The last U.S. show of the 2012 Wrecking Ball tour was in Glendale, Arizona (outside of Phoenix) and started with a surprise: an acoustic version of the Working on a Dream track “Surprise, Surprise,” a dedication to a fan down front, with Bruce commenting that “I practiced this backstage just for you!”

From there, things were off and running for an intense start to the show, as the houselights came up and the band kicked in to “No Surrender.” Bruce seemed to craft this show with both his new fans and his diehards in mind.  He amazed the first-timers as he crowd-surfed during a performance of “Hungry Heart” and followed that up with an intense guitar solo during the legendary “1978 introduction” to “Prove It All Night.”

Springsteen also remembered his history in Phoenix, a city that was an early supporter of the E Street Band and the place where he performed his first-ever arena show.  Of course, Bruce remembered it “back when this was just a town!” and recalled that “I used to come here when a tour was over and stay at the Holiday Inn by the airport. I’d get a room on the second floor and look out over Camelback Mountain.”

When it came time for sign requests, Bruce took time to acknowledge that there were many people in the audience who had been following the tour: “There are fans, and there are stalkers — you’re past that,” he said, and dedicated the next song to them: “Be True,” featuring a warm sax solo from Ed Manion.

Bringing things full circle at the end of the 2012 tour was the reappearance of the “Apollo Medley,” as “The Way You Do The Things You Do” and “634-5789” came back to the set.  Phoenix-area resident Sam Moore was in the house, and the song was dedicated to him. As Bruce circled the floor during “634-5789,” he found Sam sitting at the side of the stage and handed him the microphone to sing several lines of the song.

The encore started with one final request granted, as Bruce sat down at the piano for a special version of “Incident on 57th Street,” in particularly strong voice.  The houselights came back up for “Born to Run,” Garland Jeffreys guested on “Santa Claus is comin’ to town,” and for the final song of the night, Clarence Clemons’ son Jared joined in on percussion for “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out,” standing on the horn riser next to his cousin Jake.

The band may have waved goodbye as they left their final U.S. show of the tour, but with concerts already announced for 2013 in Australia, Europe and South America — as well as two more shows this year, in Mexico City and at Madison Square Garden for 12.12.12 — it won’t be long at all before we see Bruce and the E Street Band on stage again.

— Glenn Radecki and Caryn Rose, backstreets.com