Tonight’s show in Naples featured the first solo-acoustic “Thunder Road” of the tour, in the closing spot, for a post-“Twist and Shout” bonus for the crowd.
The performances of “Thunder Road” this tour have been generally excellent, and Bruce has noticeably become more free about allowing and encouraging the crowd to sing along. Tonight, at the end of the show, he quite literally relies upon the crowd to carry the song, and it was indeed an outstanding performance, from both Bruce and the audience.
“Thunder Road” has occasionally been used as the closing song of shows before, including the 2002 European leg of the Rising tour. A solo-acoustic performance to end the show is a relatively new development, however, and something that Bruce has used at some of the private (fundraising benefits for his childrens’ schools) and charity (the Light of Day performances) shows that he’s done in recent years. This was the first time it’s been done at an E Street Band show, however.
It also appears that encouraging the crowd-singalong to “Thunder Road” at the end of the show may well have been Bruce’s tip of his hat to his last concert in Naples, on May 22, 1997, at the very end of the Ghost of Tom Joad tour. With a large crowd assembled below the theater singing “O Sole Mio,” Bruce takes a curtain call on the second-floor balcony, and then emerges with guitar, harmonica and Kevin Buell in tow, holding a mostly-unnecessary lyric sheet. The video below tells the rest of the story; notably, the only words that one can actually hear from Bruce are “The screen door slams…” before the crowd takes over.