As thousands crowded the beach in Asbury Park, N.J., this morning (July 30), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performed for a smaller and luckier crowd inside Convention Hall on the city's bo

As thousands crowded the beach in Asbury Park, N.J., this morning (July 30), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performed for a smaller and luckier crowd inside Convention Hall on the city's boardwalk and an audience of millions via NBC's "Today" show. Along with hosts Matt Lauer and Katie Couric, NBC moved the entire production of its three-hour morning program to the seaside town to let Springsteen showcase his new Columbia album, "The Rising," and the ongoing revitalization of his adopted hometown.

About 20 minutes after his 7 a.m. arrival, Springsteen took to the stage alone to welcome the still gathering audience inside the venue. With only his acoustic guitar, the Boss performed rare solo versions of "Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St." and "For You," both from his 1973 debut album "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J." The tail end of the latter song was broadcast as a teaser for the "Today" viewing audience, as it would be another hour before his promised morning performance.

After laughingly saying he's "never played this early before," Springsteen kicked into the new album's "Waitin' on a Sunny Day." During the song, guitarist Nils Lofgren, vocalist/guitarist/wife Patti Scialfa, bassist Gary Tallent, and saxophonist Clarence Clemons ambled onstage one-by-one and joined in the performance.

At about 8:35, Couric introduced the band for what would be the first of four broadcast songs, the title track of the new album, which hits stores today. After a commercial break that found Springsteen telling the crowd to stick around the town after the show ends and "check out Sonny's Ribs for some chow later today," the group performed the set's opening track, "Lonesome Day," followed by a rambunctious rendition of the "Born in the U.S.A."-era hit "Glory Days."

After another commercial break, Lauer and Couric once again introduced Springsteen and the band, who performed "Into the Fire," also from "The Rising," as the final song. After the band left the stage and the house lights went up inside Convention Hall, the approximately 1,000-strong audience refused to leave, hoping that rumored full rehearsal show for Springsteen's upcoming tour would follow. It didn't, and about 15 minutes later an announcer thanked everyone for coming and invited those inside to join the crowd on the sweltering beach outside, some of whom arrived on the sand last night to ensure their part in today's show.

Along with a previously taped interview of Springsteen by Lauer, Couric spoke to the artist and the members of the E Street Band -- rounded out by drummer Max Weinberg, guitarist Little Steven Van Zandt, and keyboardists Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, as well as guest violinist/vocalist Soozie Tyrell. Sticking with the day's Garden State theme, the "Today" broadcast also featured chats with New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey and actor/Asbury Park native Danny DeVito, as well as features on different aspects of New Jersey beyond Springsteen.

As previously reported, Springsteen and company will begin an extensive world tour in support of "The Rising" Aug. 7 in East Rutherford, N.J.