Bruce Springsteen returns to Philly stomping grounds

Singer Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will perform at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File

The Boss is back.

Philly fans have been waiting a long time to see Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band hit the stage, and this Thursday’s show at the Wells Fargo Center should more that satisfy Brooooooce fans thirsting for a familiar trek down E Street. That’s because, no matter how much of Springsteen’s past is wrapped up in all things New Jersey – from his Long Branch birthplace to his Asbury Park early gigs to hanging out by the healing waters of Atlantic City – the legend of Bruce is as deeply rooted in Philadelphia as it is the shore points of Jersey.

And that is a history that goes far beyond Springsteen having written and played the song, ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ for the Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington film from director Jonathan Demme, ‘Philadelphia’, and having played his longest ever U.S. show here in 2016 at 4 hours and 4 minutes, with a total of 34 songs.

Springsteen’s journey with the Philadelphia-area begins in 1973 with beloved shows at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr — and holds tight at that same venue though 1975’s legendarily bootlegged, WMMR-FM-recorded concert hosted by David Dye and Ed Sciaky. Along with The Main Point being Springsteen’s unofficial clubhouse, he and his E Street Band played many shows on Villanova University’s campus and Upper Darby’s Tower Theatre.

Famously, it was Sciaky, an influential Philly radio disc jockey who helped launch the careers of Yes, Billy Joel, Genesis and Sting, who was responsible for taking care of Springsteen’s best interests, and introducing The Boss to David Bowie back when the latter was recording ‘Young Americans’ at North 12th Street’s Sigma Sound Studios in 1974. During those same sessions, Bowie recorded a version of Springsteen’s ‘It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City’ intended for ‘Young Americans’, but remaining unreleased until his ‘Sound + Vision’ box set in 1989.

Closer to the present day, Springsteen and his E Street Band — still featuring Bruce’s longtime consiglieri Little Steven Van Zant and forever drummer Max Weinberg, bassist Gary Tallent and pianist/accordionist Roy Bittan — have been sticking to a set list that includes their last original music album together, ‘Letter to You’, along with old R&B hits from his 2022 solo album ‘Only the Strong Survive’. As for Springsteen’s own classics, you can expect everything from ‘Because the Night’ (written with Patti Smith) and ‘She’s the One’ to ‘Thunder Road,’ ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),’ ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’ and beyond. Because, if there’s one thing about a Springsteen show in Philadelphia, there is always a ‘beyond’ — songs played here that he will play nowhere else.