Last night at the grand reopening of the iconic Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, NJ, a certain local hero described thinking of himself as “The Ghost Of Christmas Past” as he walks down the boardwalk.

That Bruce Springsteen still walks the boards in Asbury Park is a good thing, that he was on hand to help reopen the place was a very good thing.

iStar has sunk serious money into the venerable city, and their latest foray into the music scene is a serious one.  This is not your uncle’s bowling alley of 40 years ago—not one Ghost Of Bowling Team Past to be found on this night.  Plain and simple, this is a state of the art entertainment venue.

As Springsteen was an announced participant in the night’s festivities, no one was surprised that he’d be in the house, sitting in with the Tangiers Blues Band.

What I did find surprising was that he walked out before the music got underway (to a thunderous roar of the assembled 700 or so folks in the house) and made some opening remarks.  He was genuine and clearly comfortable to be doing so.  And he brought on the night’s opening act, the Tangiers Blues Band--that features his pal and frequent photographer, Toms River’s own Danny Clinch on harmonica and occasional vocals.

As the TBB churned through their set of steamy, swampy blues they were setting the stage for the much anticipated Boss Time.

And how great it was to see Bruce Springsteen with that familiar ELECTRIC GUITAR in hand and ready to get down to business.

Bruce was on stage for 4 songs—his portion lasted close to half an hour.

The songs:

"Rockin' Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu" (Huey “Piano” Smith)

“I Just Want To Make Love To You”  (Muddy Waters)

“Down The Road A Piece”  (Don Raye)

“Twist & Shout”  (The Isley Brothers/The Beatles)

Special guest knew that they were on a tight schedule and wasted little time getting down to business.  Blues have always been a big part of the Jersey Shore music scene, so this music was by no means a reach for Springsteen.  Being able to stand mere feet from the stage and absorb him laying into the guitar parts and vocal contributions was bliss.  And sent the mind quickly wondering “what’s next” following Springsteen On Broadway.  We’ve seen Danny Clinch put his harp in his pocket and grab his camera more than once at Light Day, and snap off a couple of “close ups” of his pal.  He did just that again last night and that move always puts a smile on my face.

The night’s headline band, Portugal. The Man, came out and jumped in quickly with their winning Alt Rock sound.  They were so hot that they set off the fire alarms three times—or maybe that was just their on-stage smoke effect, but they plowed right through the distraction of the house lights coming on and the alarms blaring.  Their “Feel It Still” was far and away the biggest song of 2017, and they were pumped to be a part of Jersey Shore music history last night.  They’ll always be able to say “…remember that time that Springsteen opened for us—in ASBURY PARK…”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was on hand, as were actors Hugh Jackman and Adrien Grenier.  Springsteen musical pal Jesse Malin was in the house too.

But the night clearly belonged to one guy.  The Ghost of the Past was very much present and accounted for.