ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Bruce Springsteen's (search) small-scale show was postponed Saturday night, a day after The Boss staged the first of three holiday performances at the decrepit seaside resort where he rose to fame.
On Friday night, Danny DeVito (search) stood center stage to give a dramatic reading of "The Night Before Christmas," Santa Claus hat on his head and a smile on his face.
Nearby, on a stage trimmed with decorated menorahs, Christmas trees and hanging wreaths, a dozen women dressed as elves threw candy to a sellout crowd in Convention Hall. In the background, Springsteen strummed as the Max Weinberg 7 (search) played an instrumental intro before breaking into "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town."
Making good on what has become a holiday tradition, Springsteen, 54, joined Weinberg and a slew of special guests to throw a festive, three-hour extravaganza in which he promoted the local Pop Warner football league, less-famous friends like Southside Johnny and Garland Jeffreys, and the merchants of Asbury Park (search) itself, urging a sellout crowd of about 2,800 thawed-out fans to support them all.
"He's truly Asbury's own Santa," said Domenic Santana, former owner of the Stone Pony, as he watched the show. "Every time he comes into town, he leaves a bag of dough for everyone to share."
The shows, which sold out quickly after being announced last month at $100 a seat, will benefit the football league, the Asbury Park High School marching band and about a dozen other charities.
Businesses benefited by an influx of Springsteen fans, hundreds of whom show up at concert sites in hopes that tickets will be made available at the last minute.
Andrea Vizard, a 44-year-old housewife from Kent, England, flew in for the shows, even though she had only a ticket for Sunday night. On Friday, she stood in the cold, rain and snow on the Boardwalk in hopes of scoring a ticket for the show. She did.
"Oh, the weather is atrocious," she said before it started. "But it's worth it. I'm just in awe of him. He's wonderful."
But his holiday shows aren't E Street Band concerts. Instead of "Born in the USA" and "Rosalita," Springsteen played rarities like "The Wish" and "None But the Brave," as well as holiday tunes.
Most of the time, he was plugging — asking fans to buy the records of up-and-coming songwriter Jesse Malin and bandmate Nils Lofgren, urging them to spend some money at Lance & Debbie's bar, Sonny's Southern Cuisine restaurant and Studebaker Antiques, among others.
The show's highlights included an appearance by soul legend Sam Moore, who sang duets with Springsteen on "Hold On" and "Soul Man," whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Despite high demand for seats, there were pockets of empty ones scattered throughout the 3,300-seat arena Friday night due to weather conditions that were downright arctic.
"I don't know how you got here, but I'm glad you did," Springsteen said.