The Freehold, NJ native also played along with fellow musicians Willie Nile, Joe D'Urso and The Alarm'sMike Peters on the song, “One Guitar,” before closing out the show with Pittsburgh’s Joe Gruschecky and the Houserockers for an enjoyable set that included the live premiere of “Frankie Fell in Love,” off his just-released album, High Hopes.
Springsteen was especially playful when introducing the track, encouraging the audience to participate in a shout-along of the song’s lyrics, “One and one make what?” The audience returned the answer, “Three!” The musician, fresh from his appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, was in great spirits, playing with joyful abandon and taking the time to thank all of the musicians that participated in the week-long event.
Fans worshipping at the altar of Springsteen the guitar God, were not disappointed thanks to an especially urgent and fierce “Because the Night.” The Boss also worked every ounce of the stage as he whipped out his harmonica for “The Promised Land.” Original Juke Eddie Manion (and a member of the extended E Street Band) stepped up with especially strong moments on the saxophone, particularly on songs like “The Promised Land” that featured solos of the late Clarence Clemons.
Springsteen was the big “surprise” on a bill that capped off a week long festival of events for the foundation. Saturday’s main event included an intimate set by Johnny Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls, who performed stripped down versions of "Iris," Slide," "Name," and "Black Balloon." Rzeznik weaved personal stories into his set, telling the crowd that his song, “Broadway” was his own “attempt at a Springsteen song.”
Other highlights of the evening included Alarm frontman Peters, who entertained with solo selections of his band's hits, “68 Guns,” and “Strength," while Neptune, New Jersey nativeNicole Atkins previewed her forthcoming release, Slow Phaser. Original E Street Band drummer Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez played tambourine for a tune with Joe D'Urso andStone Caravan, while Garland Jeffries set the mood with a cover of "No Woman, No Cry" by Bob Marley. Bon Jovi keyboardist Dave Bryan sat in with the cast for a full-blown rendition of “Light of Day,” which segued into a reverential “Happy Birthday” nod to the event's founder Bob Benjamin.
The Light of Day benefits began in 1998 as a 40th birthday party for Benjamin, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. On Saturday, Springsteen lead the audience and the cast in a moving acoustic version of “Thunder Road” for his longtime friend, who said he was “at a loss for words.”
Afterwards, Springsteen held court at The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park until 4 a.m., enjoying cake with Benjamin, Malin, Joe Gruschecky, Bryan and Light of Day executive board members. “This was a great night for rock and roll,” said Gruschecky as he walked into the Asbury night. “It was a great night for the Jersey Shore.”
- This article originally appeared in THR.com.