It's Glory Days as The Boss declares his love for his delighted Irish fans
Published 30/05/2016 | 07:00
It is official - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band consider Ireland their home away from home.
The New Jersey rocker was visibly moved by the adulation of Irish fans as he brought the curtain down last night on the second of his sell-out Croke Park concerts.
And what a concert; complete with a cameo from U2 frontman Bono, and an early piano solo for hardcore fans.
Ahead of last night's big finale, Springsteen had spent his day off visiting some of his favourite Dublin haunts.
He stopped by The Long Hall pub for a drink and closed down Stillorgan's Leisureplex so the E Street Band could enjoy a bowling party. Not to mention a bowl of Irish stew.
"I was brought up by the Irish side of my family," he told the crowd while performing 1973 classic 'Growin' Up'. "I lived on an L-shaped block and they were all Irish.
"At Christmastime I heard an Irish voice and I swear it said, 'Son, let it rock'."
Irish rock legend Bono joined Springsteen on stage to perform duet 'Because the Night'.
As the sunshine ebbed away, Springsteen paused on stage, savouring the moment as his legion of Irish fans screamed for still more after a three-and-a-half hour rockfest - "We love, love, love, love Ireland," he said.
The gigs are his first ever at GAA headquarters.
The Boss also said that Dublin, where the bulk of his gigs over the years have been staged, now has a claim on his heart and the hearts of the E Street Band members.
"It has been very special for us," he said.
Thirty-one years after he made his Irish debut at Slane Castle on June 1, 1985, the reciprocal love affair between Springsteen and Ireland shows absolutely no sign of abating.
This was Springsteen's 12th Irish tour in 31 years.
Since 1985, he has never omitted Ireland from a European tour schedule.
More than 160,000 rock fans had flocked to Dublin for the two gigs - and delivered a €10m tourism bonanza for Dublin hoteliers and restaurant owners in the process.
Even Taoiseach Enda Kenny, an avowed Boss fan, got in on the act with an impromptu jig to 'Dancing in the Dark' in the stands at the Friday night gig. Recalling his last concert in Ireland - at Kilkenny's Nowlan Park in July 2013 - Springsteen told the crowd of his fondness for Ireland and the special response his songs such as 'This Hard Land' have generated here. "That was very memorable for me," he said.
But what was truly remarkable over the past 48 hours was the cross-generational appeal that Springsteen has. Grandparents did the twist alongside their amazed and embarrassed grandchildren.
It was an emotional finale as the Boss - gazing around the stadium heaving with 80,000 weary but enthralled fans - told the faithful: "Remember that the E Street Band loves you." With a roar that could have been heard in Portlaoise, the Croke Park masses assured The Boss and his band that they loved him right back.