It turns out there is a cure for the summertime blues. Just let Bruce Springsteen host your end-of-summer house party.
“My people!” Springsteen greeted the thousands of fans congregated in Citizens Bank Park last night, before launching into the old Eddie Cochran song that kicked off the evening’s epic, 33-song set list. “We’re gonna raise a fuss, we’re gonna raise a holler!” he sang out as the near-capacity crowd danced along.
For three hours and 40 minutes, the Bank turned into the greatest Labor Day party ever. From the opening chords of “Out in the Street” through the final notes of the show-ending cover of “Twist and Shout,” Bruce and the frenzied Philly crowd enjoyed a sweaty, joyous duet that promises to resound in the memories throughout the coming fall. It was, as the Boss pointed out, his “Labor day labor of love.”
The relationship between Springsteen and the City of Brotherly Love is a long and storied one, beginning in the early 70’s when Philly embraced the Jersey rocker and adopted him as their own. Springsteen’s first major venue was the Spectrum in 1973, and time after time he’s proven that you can go home again—and rock that town night after night.
I took in last night’s show—and will do the same again tonight—with my favorite concert companions, my husband Scott, my brother Mark, and his wife Jaclyn. For those keeping count, this show marked my brother’s 117th Springsteen concert, beginning with the River tour in 1981.
My numbers are the same as his, more or less. I haven’t kept count. Neither have many West Deptford residents who are long-time E Street followers. To them, the only number that seems to count is one—as in, “I always want one more.”
“Tonight’s show was incredible,” says Maria Macaluso, a mom of three who attended Sunday’s event with her husband Ray. “Overall, I enjoy the outdoor venues, even though I’m far from the stage and I have been very close.” For Maria, “close” includes the front row at Madison Square Garden in 2006, when she touched her rock idol on the leg. “I was six months pregnant, and Bruce asked me when I was due,” she recalls.
Her fondness for the outdoor venues is linked to her very first Springsteen show—August 15, 1985. She wasn’t a fan at the time, but was dating someone who was. Her first love had left her behind to see the show with some friends. Maria and a friend heard there may be tickets available and drove her fully loaded 1985 Pontiac Fiero to the Spectrum in hopes of “finding out what the thrill was.”
“I parked my car in front of the Vet and ran to the Spectrum steps. I found a security guard who laughed at me when I mentioned the on-sale tickets. There were none, but he offered to sneak us both in,” Maria remembers. So she and her girlfriend attended their first Springsteen concert—for free!—and for Maria, there was no looking back.
“The next day, I went to the mall and bought every single Bruce Springsteen cassette,” she says. “The rest is history.”
Maria’s husband, Ray, was not a fan when the two began dating. “I told him to come into my world for a spell,” says Maria. “He doesn’t go all the time, but he’s very respectable at around 40 (Springsteen) concerts.”
“He has an amazing respect for Bruce and his work ethic and his talent and his generosity, but he’s not rabid,” she says. Though Ray enjoyed Sunday’s show, Maria will be attending Monday night with her sister.
Maria added that Springsteen played “Jersey Girl” at her first show, and was thrilled it was included in Sunday’s set list. “Hearing “Jersey Girl” tonight brought it all back to me,” she says.
Another WD mom, Carol Lewitt Axelrod, shares Macaluso’s passion for what many call the best Springsteen song not written by Springsteen. (It was written by Tom Waite.) “I love when he covers “Jersey Girl,”” she says, adding that other favorites in concert include “Spirit in the Night,” “Sherry Darling” and “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” all of which made an appearance in Sunday’s set list.
Axelrod first saw Springsteen at the Brendan Byrne Arena (now the Izod Center in the Meadowlands) in August 1984 during the Born in the USA tour. “I love his music, but his storytelling is what hooked me,” Carol says. “Each show is amazing. You never know what he’s going to play.”
Describing herself as a “late in life fan,” WD resident Linda Smith saw her first Springsteen concert at the Wells Fargo Center on September 21, 1999. “I initially went to see him because I thought it would be cool to see him before he retired,” she says. “I keep on going back because he’s the hardest working musician I’ve ever seen. He puts on an incredible show and you feel as if you got all your money’s worth. Plus every show is different! You never know what you’re going to hear.”
So Smith, like the other WD residents, will be back Monday night, to catch one more marathon presentation of the “magic in the night” before summer’s gone and the party’s over.