It’s easy to be both enamored of Bruce Springsteen and vaguely cynical about his sprawling, highly staged concerts: the emotional eruptions, the acted-out collapses from sheer exhaustion, the dramatic rises in time for the encore. But Springsteen gets credit for understanding how to make things personal — for his audience members, and his host cities. Springsteen might represent New Jersey, but he has a relationship with Boston, too; out of admiration for activist Lenny Zakim, he played an emotional renditon of “Thunder Road,” in 2002, at the dedication of the Zakim Bridge. For a rocker who guards his endorsements closely, Springsteen clearly knows when to make them count.
And in his sold-out Fenway Park concerts this week, Springsteen demonstrated a particular knowledge and affection for Boston, which went beyond apologizing for mentioning the New York Giants in the middle of the song “Wrecking Ball.” Springsteen asked for a spotlight to shine on the Pesky Pole, in memory of Red Sox great Johnny Pesky. He played through a driving rain. He might do this kind of thing in every city, but he certainly has Boston’s number.