Trenton, NJ.
State Capital.
Garden Spot of the Garden State.
My Hometown.

And the subject of today’s release from the Springsteen archive series, as the final night of Bruce Springsteen’s acclaimed solo Devils & Dust tour sees the light of day.  This becomes the third show released from this tour, joining 7/31/05 in Columbus and 8/3/05 in Grand Rapids.

The show was the second of back-to-back nights in what was then called Sovereign Bank Arena.  It was the fifth time that he’d performed in the city, the first three coming in 1974 at the War Memorial on two different occasions—first in May, then two nights in November.

Photo by Tom Cunningham
Photo by Tom Cunningham

Fun fact:  Springsteen, this time with the E Street Band, would return to that building (then known as the Sun National Bank Center) basically seven years ago to the day today to break in a new stage and prep for the Wrecking Ball tour.

Unfortunately, Trenton hasn’t experienced the bounce back that some of the other cities in our state have.  I think of Newark and Hoboken and Jersey City and Camden and, yes, Asbury Park.  Here’s hoping that one day that becomes a reality and success story.

That night the building was filled with Springsteen’s family and friends, not to mention die-hard fans from all over the world.  The final night of a tour has that kind of effect.  People who follow the tour bond with fellow fans and even some of the crew.  It’s inevitable and part of the magic that makes the community.

Toss in the fact that it’s an easy ride from the Monmouth County homestead on I-195 to the arena.  You’re home in just about an hour?  Tough to beat.

At 76 shows, Devils & Dust was one of Springsteen’s shorter tours, but that did not lessen its impact.  The number of instruments used to perform the songs seemed limitless.  The arrangements brought new interpretation to even some of the oldest war horses.

Walking onstage that night to Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” Springsteen strapped in and launched into Link Wray’s “Rumble” to honor the guitar pioneer who’d passed earlier in the month.  He’d done the same the night before as well.

Tom Cunningham
Tom Cunningham

How about a song not performed since 1974?  You got that too, with the epic story/song “Zero & Blind Terry” performed at the piano.  “Song For Orphans,” which had its tour premiere the night before (first time that had been played since 1973), brought off-stage accompanist Alan Fitzgerald out into the spotlight, fittingly for the second night in a row.

Got ukulele?  Got Growin’ Up!  Got Patti Scialfa?  Got another tour premiere and a stunning version of Mansion On The Hill.

Got friends?  Got family?  Got Santa Claus rolling into town with a complete cast of characters surrounding the piano.

It was that kind of night from beginning to end.

Tough to top soul stirring versions of Backstreets and Drive All Night.  Pin drop time, really.

And then the show closer, and on this night the tour closer…Dream Baby Dream.

I just want to see you smile.

Thanks, Bruce.  For the music and the many smiles.  And like you on this night, shared with family and many friends.

Dream Baby Dream indeed!

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