Bruce declares Ireland his 'adopted home' after five-gig tour
US rock legend Bruce Springsteen proudly hailed Ireland as his "adopted home" for the past 28 years, and sent his legion of Irish fans home happy with a vow that he will be back again.
The New Jersey rocker's vow came as he concluded a remarkable five-concert Irish tour in Kilkenny, which has seen him play to almost 150,000 fans in 12 days.
Gigs in Limerick, Cork, Belfast and Kilkenny (2) sold out in record time, and such was the interest in the Kilkenny concerts that even the Cats All-Ireland hurling championship quarter-final in Thurles against Cork was brought forward two hours to suit fans determined to attend both events.
The concerts proved a financial godsend for the Kilkenny County GAA Board.
Kilkenny traders were also celebrating one of their biggest tourism coups, with the two-concert 'Wrecking Ball Weekender' in Nowlan Park proving a sell-out triumph, with hotels, restaurants, pubs and B&Bs reporting bumper trade.
But the special bond between 'The Boss' and Ireland was the undoubted theme of his two Kilkenny shows.
More than 1,000 fans in the mosh pit held up "thank you" signs as Springsteen walked on stage with the E Street Band – a gesture that clearly took the 63-year old singer aback.
In a moving recollection of his legendary Slane Castle concert of 1985, Springsteen told fans that, ever since then, "Ireland has kinda adopted us ... it has been a very special place for us".
But he also admitted that Slane was the biggest outdoor festival gig he had played at that time and was taken totally aback by the huge Irish crowd at the Meath venue.
"I was having a f***ing heart attack," he joked.
While fans on Saturday night got to enjoy 1984's 'Born in the USA' album played in its entirely, Springsteen opted to reward fans last night with the entire 'Born to Run' album from 1975.
It was the first back-to-back album shows ever performed by the Boss in Ireland.
Incredibly, the two Kilkenny concerts ran to almost seven hours in total with Springsteen also sharing the stage with Glen Hansard and Imelda May.
Hansard, who admitted he was a huge Springsteen fan, was visibly thrilled when he was invited to share a microphone with 'The Boss' for a memorable duet on 'Drive All Night'.
For others, it was simply the latest chapter in a long-running rock 'n' roll love affair.
Tony Sheehan from Kilworth, Co Cork, was at Slane 28 years ago and tries never to miss an Irish tour by Springsteen.
Joe Power from Dublin was also at the famous 1985 gig and, in passing the torch on to a new generation, brought along his 12 year-old daughter to Kilkenny.
"I even bought her one of the special green Irish tour T-shirts. This is a dream come true," he said.
Within one hour of going on sale, most adult sizes were sold out despite costing €30 each.