This was our second venture down to the Light of Day benefit in Asbury Park, NJ. My mother and I have made the pilgrimage down to Asbury Park in the dead of Winter two years in a row in hopes of catching Bruce at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. The lineup was pretty similar to the year before, only this year they added Alejandro Escovedo, so we had a feeling Bruce would definitely show. And he did.
Joining Jesse Malin for Broken Radio, Willie Nile for One Guitar then gracing everyone with a ‘solo acoustic set’ of two superb but rarely performed tunes Your Own Worst Enemy and This Hard Land. This was a special moment we were sharing with Bruce. He was alone, with no backing band, in a small theater, singing with an acoustic guitar. I’ve never experienced him in this kind of intimate setting before and I was just trying to enjoy every minute of it before it ended.
Bruce then brought out Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers and kicked off a blistering set – trading songs from the catalogs of both Grushecky and Bruce like cards. He played old standards like Darkness on the Edge of Town, Pink Cadillac, Atlantic City, to “new” songs off of The Promise like One Way Street and Save My Love. He was having a blast, and so was everyone else in the theater.
After the rousing Light of Day, we knew the end was coming. Everyone came back on stage for Twist and Shout which usually marked the end of the night. We were ready to grab our things and head to the Wonder Bar when we heard Bruce ask for his acoustic guitar. We stopped dead in our tracks and turned back towards the stage to catch Bruce sing Thunder Road with the help of the entire audience. This was another special moment that we were all sharing with Bruce. Here we are in Asbury Park, a town that Bruce helped put on the map, and helped rebuild with all of the money he has contributed to the town, hearing him sing this song that we’ve heard thousands of times on the radio, record players and ipods… it felt more like we were all in a living room, singing along to a familiar song, with a familiar guy we’ve seen around town, not even realizing it was this guy who wrote it and made it what it was.