Boss under a night sky

Toronto Star, 2003-09-11, by: Vit Wagner
"They got the roof open," Bruce Springsteen said, beaming broadly last night as he gazed up at the stars through a gaping SkyDome. "That will keep us from having to blow it off."

The legendary rocker and his E Street compatriots then proceeded ? appropriately enough, under the circumstances ? to launch into "Empty Sky," one of several selections from last year's The Rising.

Maybe Springsteen didn't know that last night was the first time that an open-air concert had ever been held in the stadium's 14-year history. And, in historical terms, maybe it didn't rank with last week's Boston appearance, when he gave the first-ever rock show in fabled Fenway Park.

But it was pretty darned great, all the same.

Springsteen, paying his second visit to Toronto in less than a year, had opened the show a half dozen songs earlier with an emotionally charged cover of Warren Zevon's "My Ride's Here," offered up as a tribute to the recently deceased songwriter. When the band moved on to "The Rising," the song's theme of resurrection took on an added dimension.

Barely two weeks shy of his 54th birthday, Springsteen more closely resembled a performer chafing at the bit after a long layoff than someone who has been on the road non-stop for the past 13 months.

Even the customary introduction of his eight accompanists, including singer/spouse Patty Scialfa, guitarists Nils Lofgren and Steven Van Zandt, and sax man Clarence Clemons, was imbued with more than the usual amount of evangelical fervour. Not an ounce of energy was held back from "Badlands," "Because The Night," "Jungleland" or any of the set's other unbridled offerings.

And, on top of it all, SkyDome never sounded better. It was as if the much-maligned mausoleum had experienced a rejuvenation of its own.



2003-09-10 Skydome, Toronto, Canada