Image via screenshot from CBS.com
Bruce Springsteen was the center of attention last night's 72nd Annual Tony Awards at Radio City Hall in New York. The iconic New Jersey artist performed a stripped-down, mostly spoken-word version of his 1984 Born in the U.S.A. single "My Hometown," providing a rare insight into his acclaimed Broadway show Springsteen on Broadway, before receiving the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.
Robert De Niro introduced Springsteen's performance with a typically warm speech, but the segment will be remembered more for the actor's remarks on Donald Trump. "I’m gonna say one thing," De Niro announced as the crowd welcomed him to the podium. "Fuck Trump." As the tuxedoed guests stood up to give that a standing ovation, he doubled down: "It’s no longer down with Trump. It’s fuck Trump."
Springsteen, in contrast, reduced the room to silence, talking through his upbringing near the Jersey Shore, detailing his family tree, mapping out his neighborhood, saying that he "literally grew up surrounded by God." He brought it to an emotional crescendo, talking about the heart-stopping, pants-dropping, race-rioting[…] soul-shaking, redneck, love-and-fear-making, heartbreaking town of Freehold, New Jersey," before dropping into the first verse of "My Hometown" itself. You can watch the full performance at CBS.Billy Joel presented Springsteen with his Lifetime Achievement Award—it puts him one Academy Award away from an EGOT, in case you're counting—and the whole thing was over in a couple of minutes. "Thank you for making me feel so welcome on your block," Springsteen said. "Being a part of the Broadway community has been a great thrill and an honor for me, and it's been one of the most exciting things that I've ever experienced."Follow Alex Robert Ross on Twitter.