September 20, 2012

Notes from the road: Night 1 in East Rutherford, NJ

“This place is pretty nice!” remarked Bruce Springsteen as he and E Street Band returned to New Jersey for their first-ever show at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday night. “The E Street Band is here to consecrate the proceedings in this building with the power of rock and soul!”

Clearly happy to be back on his home turf, Bruce had a lot of fun with the Jersey crowd, particularly during “Wrecking Ball” as the crowd loved the references to “champions” and “Giants.” Later in the show, he told a story about going out driving on a summer night with his parents over to the Jersey Freeze to get ice cream (it turns out Bruce was a bigger fan of the cone than the ice cream itself).

The band was a little bigger tonight, as Patti Scialfa returned to the stage and sang several duets with Bruce. “Human Touch” was a big highlight of the show, with Bruce and Patti facing each other, singing the words to each other at center stage.

Also present was E Street alumnus Vini “Mad Dog” Lopez, the band’s first drummer. After Max Weinberg left the stage and the band started playing “The E Street Shuffle,” Bruce turned around and asked “What happened to the drummer? Did Max get sick? We need an M.D. — Mad Dog!” Vini’s was a particularly enthusiastic performance, including a roaring drum battle with percussionist Everett Bradley at the end of the song.

As the band powered through the encore, no one — whether on stage or in the stands — showed any signs of letting up. Finally, Bruce sent everyone home dancing with “Twist and Shout,” as fireworks were shot off from the top of the stadium. Bruce even retrieved a sign from the crowd that read “Apologies from Hyde Park,” joking that “I think someone’s going to pull the plug!”

Three hours and 44 minutes in, after 30 songs, Bruce and the band finally called it quits — for now. Before leaving the stage, he reminded the crowd: “We’ll be back Friday and Saturday nights with another spectacular!”

—Glenn Radecki,