February 03, 1999 12:00 AM

Looking relaxed and fit after his 17-city European tour, Bruce Springsteen kicked off his first U.S. tour in 11 years with the E Street Band before thousands of fans at New Jersey’s Continental Arena. The Freehold native is performing 15 sold-out concerts in his home state before hitting other cities across the nation. It’s the first time Springsteen and his band have traveled the U.S. since a 1988 tour for Amnesty International.

  • On Thursday Springsteen declared, “Good evening, New Jersey,” and then launched into “My Love Will Not Let You Down,” a song released late last year. The Boss quickly dove into old tunes that brought 20,000 fans to their feet. “It took less than 10 minutes for him to plant the flag exactly where it flew during the years when he was setting the bar for all rock shows,” said New York Daily News rock critic David Hinckley.

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