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Steven Van Zandt on E Street Band’s First Show Without Clemons: ‘All We Can Do Is Carry On’

Bruce Springsteen
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

For many viewers, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s performance of ‘We Take Care of Our Own‘ was a Grammy highlight. But for the band members, their first full live gig without longtime sax player Clarence Clemons had decidedly solemn undertones.

“Oh absolutely,” said guitarist Steven Van Zandt when Rolling Stone asked him if the band’s fallen brothers — Clemons, who passed away in June, and keyboardist Danny Federici, who died in April 2008 — were on their minds when they took the stage at the Grammy Awards on Sunday (Feb. 12). “But all you can do is carry on as a tribute to him and Danny.”

Prior to this appearance, the E Street Band hadn’t shared a stage since November of 2009. And although Springsteen didn’t use the full band for his new album ‘Wrecking Ball,’ opting instead for a hybrid lineup of E Street members and studio musicians, he’ll travel with the E Street Band for his 2012 tour — along with a full horn section that includes Clarence’s nephew Jake Clemons on saxophone.

As bittersweet as these performances might be for the band, they’re exciting for the fans — including famous ones like Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons, who gave a simple explanation when asked why he turned out for the awards ceremony: “We just wanted to come see the Boss.”

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