He came like a wrecking ball and brought the house down.
It was showtime at the Apollo all right as Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band rocked the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, to commemorate SiriusXM Radio's 10th anniversary.
The Boss serenaded a star-studded crowd that included Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, and Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan for his first official live show without his beloved saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
But the Big Man wasn't forgotten…
When Springsteen got to "My City of Ruins" early in the show, he asked the crowd, "Are we missing anybody?"
"That's right. We're missing a few," he replied, a subtle reminder of the void left by Clemons' death last June from complications of a stroke at the age of 69 as well as that left by keyboardist Danny Federici, who died of cancer in 2008.
"But the only thing I can guarantee tonight is that if you're here, and we're here, then they're here," the "Glory Days" singer said.
As Clemons is irreplaceable, Springsteen didn't hire one person to fill the role but instead added an entire brass section, though in tribute to his late friend and to sort of keep it in the family, the troubadour brought on board Clemons' nephew, Jake, to play some of his uncle's biggest solos.
The special gig for SiriusXM—which by the way has a channel called E Street Radio dedicated solely to New Jersey's Favorite Son—was a preview of what fans can look forward to when Springsteen and company launch their upcoming world tour in Atlanta on March 18.
The trek is in support of their new album, appropriately titled Wrecking Ball, and based on tonight's 18-song set list, there was plenty of shakin' goin' on.
Bruce and the band kicked things off with the album's first single, the anthemic "We Take Care of Our Own," and peppered their performance with other new tracks including "Shackled and Drawn," "Wrecking Ball," "Death to My Hometown" and "Rocky Ground."
But this being the legendary Apollo, where artists such as Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin and James Brown got their start, Springsteen paid proper respects with a cover of Smokey Robinson's soul classic "The Way You Do the Things You Do," which saw Springsteen take to the balcony and nearly hang from the rafters (starts at 7:00 in the video above). Not bad for a 62-year-old!
Full of boundless energy, he also hurled himself into the orchestra, where he climbed on top of a stunned Stiller (see video above) to serenade Douglas, Zeta-Jones and the rest of the celeb-filled audience with a rousing rendition of "Waitin' on a Sunny Day."
"I didn't expect that. He was incredible. Really just amazing," Stiller told E! News after the show.
Asked what his favorite song of the night was, longtime Springsteen devotee Hanks instead recalled a song Bruce performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony a few years ago, the 10-minute epic that concludes his classic 1975 album Born to Run.
"He played "Jungleland" and it was note perfect," mused Hanks. "Pretty hard to beat that!"
Springsteen did perform such gems, however, as "The E Street Shuffle," "My City of Ruins," "The Rising" and "Thunder Road." He and the band closed out the show with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out."
Among the other celebs in attendance: writer-director Nora Ephron, tennis legend John McEnroe, NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams, former L.A. Lakers coach Pat Reilly, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and music icon Harry Belafonte.
Here's the complete setlist: