Bruce Springsteen resurrects famed Asbury Park music venue at boisterous re-opening concert
Although Bruce Springsteen has spent much of the last year at the Walter Kerr Theatre on W. 48th Street, the man they call The Boss will always be a Jersey boy.
Springsteen returned to Asbury Park, the New Jersey shore town that kickstarted the recent Tony-winner’s career, to help christen the newly renovated Asbury Lanes Monday night.
The 68-year-old rocker ripped through a short set backed by Tangiers Blues Band, featuring his longtime friend, photographer Danny Clinch, on harmonica.
The rowdy performance could not have been further away in tone and style from Springsteen’s restrained, acoustic Broadway show.
In fact, it was much closer to the frenetic, jammy energy of storied shows in the early 1970s at clubs along the Jersey Shore that served as the launchpad for Springsteen’s career and gave shape to his mythology as the hard-working showman as working class hero.
Wailing on his trademark Fender electric guitar, Springsteen led the band through covers of Muddy Waters’ “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.”
Although Springsteen is well-known for dropping in for secret shows at the nearby Stone Pony, the intimate Asbury Lanes set offered the evening’s 300 attendees (which included Hugh Jackman and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy) the rare opportunity to see Springsteen totally loose and seemingly unrehearsed.
“To the 5!” Springsteen shouted several times during “Twist and Shout,” bringing the song around to its famous chorus and showcasing his skills as a bandleader.
Portland rockers Portugal. The Man were given the unenviable task of following Springsteen.
Their dynamic set, which featured a mesmerizing light show, mostly lived up to the challenge, especially during “Purple Yellow Red & Blue” and their viral 2017 hit “Feel It Still.”
The evening was hosted by iStar, the real estate development company responsible for the famed venue’s re-emergence.
Asbury Lanes originally opened in 1962, and re-opened once before in 2003, becoming primarily a punk rock venue. It closed in 2015.
The developers also designed and own Asbury Park’s “Magic Mile” waterfront, which has come to personify the town’s recent comeback after decades of neglect and disrepair.
“We could either give up and cut and run like so many others did before us, or we could stay and fight for this town,” iStar CEO Jay Sugarman said.
“A lot of people were dismissing Asbury Park as a town of faded glory and failed projects. But sometimes you see the future so clearly that you can take a step back and say, ‘not this time, not on our watch.’”
The company doubled down on its promise to revitalize the community by announcing a donation of $125,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Monmouth County.