The Boss does one hell of a job to leave his overjoyed fans Dancing in the Dark
Bruce Springsteen showed Croke Park just who was the Boss last night.
The rocker exploded onto the stage with his E Street Band just after 7pm in Dublin's north inner city.
There was Darkness on the Edge of Town as Bruce kicked off the first of two Croke Park gigs with the title track of his 1978 album.
As the Republic of Ireland took on the Netherlands at the Aviva Stadium across town, the atmosphere at the home of the GAA was even more electric when the Boss emerged for an epic three-hour concert.
Dublin's North Circular Road was transformed into Thunder Road as 80,000 superfans from across the globe began filing into the northside stadium for the sold-out concert of the year from 5pm.
Gracing the stage just over two hours later, the 67-year-old rock legend joked with his adoring audience: "Hello Dublin! My God there's a lot of you!
"Come on, Dublin - let's hear some noise y'all," he said as he moved about the stage with the strut of a young gun.
"Let's get a Guinness party going."
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his wife Fionnuala, US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley and his wife Dena, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and singer Gavin James were just some of the famous faces who flocked to Croker as the River Tour finally flowed into the capital.
But Springsteen wasn't the only Jersey boy in town after superfan Tom Buonomo and wife Carol jetted all the way from the East Coast home of the icon with "High Hopes" of nabbing tickets for the gig.
He told the Herald: "We flew from New Jersey to Dublin to go to the concert.
"We've seen Bruce more than 200 times, but we've never seen him in Europe. And we've never been to Ireland before so this was a good excuse to visit.
"We only just landed three hours ago," he said.
"Jet lag doesn't matter - it's Bruce!
"We have tickets for Sunday night, but we're hoping to get tickets for tonight too. If not, we're going to sit over there (outside the stadium) and listen to the show."
Elsewhere outside GAA headquarters, eight-year-old Maria Nowacki from Cavan town was looking forward to attending her first concert with her father.
The excited schoolgirl had even borrowed her mum's Darkness on the Edge of Town T-shirt for the occasion.
Dad Robert - originally from Poland - said: "I've been to 10 or 12 Springsteen concerts around the world, but this is Maria's first time to see him.
"She has no choice but to be a Springsteen fan - it's a family tradition.
"My wife wanted to come too, but we have a three-year-old son so one of us had to stay at home," he added.
Despite being born more than a decade after the eponymous 1980 album was released, Natasha Conlon - who travelled from Derry to Dublin with pals Caoimhe Dillon and Laura McPeake for the weekend - revealed she knew every track off by heart.
The 22 year-old said: "Growing up, my brother was a huge fan of Springsteen. So that's how I got into listening to him.
"This will be my third time to see him in the past four years."
Meanwhile Ciara Cormican (30) from Galway said she was happy to splash almost €100 on a standing ticket to see what all the fuss was about. "This will be my first time to see him in concert. My friends were going, so I said I'd just go along as well," she said.
"I wouldn't really class myself as a big fan, but I know most of the songs. He's meant to be unreal live.
"We're staying up for the night so it's kind of a night out as well."
As #TheBoss began trending on Twitter, inside concert-goers weren't disappointed as the musician launched into classics including Badlands, The Ties That Bind and Sherry Darling as part of the mammoth set.
However, some fans also took to the social networks to complain about poor sound in the upper stands.
Ahead of tomorrow night's second show, which also has an 11pm curfew, organisers urged fans to get there when gates open at five.
Aiken promotions' event controller Jim Clarke said: "We always plan to live within curfew, but we equally acknowledge that Bruce Springsteen does a long show.
"So that reinforces the message - get here early and plan your journey and use public transport."
These brace of concerts are unusual in that for the first time, the New Jersey bard is on the road without a new release to promote.
Instead, Bruce is focusing on what he has long believed to be his most underrated LP, 1980's The River.
Released at a difficult phase in his career, when he was creatively and personally adrift and grasping for a new direction, the album is best known for its keening title track.
That rumination on financial and mental ruin will speak to Irish people coming out of seven years of recession.
Bruce brought his loyal band of followers from the confessional charge of The Ties That Bind to the sad lilt of Hungry Heart, his everyman ardour never dimming.
From Hill 16 to the Hogan Stand, the fans revelled in every moment of the performance.
It was the first of a Herculean two-night stand at Croker, which will see Springsteen perform to some 160,000 people. He could probably have tacked on several further shows.
Springsteen remains one of the world's biggest stars, and for everyone in Croke Park it felt as if he was singing his big heart out just for them.