BRUCE Springsteen once let it be known - to President Obama, no less - that whenever he straps on his guitar and steps out onto a stage his mantra is, 'I'm gonna give my best to bring out the best in you'.

"I believe", Springsteen added, "that I can inspire you through hard work, the deep development of a philosophy, and the incorporation of spirituality ..." Heady stuff, no doubt, but it emphatically struck a chord with the vast audience that filed out of Murrayfield last night after an epic, three-hour long concert by Springsteen and the E Street Band. The buzz was palpable.

One of the many captivating things about the 73-year-old is his remarkable rapport with the audience. Not for him an untouchable, remote stance high up on a stage. Time and again he made his way down a flight of steps to engage with the fans near the front.

He gave away more than one harmonica; he kissed one fan, accepted a copy of a dissertation ('Brilliant Disguises: An Analysis of Masculinity Through the Works and Life of Bruce Springsteen') from one Nathan Collett, and as he made his way along the front he often reached out to touch a sea of outstretched hands. Lucky them, you thought - they'll remember that moment for years to come. Springsteen has that effect on people.

Nathan Collett on his Springsteen dissertation

The concert, part of his world tour, had a setlist that featured songs from every part of his career, from Kitty's Back (taken from his 1973 album, The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle) to a quite outstanding Nightshift, a stand-out track from last year's soul covers album, Only The Strong Survive.

Bruce Springsteen in Edinburgh 1981: Playhouse nights

Springsteen, a master showman, is adept at changing the mood of a show in an instant. He knows how to entertain the audience - doing showband-style dance steps with the E Street Horns; gurning into the camera with guitarist Steven Van Zandt; suddenly ripping his shirt open to expose his chest; folding his arms and raising a mock eyebrow when the audience prematurely applauded at the end of one song; bringing the sound level down to a prolonged whisper before raising it again to fever pitch.

Review: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 2016

But then he introduced a sombre note with a prolonged spoken introduction to his acoustic song, Last Man Standing, in which he recalled George Theiss, a schoolfriend of his, who knocked on his door one day in 1965 and invited Springsteen to join his rock'n'roll band, The Castiles. It was the beginning of "the greatest adventure of my young life", Springsteen said. The band lasted for three years - 1965, 1966, 1967, "an explosive time in American history".

Theiss died of cancer a few years ago, but Springsteen has never forgotten him. "At 15, it's all tomorrow's", he added. "At 73, it's a lot of goodbyes". You have to seize the moment and make the most of every day, was the message.

The Herald: Springsteen and, behind him, Steve Van ZandtSpringsteen and, behind him, Steve Van Zandt (Image: Jane Barlow/ PA Wire)

An awareness of mortality runs through more than a few of Springsteen's recent songs. One later number at Murrayfield, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, was accompanied by pictures of two departed E Street Band colleagues - organist Danny Federici, who played with Springsteen for 40 years, and the brilliant saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Bruce's long-standing foil.

Watching Springsteen and his band at work, it was difficult not to be reminded of something that he said ten years ago, on the occasion of his Wrecking Ball tour: "Music is magic. It's the real thing. Music is not a trick. What that creation is, on a nightly basis, is what happens when you and your audience meet. You have to pull something out of the air every night that doesn't exist until you do it in concert". Whatever that 'something' is, Springsteen effortlessly brings it to life.

The Murrayfield show ended energetically - Because The Night, She's The One, Wrecking Ball, The Rising, Badlands, Thunder Road, the 52,000 fans yelling themselves hoarse, punching the air, joy etched indelibly on their faces when they caught sight of themselves on the big screens. Then the encores began, starting with the anthemic Born in the USA, and Born to Run. If ever a song could have lifted the roof off an open-air stadium, so to speak, it was the latter one.

Others followed, intoxicatingly, one home-run after another: Bobby Jean, Glory Days, Dancing in the Dark (one fan held up a sign asking, 'Can I be your Courteney Cox?'), and Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out. Still Springsteen wasn't finished, and shortly before 10pm he returned to put on his acoustic guitar to deliver one final, exquisite, heartfelt song, I'll See You in My Dreams, from Letter to You, his 2020 album that reunited him with the E Street Band.

And with that, with a last wave and a last smile, he was finally gone. It had been a remarkable, energetic, irrepressible, euphoric, soulful, thought-provoking three hours. More than anything, Springsteen had certainly given of his best, as he always does.