Bruce Springsteen in Toronto

Oh, y’know, just your average 3:40 from the E Street Band tonight. I can’t feel my legs.

Set:

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame [Norworth & Von Tilzer] (Charlie Giordano solo)
  • Working on the Highway
  • Hungry Heart
  • Sherry Darling (sign request)
  • We Take Care of Our Own
  • Wrecking Ball
  • Death to My Hometown
  • My City of Ruins
  • Spirit in the Night
  • Thundercrack! (sign request)
  • Jack of All Trades
  • Murder Incorporated
  • Prove It All Night
  • Candy’s Room (first time since my first Springsteen show almost ten years ago)
  • Mona [Bo Diddley]
    • She’s the One
  • Darlington County
  • Shackled and Drawn
  • Waiting on a Sunny Day
  • Incident on 57th Street (solo piano!!!)
  • The Rising
  • Badlands
  • Land of Hope and Dreams (first time hearing the “new” version)

Encore:

  • We Are Alive
  • Thunder Road
  • Born to Run
  • Rosalita (sign request)
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  • Twist and Shout [Medley/Russell]
    • La Bamba [trad.] (tease)

…and then, with Bruce yelling “we can’t stop now!”

  • Glory Days

Just a great all-around night. The second quarter of the main set was a tad indulgent…but that encore, plus “Thundercrack” and a solo piano “Incident”?!! (I’d heard a full-band “Incident” in St. Paul in 2007; when Bruce sat at the piano tonight and played a few chords I thought we were getting “The Promise,” after which I would have have walked out and retired from active concert-going.) More later; for now, melting into bed-time.

Quickie update: afterwards Bruce remarked, “That was the greatest audience we have ever had in Toronto.” He might’ve thought differently if he’d spent more time in section A4, where a fistfight almost broke out during the Clarence tribute in “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”. Still, it was impressive seeing Springsteen in an open, sold-out Rogers Centre with the CN Tower all lit up in the background.

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Bruce at the Ballpark

It’s been a week since I last saw Bruce Springsteen, and what better way of marking the occasion than with tickets to another Springsteen concert? He’s coming to Toronto on August 24–to the Rogers Centre, no less, where he last played on September 10, 2003 (a concert notable for, among other things, my presence and the moving Warren Zevon tribute that opened). I was already planning on being in town for my cousin’s wedding–great timing, Kelly!–and today, after getting stuck in Ticketmaster’s virtual waiting room for what seemed like an eternity, pulled prime floor seats just behind the general admission area. The seats are so good I don’t even feel it’s necessary to try and spring for any last-minute drops; they’re actually better than the ones we had in 2003, and those were pretty darn good (also, that was the first use of the expression “pretty darn good” in Stuff and Nonsense‘s illustrious seven-year history).

So now we wait till August…or at least till June, when I’m seeing Springsteen in Manchester, England England (across the Atlantic Sea). Meanwhile, the Wrecking Ball tour rolls on: the other night in Cleveland Bruce played “Light of Day” for the first time since 2008, giving me hope (albeit faint) that he’ll pull it out at Rogers Centre four months from now. (An open Rogers Centre, if you please: that 2003 concert was actually the first time the Rogers Centre roof was opened for a concert.) And if not, I’ll still get to experience the five best minutes in live rock n’ roll for a ninth time.

Bruce Springsteen in Buffalo: The Setlist

I’ve got this big, goofy grin on my face that won’t be going away anytime soon. What a night! As usual, bold denotes songs I’d never heard live before; in one case GREAT, BIG CAPITAL LETTERS denotes a song I’d heard live before, albeit not for a long while, that had me shakin’ it tonight (as it were) at First Niagara Center.

Set:

  • Buffalo Gals [trad.]
  • We Take Care Of Our Own
  • Wrecking Ball
  • The Ties That Bind
  • Death to My Hometown
  • My City of Ruins
  • Rendezvous (also a tour premiere)
  • Mountain of Love (ditto)
  • Jack of All Trades (love, love, love this song; I’m so glad I got to hear it before its inevitable disappearance later on in the tour)
  • Prove It All Night
  • Darkness on the Edge of Town (!)
  • Shackled and Drawn
  • Waiting on a Sunny Day
  • The Promised Land
  • Apollo Medley
  • Point Blank (tour premiere)
  • 41 Shots (American Skin)
  • The Rising
  • Lonesome Day
  • We Are Alive (another new song that sounded even better live than on the album; this one’s nothing short of genius)
  • Thunder Road 

Encore:

  • Rocky Ground
  • RAMROD
  • Born to Run
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (featuring a Clarence Clemons tribute that threatened to blow the roof off of First Niagara Center and that had Mr. Bruce Springsteen visibly on the brink of tears)

I’m off to bed, but I’ll have a review written later this weekend. Can’t wait to do it all again in Manchester June 22!

