Review by: RENE GROSS
I am not a religious person at all, but after leaving Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Monday November 26, I can honestly say that I have become a converted member of the church of Springsteen. Bruce captivated and mesmerized the 18,000 plus audience members that night for just over 3 hours, delivering a highly energetic and lively set while commanding our attention with sermon-like intensity.
I have been to many concerts in my lifetime and have seen a lot of the greats including The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Neil Young etc. etc., but none of them were able to match the raw passion and boundless amount of energy that Springsteen possessed, and none of them were able to evoke the type of emotional response that I had during the evening's festivities. I literally was brought to tears at one point during the show and that is something that rarely happens to me, but is wholly indicative of how powerful this night of music was and how Bruce is able to truly connect with people and convey honest emotion and meaning in his songs. This was a concert for the ages in my book.
The show kicked off with the foot-stomping, gospel-infused Shackled and Drawn from his latest album Wrecking Ball, whereby at one point during the song several of his fellow E Street Band members lined up and did a sort of line dance in unison, eliciting cheers from the sold out crowd.
He then moved on to do a couple of songs from his 1980 album The River, Out in the Street and Hungry Heart. During Hungry Heart he went out into the middle of the crowd and made his way back by crowd surfing atop a sea of outstretched arms, never once losing timing of the song and singing continuously the whole way back to the stage.
From there he moved into three more songs from Wrecking Ball which were rousing rockers and really showcased the incredible musicianship of the E Street Band. Everyone was on their feet and clearly having a blast during these raucous numbers.
Next came the point in the evening where things got emotional, at least for me. He expressed his heartfelt feelings on the tragedy that befell his home state of New Jersey recently and the terrible suffering that has been endured and dedicated the next song to everyone who has felt any sort of loss or is missing a loved one. "This is from our ghosts to your ghosts", he said before doing My City of Ruins. I instantly thought of my dad, who would have just celebrated his birthday and is no longer with me and I just wished that he could still be here to share this moment together. Bruce held us in the palm of his hand and commanded the stage like a preacher on the pulpit as he repeatedly asked us if we could "feel the spirit?" Of course we most certainly could. This segued nicely into Spirit in the Night and Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street? from his debut album Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.
Bruce has a tremendous amount of charisma and he interacts with the fans so at this point in the show it was time to take requests. He grabbed a few homemade signs from the audience and launched into Red Headed Woman, Streets of Fire and Because the Night.
Barely half way through the show at this point he launched into one huge hit after another getting everyone off their feet and singing and dancing along. One standout moment was when he plucked a young girl from the crowd to get up on stage and sing with him during Waitin' on a Sunny Day. She was actually quite good which prompted Bruce to exclaim "Vancouver's got talent!" By the time he played the rocker The Rising and the classic Badlands the roar of the crowd was deafening and the sustained chants of "Bruuuuuuuce!" echoed throughout the arena.
And he wasn't even close to being done as he played six encores including the last four with the house lights turned on. A wonderful moment came when he escorted an 80-year-old woman onto the stage to slow dance with him during Dancing in the Dark. Then he invited a fellow in a Santa Claus suit to join him on stage and perform a duet of Santa Claus is Coming to Town. The amazing night of music finally closed out with his tribute to "The Big Man" Clarence Clemons during Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out where he once again showcased Clemons' nephew Jake Clemons on the sax delivering a solo that would truly make his uncle proud.
I've just got to mention once again how absolutely incredible this band is and the immense level of talent on display by the likes of Nils Lofgren, Max Weinberg, Steve Van Zandt, Roy Bittan, Garry Tallent and Jake Clemons, not to mention all of the other wonderful backup singers and musicians on stage (17 in all). This is truly an all encompassing musical experience and for me one that will definitely stand the test of time as one of the all-time greats.
At 63 years of age Bruce Springsteen has more energy than just about any performer I've ever seen, and his stage presence and command of the audience is unparalleled in the industry. This was a true celebration of tremendous music.
Upon leaving the arena I could barely wipe the smile from my face and the overriding sense of joy and satisfaction I felt from witnessing such a stupendous evening of entertainment is something that I will never forget. What a show!
Bruce you truly are "The Boss."
Setlist for the show:
1. Shackled and Drawn
2. Out in the Street
3. Hungry Heart
4. We Take Care of Our Own
5. Wrecking Ball
6. Death to My Hometown
7. My City of Ruins
8. Spirit in the Night
9. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
10. Red Headed Woman (sign request)
11. Streets of Fire (sign request)
12. Because the Night
13. She's the One
14. Cover Me
15. Darlington County
16. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
17. Raise Your Hand (Eddie Floyd cover song)
18. The Rising
20. Land of Hope and Dreams
21. Racing in the Street (sign request)
22. Radio Nowhere (sign request)
23. Born to Run
24. Dancing in the Dark
25. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
26. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (Clarence Clemons tribute)