Last night I experienced a cultural event second to none. Being in the pit with the few lucky fans who could touch the stage helped, but seeing Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium in New Jersey must be like seeing the Pope at the Vatican…except the audience at Giants Stadium doesn’t need a hymnal to sing every word! The Boss is the ultimate showman who could teach a thing or two to radio.
First of all, check out the set list from last night’s show. Springsteen and the E Street Band played 28 songs, but only four of them were radio “hits.” Excluding a couple of cover songs, 85% of the songs were depth tracks. When the familiar hits were played, the crowd frenzied to its highest levels and basked in the most familiar of music territory with noticeable satisfaction. But, they lived for the depth tracks…the songs the band hasn’t played live in decades.
Several times during the three hour show Springsteen promoted local community groups and charities. He spoke about them…for example, a senior community group in Asbury Park…as if they were family. Fifty-five thousand people listened intently to every word, and The Boss made his points quickly and moved on. He took definitive stands on sensitive global issues that most public figures avoid, and not only got away with it, but he took the audience with him without catching flack.
Twice during the show, Springsteen showed the audience his personal values. Once, singing “Happy Birthday” to his wife and band mate Patti Scialfa, and at the end of the show bringing his teenage daughter on stage with her girlfriends to sing “Twist and Shout.” He beamed on stage between his wife and daughter.
Lastly, it was obvious that Springsteen loved pleasing the crowd one fan at a time. He literally and physically touched as many fans as he possibly could while bouncing around the stage. At the closing curtain call, he rewarded those he connected with most during the show with a purposeful finger point or a thumbs-up.
Here’s what I witnessed: A healthy balance of depth tracks and familiar hits. A true connection to community. A strong moral compass. Relatable human values. Direct audience relationships. Thanks Bruce. Long live Boss Radio!