On February 2nd, 2016 I drove to Toronto to see the mighty Bruce Springsteen at the Air Canada Centre. It was a quick in-and-out mission utilizing a free hotel stay on points at a dingy EconoLodge downtown, but one thing I’ve learned is to never, ever miss a Bruce Springsteen concert.
There are just not enough things in this world of ours that actually lives up to the hype. The Boss lives up to the hype. He should be rewarded for doing so and I should be rewarded for recognizing the fact, so like I say, every time he comes near I give Springsteen’s ticket people some of my money and I experience the unbridled joy of his invariably triumphant performances.
This time he was touring The River, which just happens to be my favourite Springsteen album. He started into it almost straight away, and it was brilliant. The album took up almost half the show and of course the highlight was the title track. I just love The River, it’s such an all-encompassing story written up in a handful of perfect, simple verses. The River is the epitome of the Springsteen vantage point; a plainly worded vivid illustration of growing up American wrapped in the honest syrup of bittersweet nostalgia. A true ballad for the working man played by the hardest working performer in the business.
And what a band he has. From my vantage point beside and slightly behind stage left the front line of five guitar players pounding on their instruments and standing rock-solid facing the sold-out crowd looked exactly like the wall of sound it was. These players are all so good as individuals and yet they all hold back from adding fills and trills in a thousand places and instead create a chord-thumping force that keeps the crowd on their feet for three and-a-half hours straight. They are like bulls in the pen just waiting to get released in the rodeo; there is so much pent-up musical power and energy that when these musical monsters finally get released – like when Nils Lofgren gets his one solo of the night for example – they bust out of the gate with an unrelenting burst of finally-unrestrained force.
After The River album the band played several crowd favourites including Because The Night, Brilliant Disguise, and Thunder Road before Bruce took his obligatory bows and launched into one of his signature encores without even leaving the stage, as is his habit.
Rosalita, Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark…he got the crowd virtually frothing at the mouth when he closed the show with a lights-up danceathon version of The Isley Brothers Shout. It was glorious and it went on absolutely forever. When he somehow found a way to end the song the crowd could not scream loud enough. Bruce and his Band took their final bows and were gone, and still the crowd cheered.
It seemed like everyone was still dancing when we filed out of the arena, or maybe that was just in my head. Back at the EconoLodge over nightcaps all I could say was, “Never miss a Springsteen show”.
Never miss a Springsteen show.