Bruce broke it in

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Philadelphia has always had a special connection with Bruce Springsteen. We were the first major market (sorry, New York) to air The Boss and just flat out embrace Springsteen as one of our own.

So who better to christen the City of Brotherly Love’s new football stadium, Lincoln Financial Field, than Springsteen? The initial concert, held Aug. 8 at the Linc, was the first of three sold-out shows at the Eagles’ swanky digs.

Springsteen and the E Street Band, ever mindful of locale, hit the stage to the strains of the Orlons’ 1963 hit South Street. The Promised Land kicked off the two-hour-and-45-minute show.

Springsteen, who normally is comfortable in black, sported a lime-green shirt and noted that he always wears that top in Philly. He was in playful spirits as was the crowd — which experienced, with the exception of a few drops, a relatively dry show.

The show-stopper was a full-band electric version of Lost in the Flood, a first for The Rising tour. Prior versions were of the stripped-down take, which featured Springsteen solo behind the piano. Sherry Darling, Something in the Night and Night shook up the set and delighted the hardcore fans among the 50,000 in attendance.

Speaking of the crowd, the fans who packed the Linc failed to match the fervor exuded at the first few Giants Stadium shows. That’s notable because, as far as Springsteen is concerned, Philly followers are normally as boisterous as the Giants’ infamous football fanatics.

However, certain Springsteen tunes — Born to Run, Rosalita, which has become a staple in the stadium show set, and Badlands — induced a roar that could be heard across the parking lot, where Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera were entertaining the progeny of Springsteen fans at the Wachovia Center.

No, Timberlake — who recently joined the Flaming Lips onstage — didn’t pop up on the Linc’s stage for a cameo. Bruce and the band didn’t need any help as they steamrolled through their set. What’s most impressive is how the tracks from The Rising become even more resonant as the tour rolls along. A thread connects the early material to the new tunes. It seemed perfectly natural when Lost in the Flood segued to Into the Fire.

Springsteen and the E Street Band are at the height of their power. The Rising tour shouldn’t have an expiration date unless there are plans to hit the studio.

About the Linc, job well done. It’s a wonderful football palace and a massive improvement — and not just for those into gridiron action. As far as concerts go, it’s a huge upgrade over the Vet. The sound and sight lines are much better at the Linc.