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Around 9.30pm CET, about a half hour after the scheduled start time, The Boss popped out onto the stage.
The crowd — which had been bubbling with anticipation while the final concertgoers made their way into the stadium and found their places — immediately erupted.
But Bruce Springsteen didn't give them much time to savor that opening moment.
He strutted to the front of the stage, slung his guitar over his shoulder and, just like that, the music was blaring.
That's how the global icon opened his first concert at Camp Nou since 2009. And he didn't stop for more than three hours.
On a cool, comfortable evening with a slight breeze and views of the half-moon high above the stadium, Mr. Springsteen gave everyone in attendance a show brimming with energy and paced to perfection.
There are few phenomena that attract such a diverse following. Camp Nou was packed with a heterogeneous mix of locals, people from the city of Barcelona and the rest of Catalonia, fans from far-flung provinces in the rest of Spain, and scores upon scores of die-hards who travelled from all across Europe to see and hear the man play and sing. Over 65,000 people in all came to witness the spectacle.
Simply put, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band held a one-night festival in Barcelona.
Flanked by giant high-definition screens on both sides of and behind the stage, the first concert of The River Tour in Europe rocked the house.
The night opened with Better Days and cruised along with The River, this tour's namesake and the title song from the album he launched 35 years ago.
An unexpected tribute to Prince, who recently passed away, materialized out of thin air. The crowd sang in unison as The Boss led the chorus line of Purple Rain, with just the right number of floodlights turning, of course, purple, while the general ambience stayed dark enough to convey a ubiquitous feeling of sadness and loss.
Romanticism made the rounds as well, with the rhythmic tempo of the unmistakable piano lead-in to Hungry Heart setting the mood for untold numbers of couples to embrace as they swayed to the steady drumbeat of love. It was the sing-along moment of the night and it had a powerful effect on The Boss, as the man of the hour descended the stairs, stage right, and waded into the crowd.
Mr. Springsteen ascended multiple islands as he made his way through the masses to the opposite side, even jogging the final stretch from stage left back to center stage.
Once there, he bent over as if to catch his breath and, in the process, poke some fun at his age. The crowd was in on the ruse and, in response, cheered for him as loudly as they did all night, a way of thanking him for putting forth an epic performance and exuding the charisma and energy typically reserved for superheroes.
Soon, the stadium's full, white lighting brightened the enormous bowl to the point where it was as awakening as the midday sun.
The first notes of Born in the USA rang out and Camp Nou was instantly transported back to the summer of 1984. Fists pumped right on beat as Mr. Springsteen's guitar pick stroked the notes of, perhaps, his most famous song. A scattering of American flags dotted the stands.
A tireless rendition of Born to Run was astutely followed by Dancing in the Dark.
The climax was near.
And in a scene that brought back memories of Ferris Bueller, except not in Chicago but rather in Barcelona, Springsteen went with a cover of the Beatles' Twist and Shout. To say it was well-received would be the epitome of humility.
Tens of thousands twisted together. And shouted. And twisted some more. The Boss was a human dynamo. It wasn't a movie shoot but it sure felt like one.
Congrats to the Champions
This was Bruce Springsteen's fifth concert at Camp Nou. But it just happened to be the first time The Boss was playing his music on the same day the team that plays its games there were crowned with a title.
“Enhorabona, Barça!" he shouted out to the crowd to congratulate the team.
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