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Author Topic: Review: Bruce Springsteen rocks like a boss in Vancouver  (Read 5273 times)
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« on: November 29, 2012, 12:52:54 pm »

The Boss gives faithful fans one to remember at Rogers Arena


Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert at Rogers Arena Monday, November 26, 2012 in Vancouver, B.C.

VANCOUVER - For the second night in a row Monday night, a legend stole Vancouver's heart.

Sunday it was a love-in at BC Place with Paul McCartney, and Monday evening it was a different kind of powerhouse rock performance courtesy of Bruce Springsteen, who took about two minutes at the beginning of yet another marathon gig to show us why he will always be The Boss.

(The "Boss" nickname, by the way, comes from the early days of the E Street Band, when Springsteen would eat his band mates alive playing a unique brand of no-holds-barred Monopoly that barely followed the rules.)

There are usually no guidelines when it comes to Springsteen gigs, a refreshing approach in a world of ultra-polished and insanely choreographed arena rock concerts.

Click here for photos of Bruce Springsteen in Vancouver

Guessing the set list for a Springsteen gig ahead of time is as torturous a task as trying to take Boardwalk away from The Boss back in the '70s. Only one thing was for certain: It was going to be epic, and was it ever.

You have to consider that, at 63 and touring his 17th studio album Wrecking Ball, Springsteen has been breaking records: On July 31st in Helsinki, Finland, The Boss played for four hours and six minutes (not counting an acoustic set he had played earlier that day), making it the longest concert he had ever performed and beating the famed New Year's Eve gig at Nassau Coliseum in 1980 by a whole five minutes.

Springsteen didn't shatter any records in Vancouver, but he did offer a colossal performance that clocked in at over three hours and included over 25 songs.

There were seldom heard nuggets, there were requests taken from fans in the audience, there were those famous Springsteen sermon-like moments, there were the favourites that made the crowd go berserk. Well, it was a Boss show alright.

"Bruuuuuuce!" the near-sold out crowd, which filled the seats all around the arena, chanted just a few minutes after 8 p.m.

Backed by his E Street pals and a host of extra horn players and backup singers (17 musicians and singers in total, if the count is right), Springsteen sauntered onto the stage to kick off the proceedings with a stomping, gospel-inflected Shackled and Drawn, with vocalist Cindy Mizelle coaxing a crowd already on its feet to get up and be recognized.

Springsteen's workman style, which is often embodied in more activist-like material like We Take Care Of Our Own, co-mingled with grin-inducing, heartwarming cuts like Out In The Street and Hungry Heart, the latter a big happy singalong where Springsteen went waltzing through the crowd, making his way back crowd surfing atop a sea of outstretched arms.

That was three songs in.

The material from Wrecking Ball really came to life in a live setting, the album's title track and the Irish-tinged Death To My Hometown imbued with a new spirit in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation of the Jersey Shore.

Few speak of the common man's hopes and dreams as well as Springsteen. The crowd, 18,000-strong and with many waving signs requesting their favourite tracks, was buzzing with a religious-like fervor.

"What a great crowd tonight," Springsteen said, recognizing fans dressed as Santa and elves in the front row.

"I'm an old man but I don't want to go home," he added. "We've got miles to go here. I like my job."

Click here for photos of Bruce Springsteen through the years

Because Springsteen knows his is probably one of the best jobs in the world, that to inspire is the greatest responsibility.

"This is from our ghosts to your ghosts," he said before My City Of Ruins, which served to introduce his band, with some of the loudest cheers reserved for drummer Max Weinberg, guitarist Stevie Van Zandt and for Clarence Clemons' nephew Jake on the saxophone.

You could say it takes at least four or five horn players to fill the late Clarence's shoes and you wouldn't be too far off the mark. Yet seeing Jake finding a spot at Springsteen's side was a heart-warming sight.

On Spirit In The Night, from 1973's Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J., Jake was channeling his dear old uncle's ghost with pride.

Of course, the classic cuts made for the biggest cheers, especially when plucked from the audience: Springsteen digging out Red Headed Woman after a fan made a sign complete with articulated joints and red feathers for hair was an unexpected (and mildly dirty) blast, the band not even skipping a beat to segue into Streets Of Fire.

Springsteen revisiting the Patti Smith Group's Because The Night, which he co-wrote with Smith in 1978, gave guitarist Nils Lofgren a chance to go crazy during the guitar solo and spin round and round.

Indeed the night truly belonged to Springsteen and his fans, a young girl invited to sing on Waitin' On A Sunny Day and doing quite a spectacular job, some later throwing panties at The Boss, which lead him to exclaim: "I feel like Tom Jones!"

The rest of the concert was a series of victorious anthems: The Rising, Badlands, Land Of Hope And Dreams, which closed the show with hands held high.

The encore - a collection that included rollicking renditions of Born To Run, and Dancing In The Dark played with the house lights on where Springsteen invited an elderly woman to dance, and even Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - was essentially dedicated to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society, an organization Springsteen invited to collect donations in the hallways before and after the show.

Top it off with a larger-than-life salute to Clarence during Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out and the evening was complete.

Yes, The Boss ruled.

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