Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band wrapped up a three-night stand at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey last night (Aug. 30) with an epic, record breaking show that topped four hours.
Clocking in at 4:01 with 34 songs played, Springsteen shattered the previous records from last week’s Aug. 23 and Aug. 25 shows, making Tuesday night’s concert the longest E Street Band performance in the United States and the second longest of his career. The record for the longest E Street Band show was set in 2012 in Helsinki, Finland.
Joined once again by a string section, Springsteen kicked things off with an ode to the tri-state area with “New York City Serenade.” As the orchestra swelled to a crescendo, the E Street band — particularly Roy Bittan’s piano, Jake Clemons’longing saxophone and Max Weinberg’s thunderous drumming — infused the work with dramatic intent, as Springsteen brought the song to its climax, belting “he’s singing” under the lush arrangement.
“Are you ready to gamble with E Street band tonight?” he asked, adding that the group was going to play songs not performed the previous two nights.
Sticking with that promise, Springsteen led the band through “Blinded by the Light,” “Does this Bus stop at 82nd Street,” and “It’s So Hard to be a Saint in the City.”
This was the set list from heaven, with Springsteen serving as our rock ‘n’ roll preacher, demanding you “feel the spirit” as he dropped to his knees for “Spirit in the Night.” As an added bonus, Rickie Lee Jones was brought out on stage to sing alongside Patti Scialfa, and stayed on for a few songs (note to the video screen directors: a close-up would have been nice for people seated higher up).
In a comical moment, Springsteen put the song on pause for a moment when he stopped to enjoy a cold drink from the audience.
“I’ll be with you in a minute,” he said, later taking another swig and chugging it like a teenager. “I got an ice cream headache.”
Speaking of which, the man’s stamina at 66 is a sight to behold. He frequently runs the length of the stage, leaping into the audience and never once lost the pacing.
After taking many signs for requests, the band broke into a raucous cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues,” with Steven Van Zandt taking the baritone on the humorous lines. He was spot-on chastising Springsteen, “I’d like to help you son, but you’re too young to vote.”
While the earlier songs were odes to the Big Apple, New Jersey was rewarded with “4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)” and a nod to fans from the “shore.”
“This is a beautiful night we got tonight,” he said. “This is as good as New Jersey gets right here.”
He then dug deep once again into The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle with a jazzy version of “Kitty’s Back,” a song that gave Bittan ample reason to riff, and Clemons a chance to shine. Springsteen poured every ounce of sweat and sex into a guitar solo that cried into the night.
Nearly two hours into the show, Springsteen steered clear of any song past 1974. He kept it old school, bringing out old friends Spanish Johnny for “Incident on 57th Street” and “Rosalita” — who came out earlier than the encores — before returning to his bar band roots with a cover of “Pretty Flamingo,” and some insight into his eating habits. In case you are wondering, he likes to eat a ham sandwich on white bread with cheese, lettuce and a lot of mayonnaise (note: no mustard ever..as the Boss put it, “no f&*king Grey Poupon!”).
Shortly before ten, he fast-forwarded to 1982 and the Nebraska album with “Atlantic City.” The jaunt into the ‘80s continued with a succession of songs fromBorn in the USA: “I’m Going Down,” ‘Working on the Highway,” “Darlington County” (an absolute blast with licks from The Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman,” Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” and a vocal assist from Nils Lofgren), “Down Bound Train” and a sexy “I’m on Fire,” with Springsteen bathed in red light.
Lest anyone forgot, this is The River Tour, and Springsteen led the audience with the party anthems “Hungry Heart” (as he and Clemons strutted through a pathway into the crowd), and “Out in the Street.
Springsteen took a brief jaunt into the ‘90s with “Living Proof,” a song written for his son, saying “This one’s for Evan,” and quickly returned to the 70’s with Weinberg’s galloping drums leading the way into “Candy’s Room,” “She’s the One,” “Because the Night” (Lofgren is simply a guitar God on this song, stomping his foot to every beat with Weinberg then whirling like a dervish to the chorus) and a singalong of “Badlands.”
Returning for the encores with just an acoustic guitar, Springsteen asked if there were any “lovers” in the crowd. After a tepid response, he said that “makes me sad.” To rectify that, he wooed the audience with “Secret Garden,” but really he had us at hello.
Keeping with the mood, Springsteen melded into “Jungleland,” giving Clemons yet another opportunity to shine with prime video screen real estate for the iconic solo.
With the house lights up, Springsteen rocked through the obligatory stretch of “Born to Run” and “Dancing in the Dark” (Springsteen’s dance partner opted for a turn on guitar), and “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” before demanding “encouragement” to twist again (it is summer!) with “Twist and Shout.”
Just when it seemed it was over, he shouted “let’s keep going,” and did so with “Glory Days” and his usual cover of the Isley Brothers‘ “Shout.”
With his voice on the verge of breaking and declarations of being “tired,” Springsteen dug deep, knowing that fans were anxiously awaiting that record-breaking moment.
“You have challenged the E Street Band,” he said, adding that the three-night stand was the most fun the group ever had at the Meadowlands.
With that, he concluded with a song for the hometown “Jersey Girls,” as the sky ignited with fireworks and capped off another historic night.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s Aug. 30, MetLife Stadium set list:
1. New York City Serenade (w/strings)
2. Blinded By The Light
3. Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street
4. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City
5. Spirit In The Night (w Rickie Lee Jones)
6. Summertime Blues (sign)
7. 4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy)
8. Kitty’s Back
9. Incident On 57th Street
11. Pretty Flamingo
12. Atlantic City
13. I’m Goin’ Down
14. Darlington County
15. Working On The Highway
16. Downbound Train
17. I’m On Fire
18. Hungry Heart
19. Out In The Street
20. Living Proof
21. Candy’s Room
22. She’s The One
23. Because The Night
24. The Rising
26. Secret Garden
28. Born To Run
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. 10th Ave. Freeze-Out
31. Twist & Shout
32. Glory Days
34. Jersey Girl (with fireworks)