TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The boss is back at Amalie Arena. Bruce Springsteen kicked off his 2023 E Street Band tour to a packed house on Wednesday. For many of the fans, it felt like a true homecoming after COVID-19.
“It’s the greatest live rock and roll show,” said Jef Cohen. “In the history of live rock and roll.”
Fans of Springsteen, like Toronto, Canada resident Jef Cohen, will be the first to admit how much he loves the band.
“For me, this is kind of my religion,” Cohen explained. “Maybe a little cultish, maybe a little weird.”
Cohen said this is his 259th Springsteen show — he puts the fan in fanatic.
“To see an artist we haven’t seen since Australia six years ago, or North America for seven years ago,” Cohen gushed. “This kind of marks, in a way, that life has returned to normal and rock has come back.”
But Cohen was second in line for the pit, after Antoinette Switzer.
“It’s a buzz like nothing else in the world,” Switzer said. “It’s like Christmas Eve for us. Being here now is like we’re going to wake up Christmas morning and open up all the boxes and the presents.”
Switzer flew from Ireland for the tour — she started the line more than 24 hours before the show.
“I’ve been everywhere to see Bruce,” Switzer said. “I was at his very last show in Auckland, New Zealand, in 2017 in February. So I was at the last E Street Band show, so I couldn’t not come to the first E Street Band show.”
Other fans have been following Springsteen since New Jersey.
“Just to be here on opening night,” said Laura Gorman. “That’s priceless.”
Gorman is originally from Asbury Park, where Springsteen got his start.
“Springsteen has been such a big part of life and I’m just going to continue on as long as he does,” said Gorman. “So I’m a fan that, wherever he goes, I’m going to try and go.”
Over the next week, Springsteen will be stopping in Orlando and Hollywood right now. He’s scheduled his world tour through July.