As Bruce Springsteen begins his three-show stand at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford tonight, my thoughts — and I’m sure, the thoughts of a lot of other people — turn to his last show at his home state’s largest venue, on Sept. 22, 2012. I’ve been to maybe 150 or so Springsteen shows over the years, and this was surely one of the most memorable. For a lot of reasons.
The show — the last of the three he did at MetLife Stadium that year — began on the eve of his 63rd birthday and, with its start delayed by a thunderstorm, ended at almost 2 a.m. “I think I just invited 55,000 people to my birthday party,” The Boss said when he finally took the stage at 10:30 p.m. and played his first song, “Out in the Street.”
There was a special guest (Gary U.S. Bonds), some big surprises in the setlist (“Cynthia,” “Into the Fire,” “Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart”), a performance of “In the Midnight Hour” as the show hit the midnight mark, and an onstage birthday celebration, with cake and the crowd singing “Happy Birthday,” as the show drew to a close.
But mostly I remember the show because of the unique position I was in. I was writing for The Star-Ledger/NJ.com at the time, and did a live blog from the show. This meant that I was in the press box with a laptop computer, and kept blogging through the storm delay, and the show itself. When everyone was herded out of the stadiums and into the building’s hallways, to protect them from possible lightning, I was able to stay in the press box, blogging. Which meant I was able to communicate exactly what was going on — and, in some cases, relay official announcements — to fans in New Jersey, and beyond.
Because of the birthday angle, and some wild rumors (including one that Paul McCartney would show up), there was a lot of attention on this show. And once the word got out about the delay, and people began to speculate if there might be a postponement, lots of people found their way to the live blog. There were about 500 comments, some by me but most by other people chiming in or asking questions, throughout the night: they’re all still there at nj.com/entertainment/music/index.ssf/2012/09/bruce_springsteen_at_metlife_s_3.html (look at the comments section at the bottom of the page, where it says “From the archive”). Remarkably, there was virtually none of the negativity you often get in any kind of online forum. Everyone was genuinely interested in what was going on; in some cases, they began talking to each other, virtually.
I did live blogs for The Star-Ledger/NJ.com on a number of different occasions, but never had the kind of steady stream of questions and comments that I had on this one.
Here is the setlist from the show, and below that, some YouTube videos from it.
“Out in the Street”
“The Ties That Bind”
“Who’ll Stop the Rain”
“We Take Care of Our Own”
“Death to My Hometown”
“My City of Ruins”
“It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City”
“Jole Blon” (with Gary U.S. Bonds)
“This Little Girl” (with Gary U.S. Bonds)
“Pay Me My Money Down”
“Janey, Don’t You Lose Heart”
“In the Midnight Hour”
“Into the Fire”
“Because the Night”
“She’s the One”
“Working on the Highway”
“Shackled and Drawn”
“Waitin’ on a Sunny Day”
“Meeting Across the River”
“Born to Run”
“Seven Nights to Rock”
“Dancing in the Dark”
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” (with Gary U.S. Bonds)
“Twist and Shout” (with Gary U.S. Bonds, Adele Springsteen, Maureen Van Zandt, other family members)