Springsteen's short, full-steam-ahead set for Clinton and Obama

Bruce Springsteen plays for supporters at the rally for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia, Monday, November 7, 2016.

When Bruce Springsteen did the first of his two shows at Citizens Bank Park in South Philadelphia in September, he played for over four hours, his longest show ever on U.S. soil.

On Monday night before 20,000 people, with Independence Hall in his sights, he played a three-song set that might have been the shortest show of his career.

Rather than a marathon headlining set, this was a mini-performance with Springsteen in the rare role of a support act, opening for President Obama and Hillary Clinton, the woman who members of the massive crowd gathered dearly hoped will succeed him.

Following a four-song set by his fellow Jersey rocker Jon Bon Jovi, which included a cover of the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun" and his own "Livin' on a Prayer" and "Who Says You Can't Go Home," Springsteen took the stage shortly after 8 p.m.

Armed with only an acoustic guitar, the Boss opened with a song that he didn't perform during his nearly eight hours on stage in South Philadelphia for his "The River" tour.

But instead of foot-to-the-floor escapism, this version of "Thunder Road" was quiet and whispery, slowly building to its campaign-slogan-worthy "we're pulling out of here to win" conclusion.

Springsteen delivered prepared remarks in praise of Clinton and her inclusive "vision of America that is essential to sustain," and in opposition to Trump, whose campaign, the musician promised, "is going down."

What followed, though, was not "I'm Going Down" but "Long Walk Home," a deep cut from the 2006 album Magic that describes an Iraq War veteran's struggle to find his place in his hometown after fighting for his country.

Springsteen introduced it as "a prayer for after the election" and sang it as a song about the hard work of healing after a violently contentious election year: "Here everybody has a neighbor, everybody has a friend / everybody has a reason to begin again."

After that, there was only "Dancing in the Dark," a crowd-pleasing pop hit that didn't put its best foot forward with only an acoustic guitar behind it.

"Promised Land" would have been nice, but, performing in his Philadelphia stronghold, Springsteen - having done his job of ensuring that a giant crowd was assembled in support of the candidate - seemed reticent to go into full-on "Bruuuuuuce!" mode and risk stealing the spotlight from the headliners.