ASBURY PARK, N.J. - Bruce Springsteen was back in familiar territory with a rehearsal show Monday night in the city that has become known worldwide through his songs.
The show at the oceanfront Convention Hall was the first of two benefit rehearsals for Springsteen and the E Street Band, who are about to embark on their first tour together in four years. They will also play Tuesday night, and a third rehearsal concert has been added for Friday at Continenta; Airlines Arena in East Rutherford.
Springsteen and the band opened up with "Radio Nowhere," a song from their new album.
"We're going to run through some things, some new things, some old things. There may be some mistakes — but I doubt it," Springsteen told the crowd.
Asbury Park and the boardwalk where the Convention Hall is located have been featured prominently in the New Jersey native's work. His first album was titled "Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.," and the boardwalk Casino was the scene of the title track video for his 1987 "Tunnel of Love" album. Blocks away is the Stone Pony nightclub where Springsteen has performed numerous times.
Fans young and old gathered for hours before the show in warm sunshine on the boardwalk outside the hall.
"I think it's rare that you get any musician who appeals to so many generations," said Dara Webster, 34, of Westport, Conn. She was there with her 63-year-old mother, Maida Webster.
The elder Webster, a retired social worker from New Canaan, Conn., was attending her 20th Springsteen show. "I think he speaks from the heart," Maida Webster said. "He's down to earth."
Those without tickets, which cost $100, hoped to be included in the group of 100 people traditionally given last-minute admission. Standing among 300 hopefuls, Kevin Statesir, 52, a nightclub owner from Burlington, Vt., said he wasn't optimistic.
The hall isn't far from the clubs — many now closed — where Springsteen and the E Street Band rose to fame in the 1970s. Springsteen has used Convention Hall for other pre-tour rehearsals.
A native of nearby Freehold, the 58-year-old rocker still lives in Monmouth County.
Springsteen and the band are to begin a tour in support of their new album, "Magic," which is due out Oct. 2. The tour opens with a show in Hartford, Conn., that night.
Springsteen will be back at the Continental Airlines Arena Oct. 9-10, and is scheduled to perform Oct. 17-18 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"Magic" is the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's first album with his longtime New Jersey mates since the Sept. 11-inspired "The Rising" in 2002. Their 15-month tour in support of the album has sold out stadiums and arenas around the globe.
Aside from the atmospheric title track, "Magic" returns Springsteen to rock 'n' roll, and all 11 songs are new. He released a solo acoustic effort, "Devils & Dust," in 2005 and the folk-inspired "The Seeger Sessions" last year.
"Magic" features guitarists Steve Van Zandt and Nils Lofgren, bassist Garry Tallent, drummer Max Weinberg, keyboardists Danny Federici and Roy Bittan, "Big Man" Clarence Clemons on saxophone, violinist Soozie Tyrell and vocalist Patti Scialfa, Springsteen's wife.