Bruce Rocks Dublin

BRUCE Springsteen kicked off his summer European tour in Dublin's RDS last week with three sold-out shows thrilling more than 110,000 fans, and naturally you won't read a bad review anywhere.

The Irish, simply put, adore New Jersey's favorite son, and the feeling is more than mutual. The Boss has played eight shows in Ireland in the past 18 months, and recorded his live album the Seeger Sessions at the old Point theater in Dublin a couple of years back.

He was in fine form at the RDS, running through some of his classic songs and new ones from his latest CD Magic. The title track he dedicated - well, perhaps dedicated isn't the right word - to outgoing President George W. Bush. "Here's to the end of eight years of mismanagement," he said, and the crowd roared.

Springsteen, who played for 2 1/2 hours, apologized for his flame-haired wife Patti Scialfa's absence from his line-up - she's usually on hand to play guitar. One of his children was graduating from high school, and naturally one parent had to be on hand to witness the occasion.

"She's taking the cookies out of the oven as we speak, and the Guinness out of the fridge," he joked.

Springsteen, according to a very (very!) well placed source, couldn't be a nicer fellow. Said source happened to be checking into the Merrion Hotel last Wednesday morning as the same time as the Boss, and they struck up a most pleasant conversation in which Springsteen chatted about his own Irish roots, and his love for Ireland.

The lovely Merrion is his home away from home every time he visits, and his fans are well in on the secret. Hundreds of them crowded outside the place every night during his five-night stay hoping for a glance.

One Irishman did get a private meeting with Bruce, though. His name? Yup, you guessed it. Bono. They enjoyed some drinks in the Merrion after one of the shows.

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