I think they're finding it more dramatic than they expected. And then…for the older fans who actually remember The Rascals or maybe even saw them, [there's] the shock of not being disappointed by them, 40 years later."
Steven also says he's hopeful that the concept behind the production could be used to showcase other veteran artists.
"I think we've created a whole new form of performance, he declares. "I'm anxious to see what people think of it [and am] interested to see if it catches on and other groups wanna use this thing…which I think works very well, especially for the older groups."
Tickets for The Rascals: Once upon a Dream are available at Ticketmaster.com and at the Richard Rodgers Theatre box office.
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