Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band @ Air Canada Centre, Oct. 15

Wow. Now that’s a rock show. I shouldn’t have expected any less, but somehow I wasn’t prepared for the full-on, two-barrelled onslaught that Bruce and his band (hello Clarence! hello Little Stevie!) give their fans night after night on tour. I now understand why some have seen him dozens of times: there’s no concert like a Bruce Springsteen concert and nothing nearly as satisfying. Relentless, powerful, passionate, stirring, and — with Bruce constantly waving his hands to encourage the crowd to join in — as close to a religious experience as rock music ever gets.
     It was hard not to compare this show with The Police concert I attended a couple of months back. We were sitting at about the same spot, paid about the same price, and had about as much expectation. But the contrast could not be any starker. Sting and the boys’ passionless, careless performance left us feeling cynical and used; last night was cathartic and inspiring. I may be about 30 years late in saying this, but I saw rock-and-roll’s future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.
     Most impressive was his show’s pace: slower songs, mixed with megahits (no surprise: “Born to Run”; big surprise: “Dancing in the Dark”); classics interspersed with songs from his latest CD, Magic; and the stand-up-and-yell tunes the fans paid big bucks to hear (including a fantastic, rollicking version of “Darlington County”) mixed with the little-known numbers that Bruce wanted us to hear (like Celtic jam “American Land,” the show’s joyous closer).
     If I have any disappointment, it’s that it took me this long to see Bruce and the E Street Band live. It’s a mistake I won’t repeat.

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