On the Beat

Springsteen cancels Greensboro show over House Bill 2

Bruce Springsteen has canceled his concert scheduled for Sunday night at Greensboro, citing House Bill 2.

There has been talk of concert cancellations in North Carolina over the controversial measure, but this is a big one. Springsteen broke the news Friday with a Facebook post:

Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry – which is happening as I write – is one of them. It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.

House Bill 2, enacted on March 23, outlaws local nondiscrimination ordinances that would let transgender people choose which public bathrooms to use, based on their gender identity. It also bars North Carolinians from filing suit in state courts to challenge other forms of discrimination.

Citing businesses and advocacy groups that are campaigning to overturn the law, Springsteen said he wanted to “show solidarity for those freedom fighters.” He offered “deepest apologies to our dedicated fans in Greensboro.”

Greensboro Coliseum management confirmed the cancellation. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase. The show was nearly sold out, with more than 15,000 tickets sold.

State Sen. Dan Blue Jr. of Raleigh, the Senate Democratic leader, called the cancellation “the latest blow to North Carolina’s economy” in the aftermath of House Bill 2.

“This bill has created a mess,” Blue said in a news release. “Republicans need to admit their mistake on this and do what is right for the sake of this state.”

Fans took the news hard, but most remained philosophical about it.

“As disappointed as I am, this is why we love Bruce Springsteen,” said Steve Eisenstadt of Raleigh, who had tickets to Sunday’s show. “Not just his music, but his incredible political awareness and common sense. It’s hard to accept that I won’t get to see my favorite artist. But it’s Bruce being Bruce.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, praised Springsteen’s decision. In a statement, the group called the singer “a hero and an icon (who) gives voice, both through his music and his advocacy, to those who struggle against injustice and equality.”

But not all the reaction was positive. In a Facebook comment, Raleigh musician Steve Baker asked, “Will Bruce now cancel shows in every city or state that has a law on the books with which he disagrees, or has voted for a Governor or Senator he doesn’t like?”

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

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