Christmas came four months early as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played for nearly four hours Tuesday night (Aug. 23) at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Springsteen got into the holiday spirit after taking the request from a sign in the audience for “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, dubbing it “the perfect summer song”.
In all, Springsteen treated the hometown crowd to 35 songs, opening with a gorgeous version of “New York City Serenade” as he kicked off a three-night stand at the stadium, the first dates of the band’s North American stadium tour.
Backed by a string section, the 66-year old rocker set the tone for a special night that paid homage to his home state with a set that included “Sprit in the Night,” “Growin’ Up,” “Wrecking Ball,” “My Hometown,” “Because the Night” (with a scorching guitar solo courtesy of Nils Lofgren) and “Mansion on the Hill,” a song he said was about his days as a child growing up in Freehold getting ice cream at Jersey Freeze, and his mother telling him a radio tower with “red lights” by the ice cream parlor was a “giant.” As he got older, he explained he saw the tower as a mansion on a hill, and proceeded to perform a moving version of the song that brought Patti Scialfa front and center, creating a nice on stage moment.
Springsteen told several tales, including one about his father prior to “Independence Day” and playing bars until 3 a.m., then eating at a diner afterwards. Those late nights, with the thick, humid Jersey air, inspired “Something in the Night.”
There were party songs, too, and “Sherry Darling” provided the perfect backdrop for a summer night, as did “Out in the Street” (bonus points to The Boss for playing the song with his mic in his mouth when he couldn’t get it back into his pocket) and “Darlington County,” with Springsteen adding a lick of The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” for good measure.
After a rousing rave-up of “Shout”– with Springsteen donning a cape in an ode to James Brown — an impromptu band meeting center stage rewarded the audience with “one more song for Jersey” — “Jersey Girl” — as fireworks filled the night.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band return to MetLife Stadium for two more shows Thursday (Aug. 25) and Tuesday (Aug. 30).
Watch video, shot by Michelle Galerkin, below:
1. New York City Serenade (with strings)
2. Wrecking Ball
4. Something In The Night
5. The Ties That Bind
6. Sherry Darling
7. Spirit In The Night
8. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
9. Independence Day
10. Hungry Heart
11. Out In The Street
12. Growing Up
13. You Can Look But You Better Not Touch
14. Death To My Hometown
15. Mansion On The Hill
16. Jack of All Trades (with string section)
17. My Hometown
18. The River
19. American Skin (41 Shots)
20. The Promised Land
21. Working On The Highway
22. Darlington County
23. Because The Night
24. She’s The One
25. Brilliant Disguise
26. The Rising
27. Land Of Hope And Dreams
29. Born To Run
30. Dancing In The Dark
31. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
32. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
34. Bobby Jean
35. Jersey Girl