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Bruce Springsteen received a royal welcome to Texas on Thursday night, as George Strait — the beloved “king” of country music — joined him and the E Street Band onstage at Austin’s Moody Center.
One by one the band filed out to their spots onstage, with Springsteen coming at the tail end. Only he wasn’t alone, but accompanied by a familiar, cowboy-hatted silhouette. It took a second for it to dawn on the crowd after the two men slapped hands, with audience members excitedly shouting, “That’s George Strait!”
“Austin, Texas!” Strait, a resident of the San Antonio area, said. “It’s my honor tonight to introduce to you a band that really needs no introduction, right? Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band!”
“Thank you, George. Good evening Austin!” Springsteen responded, then gave a quick count off for a set-opening “No Surrender.” The band’s 27-song set included a cover of the Commodores’ “Nightshift” and “Cadillac Ranch” (named for a tourist attraction in the west Texas town of Amarillo), plus classics from “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” to “Badlands” to “The Rising.” Jake Clemons, the group’s saxophone player, missed the gig due to Covid but Ed Manion filled in for the evening.
Up next for Springsteen is a Feb. 18 show in Kansas City, with stops to follow in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle. Earlier this week, the group announced several new stadium dates for summer that will kick off Aug. 9 in Chicago and run through Dec. 8 in San Francisco.
Strait has his own share of tour dates ahead this summer as well. After formally retiring from the road in 2014, Strait has only played one-off shows and a Las Vegas residency, but this time around, he’ll be playing stadiums with Chris Stapleton for seven dates. Two of those shows are back-to-back nights at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium on July 28 and 29.