It was a party that started Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the parking lot of MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands and continued until 2 a.m. with the encore song. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band performs their hard driving, soulful sounding, crowd-hopping best to the delight of 55,000 fans while celebrating the rock star’s 63rd birthday. The music officially started at 10:30 p.m. after a rain delay of two hours and lasted well past midnight when the packed arena and close family members who accompanied “The Boss” onstage sang “Happy Birthday Bruce.”
Charter buses and car loads of fans filled the parking lot of MetLife who came as far as Scranton, Pa. to tailgate the concert when the lot opened up at l:30 p.m. Springsteen music played from all directions with bandana-clad loyalists dancing to Springsteen hits. One group in an RV replicated the feeling of Asbury Park by spreading sand on the parking lot pavement while the girls stood barefoot listening to “Girls In Their Summer Clothes.”
Springsteen has maintained his older audience, who have led a new generation of children to his music. The crowd spanned several generations with those near to or older than Springsteen himself down to 10 year olds having a hard time staying up, particularly when the rain delay pushed the concert into the early morning hours.
His first number stimulated the crowd with a rousing “Out In The Street,” which brought them to their feet and kept them there most of the night. His song list went on to include his earlier works on up to the latest album and tour name, “Wrecking Ball.” He maintains his adult followers who are reminded of their youthful impatience and idealism through his earlier works such as in “Badlands” when he screams of how he “wants control right now” energized with the heart-throbbing sax solo.
In “Wrecking Ball,” his lyrics have been redirected to politics with indications of frustration and disappointment. When he sings “We Take Care Of Our Own”, Springsteen reminds us of how this country was built on helping each other out. He sings of letting that value fall after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans when he sings, “From the shotgun shack to the Superdome. We needed help but the cavalry stayed home.” Its message hits hard, but the roughness is softened with violins and a soft sounding vocal.
Springsteen interacted with the crowd to give the audience what they wanted – The Boss himself. After a solid two hours and with each song leading into the next without much of a break, Bruce started the encore part of the night, playing eight songs starting with “Thunder Road” and ending with “Twist and Shout” and a fireworks display. He included many of the crowd-pleasers such as “Glory Days,” “Thunder Road,” “Dancing In The Dark,” where he partnered with Steve Van Zandt’s wife, Maureen, and “Born To Run.”
During “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” Bruce and the band paid homage to the late saxophone player, Clarence Clemmons with a slide show of “the big man.” Clemmons’ nephew, Jake Clemmons, is now replacing his uncle on sax for the E-Street Band. Just before the finale, Springsteen’s mother, sister, brother and mother-in-law appeared on stage with a guitar-shaped cake. Van Zandt led the crowd singing “Happy Birthday” while Bruce cut the cake, passing out pieces to the crowd until he ran out of plates.