One of the most hotly anticipated tours of 2012 was made official when Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band announced the first dates for his United States tour in support of his upcoming album, Wrecking Ball, which will be released on Columbia Records on March 6. “We Take Care Of Our Own,” the first single, was released last week. The tour is Springsteen’s first since the Working On A Dream tour concluded in November 2009. Tickets for most dates will go on either January 27 or January 28 (see below).

The first leg will consist of 19 dates, beginning March 18 at Atlanta’s Philips Arena, three days after Springsteen delivers the keynote at the annual South By Southwest Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. The tour will focus mainly on the Northeast, with nearly half of the shows taking place in the Boston-Washington, D.C. corridor that has served as Springsteen’s base throughout his career. This includes two dates in Philadelphia and five New York-area shows split between Madison Square Garden, the Izod Center, and Newark’s Prudential Center, which will see the final U.S. date on May 2. The band will also play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on April 29.

Dates for the summer’s European leg of the tour were announced last November. Don’t be upset if your town isn’t scheduled. Following Europe, it is expected that Springsteen will hit the rest of the country, including a possible show at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in September. If his recent tours are any indication, the second American go-round is usually when he throws out most of the newer songs in favor of older and more obscure songs. Trust me on this. I have a spreadsheet.

As of now, it does not appear that the current version of the E Street Band will feature a replacement for saxophonist Clarence Clemons, who passed away last year. It had been rumored that another sax player, or even a full horn section, would join the tour, but the press release lists only longtime Springsteen sidemen Soozie Tyrell (violin, guitar, vocals) and Charlie Giordano (keyboards).

Here are the tour dates and venues, with the dates the tickets go on sale in parentheses:

March 18: Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena (Feb 4)
March 19: Greensboro, NC – Greensboro Coliseum (Feb 3)
March 23: Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Forum (Jan 28)
March 26: Boston, MA – TD Garden (Jan 28)
March 28: Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center (Jan 28)
March 29: Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center (Jan 28)
April 1: Washington, DC – Verizon Center (Jan 28)
April 3: East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center (Jan 27)
April 4: East Rutherford, NJ – Izod Center (Jan 27)
April 6: New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (Jan 27)
April 9: New York, NY – Madison Square Garden (Jan 27)
April 12: Detroit, MI – The Palace of Auburn Hills (Jan 28)
April 13: Buffalo, NY – First Niagara Center (Jan 28)
April 16: Albany, NY – Times Union Center (Jan 28)
April 17: Cleveland, OH – Quicken Loans Arena (Jan 28)
April 24: San Jose, CA – HP Pavilion (Feb 3)
April 26: Los Angeles, CA – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Feb 3)
April 29: New Orleans, LA – New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (now)
May 2: Newark, NJ – Prudential Center (Jan 27)