Air Canada Centre, Toronto - May 7, 2009
Sun Media , 2009-05-08
By Jane Stevenson
Bruce Springsteen?s latest album, Working on A Dream, could just be shortened to Working.
The 59-year-old New Jersey rocker hasn?t stopped moving since the beginning of the year when he released his latest disc after winning a best-song Golden Globe for The Wrestler and opening the We Are One Obama Inaugural bash in front of 400,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial.
And that was just January.
In February, Springsteen and the E Street Band performed at the Super Bowl halftime show and in April they kicked off the Working On A Dream tour, which pulled into the Air Canada Centre Thursday night in front of a boisterous, sold-out crowd.
The Boss, looking lean and mean in a tight black shirt, black vest and jeans, kicked off the festivities on an upbeat, rowdy note with his classic, Badlands, with the house lights on the audience jumping to its feet to sing along.
?Is there anybody alive out there, Toronto?? The Boss repeated several times as Badlands was winding down.
From there, the E-Streeters ? minus Springsteen?s wife, acoustic guitar player and backup singer Patti Scialfa, who was still recovering from some bruising after falling off her horse ? took the audience through a nearly three-hour tour of his vast, 35-year catalogue.
Truthfully, the concert wouldn?t hit the same high note as Badlands again until the very end of the night, during the electrifying and joyous Born To Run, Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) and Glory Days, with all the house lights
up again, and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out.
Still, some new songs from Working On A Dream were dutifully inserted into the mix, beginning with Outlaw Pete, accompanied by fiddle courtesy of Soozie Tyrell, with Springsteen donning a black cowboy hat at one point.
Also early in the show came the new album?s title track, which seemed to finally rile Springsteen up to his passionate preacher mode of past shows.
?We?re so glad to be here in your beautiful city tonight,? said the Boss, who often wandered out onto a series of smaller platforms that took him closer to fans.
?And we?ve come across the border to rock the house. But we ain?t just hear tonight to rock the house, we?re here tonight to build a house ? a house of love, a house of faith, a house of joy, a house of sexual healing. We?ve got
all the tunes we need right here on this stage, but we can?t do it by ourselves. The mighty E Street band is here tonight to bring the music but Toronto we we need you to bring the noise!?
At this point, Springsteen started frantically waving his hands over his head to encourage screaming, not that the audience really needed any encouragement.
The familiarity of Clarence (Big Man) Clemons on sax, Little Steven Van Zandt on lead guitar, Nils Lofgren on guitar and pedal steel guitar and drummer Max Weinberg makes a Springsteen concert almost like one big, happy family reunion.
Still, as hard as he?s been working, it hasn?t been all roses for Springsteen.
His tour was hit by the TicketMaster selling controversy this year, he was named in a lawsuit as the other man in a divorce filing, which he has strongly denied, and last year he lost his long-time organ and accordion player, Danny Federici, to cancer.
Still, Springsteen?s own spectacular showmanship was in pretty good form on Thursday night, whether he was climbing on top of Roy Bittan?s piano during Raise Your Hand or gathering placards from the crowd with song requests on
them (they ended up doing The E Street Shuffle, Prove It All Night, Louie, Louie and Racing In The Street).
Other song highlights were She?s The One, Johnny 99 ? with Springsteen and Van Zandt comically walking across the stage together joined at the backside ? Waitin? On A Sunny Day, which saw the Boss offer up his microphone to the
crowd, The Promised Land, the new song Kingdom Of Days, which Springsteen dedicated to his wife, Radio Nowhere, Lonesome Days, the gospel-like Hard Times and the Celtic-infused American Land.
Lofgren also shook the rafters with his outstanding guitar playing during The Ghost Of Tom Joad while Bittan?s piano playing punctuated Racing In The Street.