Bruce Springsteen played all “Night” and until the “Light of Day” and then some.
The New Jersey rock legend and his E Street Band—currently on the road with The River Tour 2016—finished an epic 3.5 hour show at Madison Square Garden on Monday night which saw Bruce dance onstage with his 90-year-old mother. Most 66-year-olds would call it night and hit the sack but as we’ve come to expect, Bruce still had some gas in the tank.
The indefatigable rocker and his band sped down the Jersey Turnpike to play a surprise show in his old stomping grounds of Asbury Park.
The show started at 1:00 a.m. in a packed house at The Stone Pony. It ended 27 hours later, demolishing his prior record, a four-hour-and-six minute, 33-song marathon show held in Helsinki Finland in July of 2012.
In an unexpected move, Bruce opened the show with a full-band electric set of his entire Nebraska album followed by a very somber, low-key acoustic-only set of The River album. This current 964-date tour is in support of the new “The Ties That Bind: The River Collection” box set. Bruce noted, “Just wanted to mix things up a bit.”
The Boss then took his first short break to thank the crowd of delirious super fans who got wind of the secret show through social media, email newsletter and a series of electronic billboards promoting the show along Highway 9 in the Garden State. The Boss hinted the show would be special as he downed a six pack of 20-ounce Ensure Nutrition Shakes.
With his wife Patti Scialfa gently strumming a guitar besides him, the veteran raconteur launched into a four-hour story about growing up in Jersey. His distinctive weathered voice waxed poetic about racing cars, playing pool, skipping school and stealing 700 pounds of pork roll from an unattended delivery truck parked on Cookman Ave. “We were so young and innocent and Wendy really really loved that pork roll.”
The opening notes of “Rosalita” then ignited a 4-hour celebration of classics where Bruce changed outfits 16 times, crowd surfed into the Men’s Room 4 times and welcomed his first wife Julianne Phillips onstage along with his parish priest to perform a final annulment of their marriage.
Fans were then treated to a 90-minute hologram Clarence Clemons sax solo backed by The Jersey Horns, The South Jersey Horns, and The Horns of Northern Jersey. Bruce stood offstage and did a quick but thorough set of biceps curls, lat pulls-downs, jumping jacks and 30 minutes on an elliptical machine without breaking a sweat.
With every hometown Bruce show you are guaranteed special guests and this once-in-a-lifetime spectacle did not disappoint.
Bruce and his band where joined on stage throughout the night by a who’s who of New Jersey royalty including: Southside Johhny, Bob Bandiera, Christine Todd Whitman, Glenn Danzig, Nick Jonas, Joe Piscopo, Pat DiNizio, two members of My Chemical Romance, Queen Latifah, Ray Liotta, Lauren Hill, Zach Braff, Frankie Valli, John Popper, Nicole Atkins, Pat Roddy, Glenn Mercer, Dave Wyndorf, David Bryan, Greg Attonito, Patrick Stickles, Derek Jeter, Carli Lloyd, Uncle Floyd, Joe Flacco, three fourths of The Nerds, Vinnie Mad Dog Lopez, the cast of Jersey Boys, Robert Iler, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Jerry Only, Sebastian Bach and Steve Adubato.
The highlight for many of the locals was singer John Easdale jumping onstage to perform the beloved Dramarama classic “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” while Bruce and a team of city councilmen approved plans for a new luxury condo to be built on Kingsley Street.
As Hour 12 rolled around, attendees dripping in sweat and near exhaustion described the marathon event as “historic,” “exhilarating” and “We can’t leave, they locked the doors.”
The doors did open for a brief period when the Asbury Park Fire Company fired water hoses onto the crowd and stage, per orders of Bruce, while he played “I’m On Fire,” “Fire,” “We Didn’t Start The Fire” (Billy Joel Cover), “Fire and Rain” (James Taylor cover) and “Fire Water Burn” by The Bloodhound Gang.
Bruce then did 500 push-ups and quickly changed into his iconic Born in The U.S.A. album cover outfit—jeans, white t-shirt, red baseball cap—and performed the entire album while jogging on a treadmill. Rumors a Courtney Cox cameo were swirling but proved false. Still, fans were delighted when Bruce reached out during “Dancing in The Dark” and pulled Gaslight Anthem singer Brian Fallon on stage to recreate the iconic hip-swinging dance scene from the popular 80s video.
After a 50-minutes of intense dancing, Brian, who was dressed exactly like Bruce, stayed on stage to sing 14 Woodie Guthrie classics while giant photos of Tom Morello, Noam Chomsky and Billy Bragg were shown on the video displays.
Bruce and the gang had some well-orchestrated fun planned in advance for the show, playing on themes from some of his biggest hits:
- During “Born in The U.S.A” a pregnant fan came up on stage and gave birth. Bruce cut the cord and handed the baby to the father without missing a note.
- As the final chords of “Born to Run” echoed throughout the venue, Bruce led a 5K race around the Stony Pony and gave out water bottles, GU packets and participation medals.
- In conjunction with a local cat adoption agency, Bruce found new homes for 17 stray cats while delivering a rousing version of fan-favorite “Kitty’s Back.”
- The raucous “Glory Days” nearly brought down the house as Bruce played catch with his two adult sons while Newark mayor Cory Booker took lead vocals.
After a 2-minute break to poop, the lights dimmed and Bruce sat on stool for an intimate 2 hour, 45-minute tale about a Factory (Cheesecake) closing down in his current hometown of Rumson and followed it up with his classic working-man tributes “Factory,” “Ghost of The Factory,” “Factory Joe,” “My Hometown Factory,” “Discount Halloween Factory Store,” and “Factory or Fiction.”
At this point in the night, Hour 22, 63 fans were treated for exhaustion with only 4 reported deaths.
- Bruce shot a commercial for reverse mortgages during a Max Weinberg drum solo.
- The boss partook in a lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon, James Cordon and Charlie Rose, performing the second side of the Lucky Town album.
- A video montage of Bruce wrestling a bear, rebuilding a 57 Chevy engine, and boogie boarding during Super Storm Sandy played while Bruce performed a harmonica-only version of the entire High Hopes record.
- Bruce’s daughter Jessica rode her prized show jumping horse onstage and leapt over various band members while Bruce played a very dour version of “Pink Cadillac” on a mandolin.
As Hour 27 chimed and Bruce was finishing his 17th encore, a chant for “10 More Songs” rippled through the newly energized crowd. Bruce complied and played the last nine tracks from Devils & Dust before finally ending the show with an impressive indoor fireworks display and a true bring-the-house-down version of “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy).”
The show ended with Bruce thanking his fans, hugging his bandmates and being shot out of a cannon from stage, over the Convention Hall and into an awaiting boat to whisk him off to his next show.