The ideal Boss

Toronto Sun, 2003-09-11, by: Mary Dickie
American rock icon blows the roof off the SkyDome
Seeing Bruce Springsteen play is kind of like witnessing a living, breathing, jumping Mount Rushmore -- he's the American musical establishment with a heart and a conscience, a middle-aged man still playing with his high school friends, seemingly without losing any of his youthful energy or passion. Springsteen brought his 10-piece E Street Band -- which includes his wife Patti Scialfa, guitarists Nils Lofgren and Little Steven Van Zandt and pianist Roy Bittan -- to the open SkyDome on a beautiful moonlit night and masterfully orchestrated its transformation from a sports stadium into a rock-and-roll gospel revival meeting.

They started quietly, playing a lovely, respectful cover of the late Warren Zevon's My Ride's Here and pensive recent songs like Empty Sky and The Rising, from Springsteen's much-lauded, post-9/11 album, and the older The Ties That Bind, accompanied by accordion and violin.

Gradually, though, things began to heat up. During Darlington County, on which the audience joined in on the "sha-la-las," Springsteen went from standing more or less still in front of the mic to hanging upside-down on the mic stand, and running across the front of the stage to slide on his 54-year-old knees.

And things grew steadily more intense as they went through Because The Night, She's The One and Badlands. Springsteen introduced the gospel tent idea during Mary's Place -- a nostalgic remembrance of the days of rock-and-roll dance parties -- by asking, "Are you ready for a pants-dropping, love-making, death-defying, sexifying, mud-wrestling, rock-and-roll exorcism?" and proceeding to rock the house.

But the Boss and co. weren't even close to their peak. Things continued with a note-perfect version of the too rarely performed Jungleland, No Surrender, bits of the old gospel tunes This Train and People Get Ready and a crowd-wide howl at the full moon.

Not surprisingly, the ageless Born To Run was the closing highlight, before a couple of encores that included the anguished My City Of Ruins and Land Of Hope And Dreams and a cheerful romp through Moon Mullican's Seven Nights to Rock. Then as a parting gift, they played the divine Rosalita from the early album The Wild, The Innocent And The E Street Shuffle, and a lively Dancing In The Dark to send the folks home exhausted and happy, with their faith restored.

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2003-09-10 Skydome, Toronto, Canada