New Orleans, LA - Tens of thousands of people packed the Fair Grounds to watch Bruce Springsteen close out the first weekend off Jazz Fest 2012.
The Boss put on a two and a half hour show closing out what some already believe is going to be a record breaking Jazz Fest. Springsteen opened the show with "Badlands" from his "Darkness on the Edge of Town" album then moved into the Hurricane Katrina inspired song "We Take Care of Our Own" from his new album "Wrecking Ball."
"I'm here from Orlando Florida for my 18th Jazz Fest, and I'm having a great time," said festival goer Diane Holmes.
"And once you've been to Jazz Fest, you don't want to go, you have to go," said festival goer Ruth Prochnow.
Fans began staking out spots when the fair grounds opened at 11:00 this morning, rushing from the entrance gates to spread blankets and set up chairs as close to the stage as possible.
Springsteen last played at Jazz Fest in 2006 during an emotionally charged performance, just eight months after Hurricane Katrina. Springsteen talked about how that show stuck with him for a long time and he made sure this show had its own New Orleans flavor. Dr. John was invited to perform with the E. Street Band on "Something You Got."
Springsteen reached back to that 2006 show to break out rousing versions of "O Mary Don't You Weep" and "Pay Me My Money Down" from the Seeger Sessions CD. The Boss was in his usual rare form as he crowd surfed, let a fan sing part of a song and danced with the crowd. As the sun set on the first weekend of Jazz Fest, Bruce brought the show to a rousing end. He finished strong as he broke out "Born to Run", "Dancing in the Dark, "Rocky Ground" and the "Saints Come Marching In". The Final song "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out" included a well timed salute to recently deceased Clarence Clemons.
Locals say it's the food, the rhythms, and hospitality of the people, that draw thousands from across the world each year.
"You take the jazz, you take the funk, all of it, it's the rhythm that can't even be taught from a theoretical musical standpoint or level, you just have to feel it, it just has to come from you," said a festival goer.
"I think it's unique because you're able to get all the cultures that we have here, you get the second line parades, you get the Mardi Gras Indians, you get Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, and then you have all this other music from other places," said Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews.
Trombone Shorty says he's preparing for another packed weekend of performances.
"As long as I get to play at home, and eat all this great food, I mean, there's no other place I'd rather be at this time, than here at the Jazz Festival," said Trombone Shorty.
"There's no other city in the world like this but us," said Jerome "DJ Jubilee" Temple.
"I mean, that's what's so great about it, I've had a chance to talk to Aaron Neville, all the big guys, you know, and they're all here, they're here to be with us, they love performing at this venue," said festival goer, Ruth Prochnow.
The second weekend of Jazz Fest 2012 includes performances by Esperanza Spalding, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Better than Ezra, and Ne-Yo.