The Boss has once again blessed Asbury Park with a legendary performance.
Bruce Springsteen joined Danny Clinch’s Tangiers Blues Band at the grand reopening of Asbury Park’s iconic bowling alley, Asbury Lanes, on Monday night, for a fiery set that had everyone in the 700-person capacity venue dancing, singing and of course videoing the iconic moment.
“It’s been a joy to see what’s been happening in town over the past 10, 15 and 20 years,” Springsteen said in an address to the crowd, which included actors Hugh Jackman and Adrian Grenier, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, before welcoming the Tangiers. He also gave a shout-out to “all the people who were here when nobody else was.”
“The art community, the gay and LGBTQ community who supported Asbury when it was down and out,” he said. “I walk down the boardwalk now and I feel like the ghost of Christmas past, but that’s okay. It’s fun to watch Asbury’s future unfold in front of me.”
The 68-year-old rock icon grew up 10 miles from Asbury Park in Freehold, New Jersey, and frequented AP, a seaside community steeped in musical history, often during his start. He’s since become known for surprising fans at The Stone Pony and showing up at the town’s annual Light of Day festival.
Currently the Boss’ schedule is booked six nights a week as he’s taken his talent to the Great White Way with his one-man Broadway show, that just earned him an honorary Tony Award.
But as a man who has always been devoted to community, Springsteen took his one night off to jam with Danny Clinch, his close friend and noted rock photographer, and the Tangiers Blue Band for a great cause.
iStar, the master developer behind Asbury Park’s waterfront transformation including the Asbury Lanes and Asbury Park Hotel, donated $125,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, a private non-profit organization that empowers children who come from some of the most difficult circumstances in the county through life-changing programs.
The Tangiers first took the stage solo, followed by Springsteen jumping in for a 40-minute set, opening with Huey “Piano” Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Other songs included the Muddy Waters classic “I Just Want to Make Love to You,” and Don Raye’s 1940 tune “Down the Road a Piece,” which Springsteen dedicated to “all the folks from the old Asbury Lanes who kept this such a funky place.”
While he got the party started, Springsteen was not the headlining act, probably marking one of his only times in the past three decades opening for another band.
Portugal. The Man closed out the show with an energetic alternative rock performance. The band, who hails from Alaska and Portland, has been together for 13 years. Their chart-topping eighth studio album, Woodstock, gained national attention and landed them with Best Pop Duo/Group Performance Grammy award thanks to their mega hit, “Feel It Still,” which has gained praise from everyone including Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb to Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.
Calling their first trip to the Jersey Shore “pretty unreal,” bassist Zachary Scott Carothers told PEOPLE it was an honor to even walk on the same stage as a legend like Springsteen.
“What’s so important about him and this place is he is the working man’s rock star,” Carothers told PEOPLE. “He’s been with this place through thick and thin — he’s been for it, and in it and with it, and that’s how we rep Alaska and Portland.”
Talent for Asbury Lanes is booked by The Bowery Presents and the concert lineup includes everyone from artists who got their start in Asbury Park to other big-name acts like Lupe Fiasco and beyond. (See full summer lineup here.)