"Bruce is a guiding light... in this s--ty world," said actor Aaron Phagura.
Springsteen walked the red carpet with his wife, Patti Scialfa, and stopped to take a photo with stars Viveik Kaira and Aaron Phagura, writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha, and screenwriter/author Sarfraz Manzoor, whose story is the basis of the film.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was seated inside the theatre with 1,500 guests to screen the movie, which is set for release on Aug. 16. The film follows a Pakistani-British teenager and his life-changing journey through Springsteen’s music.
“It was so cool watching it with Bruce,” Chadha said to the audience. “We want the whole world to understand the music and the words of Bruce Springsteen. … The reason why I wanted to make this film is because of what is happening in the world. … We hope that not only people will enjoy the film, but people can learn from it.”
Manzoor was equally overwhelmed, having first come to Asbury Park in 1990 as a teenager.
“Now, 29 years later, to be inside Convention Hall and having the story of my life told with the man who shaped it is a mind blowing experience,” he said. “One of the messages of the film is that great music, great words don’t recognize race or religion or nationality.”
Added Phagura: “Bruce is a guiding light… in this s–ty world!”
Afterwards, Springsteen strapped on a guitar for an after-party jam with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, guitarist Bobby Bandiera and Scialfa on the microphone. The celebratory set included the songs “Talk To Me,” the Wilson Pickett hit, “634-5789,” “Sherry Darling” (from “The River”) and “Having a Party.”
“We had an amazing reception in Sundance, that actually kicked it all off, it did amazing in London where we had the premiere last week, and it’s been fantastic,” producer Jane Barclay told Variety. “Now, we get to see what happens when a big audience gets to see it [tonight].”
The audience, which included members of various Springsteen fan groups (many wearing specially designed “Spring-Nuts” fan shirts), vocally appreciated the many New Jersey references, especially a sequence involving a pilgrimage to Monmouth College (now a University) in Long Branch and a scene featuring iconic ice cream parlor Jersey Freeze, a popular subject of Springsteen’s onstage banter.
Also in attendance was Jarod Clemons, son of the late Clarence Clemons, a longtime member of the E Street Band. “I guarantee he would have loved it,” he said of his father. “He would have been here front row center.”
The soundtrack to “Blinded By The Light,” which features 12 Springsteen songs, will be released tomorrow (Aug. 9).