Click here to view a photo showcase of The Boss' concert on Thursday.
Fans ripped into popcorn bags, high-fived friends and downed some pre-show beers to help them through the pre-show buzz.
As they took their seats Thursday night, they waved at friends and texted their section numbers to coordinate mid-concert meet-ups. Though people were excited to meet up with their pals, Bruce Springsteen riveted them to their seats.
I don't think anyone left.
Springsteen, like a righteous reverend at a rock 'n' roll megachurch, kept everyone enthralled whether he played a spiritual song (“My City of Ruins”), celebratory song (“Dancing in the Dark”), protest song (“We Take Care of Our Own”) or power song (“Born to Run”).
Even after three hours and six minutes of this whirlwind, Springsteen, the E Street Band and the gathered audience of more than 12,000 had enough energy to keep going another hour at least. The audience would have been all for it, especially after the band played so many songs from “Nebraska.”
Fans held signs for “Badlands,” “Born to Run” and “Sherry Darling,” but Springsteen hit the stage with “Reason to Believe,” “Johnny 99” and “Atlantic City,” three tunes from his 1982 album named after our state.
Later in the show, he played even more from the album including “State Trooper,” “Open All Night” and “Highway Patrolman.”
In the end, the band played more songs from “Nebraska” (six) than from Springsteen's latest album, “Wrecking Ball” (five).
Springsteen's knows how to keep an audience enthralled. It was one of the best show's I've seen, even better than his 2008 show here.
Both new and old tunes were welcomed by the fans. Whether it was one of his new protest tunes such as “Death to My Hometown” or a late-'70s track such as “Badlands,” fans threw themselves into the music to dance and sing.
“The E Street Band is back in Nebraska tonight. We are here on a mission. That's right,” Springsteen said before performing an 18-minute version of “My City of Ruins.” “We ain't leavin' until your hands hurt, until your voice is gone, until your feet hurt, until your back's killin' ya and until your sexual organs are stimulated. That's our job. We take it seriously.”
The audience ate it up and cheered wildly. More held up signs for requests, including a 10-year-old boy who wanted to hear “Badlands.”
“The future is secure,” Springsteen said, pointing at the boy.
Later, he invited a young girl onstage, and she sang “Waitin' on a Sunny Day” before the Boss put her on his shoulders. He invited one man from Australia to dance with him as well as a woman to dance with drummer Max Weinberg (her giant sign made such a request).
Springsteen ran into the audience a few times to perform on a small stage farther out in the crowd. Once, during “Hungry Heart,” he dove into the audience and crowd-surfed back to the main stage.
Even though he almost never stopped moving, Springsteen was on top of his game singing and playing guitar. He shredded out a solo on “Lost in the Flood” and played lead guitar on “State Trooper” right after.
The E Street Band, at 16 members strong, was incredibly versatile as well and obliged all of Springsteen's audibles, including the strangest of all: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”
The Boss spotted a funny sign with an image of himself (circa the late '70s) in a Santa Claus hat. He took the sign from the fan, who threw a Santa hat on the stage. Eventually, he put it on and the band played the band's rocking version of the tune.
It was a bit out of season, but the audience loved it and screamed for more. There's a reason people keep coming back to see the veteran rocker.
“Thank you, Nebraska, for a great night,” Springsteen said as he took his final bow. “We love you!”
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