Talk about perfect timing... At the end of the month that celebrates age and creativity in Ireland we get a visit from the 66-year-old who proves that our fretting about the numbers is the biggest racket of them all. On Friday, Bruce Springsteen made sure that the eyewitness testimony from Croke Park was exactly the same as at every other date on this tour: another decade of three-hours-and-then-some shows looks well in the tank. Right from the opening double whammy of Darkness on the Edge of Town and Badlands it really felt like you'd done the dirt on him by opting for a seat, and the longer this gig went on the less you needed one. It's usually the other way 'round.
That said, even the greatest have their work cut out with daylight starts in stadiums and, sure enough, twenty past seven felt like 40 minutes too early to be seeing anyone bar the roadies onstage. But once the setlist went into double digits, the drama and devotion - and the dread of that 11 o'clock curfew - cranked all the way up. Hungry Heart was the right song at exactly the right time. Everything else that followed felt the same.
The River equalled the chills it gave so many on MT USA all those years ago; The Promised Land was, at last, in the most fitting of Irish venues and Waitin' on a Sunny Day included the sweetest of singalongs - and selfies - with a kid from the crowd who made everyone feel at least another 10 years younger.
The very grown-up Tougher than the Rest and Because the Night immediately followed and were just as spine-tingling among 80,000 as they are when experienced with just one other - or alone.
The first encore was beautifully bookended by Jungleland and Bobby Jean with Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and a cover of the Isley Brothers' Shout in between. The spectacle of seeing almost the whole place dancing and pogo-ing to Shout was equal to anything served up on Jones Road on Sundays in September.
As the E Street Band trooped off, the man himself stayed for a pin-drop solo performance of This Hard Land - that line about staying hungry as much his secret as the message to take home. With the final chords came the realisation that, really, it's only half time and after a Saturday to recharge the batteries he and the crowd are in for some Sunday showdown. The 11pm cut-off will be well and truly tested.