Bruce Springsteen in Buffalo

I’m seeing Bruce Springsteen tomorrow. Under normal circumstances I’d be excited–I haven’t seen him live in almost three years, after all–but in recent weeks the excitement level’s been ratcheted up. That’s because his new album Wrecking Ball is as good an anything Springsteen’s made since Born In The U.S.A.. I’m addicted to it; after getting used to the sonic vistas that Springsteen and producer Ron Aniello created (and yes, that includes the first-ever incidence of rapping on a Bruce Springsteen album) it’s been on endless repeat in the office, in the car, on airplanes, and on running paths in Calgary, Toronto, and Latin America. On one hand it’s an obvious response to America’s downward economic spiral–but on the other it’s the continuation of a dialogue that Springsteen’s been having with his audience since at least Darkness on the Edge of Town. He’s re-treading over familiar rocky ground, employing characters and examining themes that have been hallmarks of his work for the past thirty-five years. Get this album–seriously.

The new songs are gonna sound awesome live (two of them, “Land of Hope and Dreams” and “American Land,” have been staples for ages). Prior to the tour’s opening in Atlanta on March 18 the big question–the only question, really–was how Springsteen and the E Street Band would manage without Clarence Clemons, who passed away last June. Clemons was a massive presence literally, figuratively, and musically; it’s not surprising, then, that Springsteen elected to bring two saxophone players (including Clemons’ nephew Jake) on tour, along with an entire horn section, to flesh out and augment his band’s sound. Upwards of seventeen musicians will be on the First Niagara Center stage tomorrow night–yet seventeen hundred musicians couldn’t replace the Big Man, and it’ll be odd getting used to this latest iteration of the E Street Band. Speaking of First Niagara Centre: our seats are awful, the result of one of those blasted “virtual waiting rooms” and tickets that were bought, anachronistically, via charge-by-phone. I’ve had a couple shots at upgrading; earlier this week general admission floor seats were released but for various reasons I didn’t get them. Whether or not we upgrade one thing’s for certain: the one other time I’ve been to First Niagara Centre (when it was still called HSBC Arena) I saw the best concert of my entire life. That’s quite the superlative…and it’s absolutely 100% true. If tomorrow’s concert’s half as good as that Pearl Jam show from May 2, 2003 I’ll leave totally and utterly satisfied.

Oh: and if we’re taking requests I’d like “The Promise” and “Light of Day.” That’s utterly unreasonable, isn’t it.

Home for a Rest

Greetings from Toronto! Lots of catching up to do in the coming weeks, including…

  • Bruce Springsteen in Buffalo! His new album, Wrecking Ball, is masterful, and the current tour (playing Madison Square Garden right this very second) is gathering momentum. I just wish we had better seats; the upgrade game may well be necessary.
  • The Leafs’ seventh consecutive playoff-less year. In February they had an 85% chance of making the post-season.
  • Meanwhile, hope springs eternal down at the Rogers Centre, where I’ll be headed at least six or seven times in the next few weeks. Yesterday the Blue Jays won the longest opening day game in Major League Baseball history, beating the Cleveland Indians in sixteen innings. There might be real reason to believe this year.
  • Half-marathon preparation continues apace. I ran 15k last Sunday, then played soccer–which seems promising, though there’s still lots of work yet to do.
  • 31-for-31. Another item bit the dust today, actually.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Brasilia and Bruce

I’m listening to the new Bruce Springsteen album for the first time, in a hotel room in Brazil’s capital city Brasilia. I doubt I could’ve envisioned my present reality three years ago, when I fell asleep while giving Working on a Dream its inaugural listen, but here we are: I’m underneath the covers in a king-sized bed with the lights off and “Jack of All Trades” playing through my earbuds. It’s a good life. And it’s a bit of a weird one.

I’d been to Brasilia a couple years ago when our group flew in from Sao Paulo, visited a school, toured the city, and flew back. This year we checked into a hotel, which is actually more like a compound; it’s also one of the more unique places I’ve stayed, partly because there’s a giant zeppelin-like structure hanging over the lobby area. We’re technically staying two nights; I say “technically” because my alarm’s set for 2:40 tomorrow morning (it’s 8:36pm right now…hey, that’s six hours from now!) and I’ll be on a flight bound for Lima before sunrise. These are the less-glamourous aspects of what I do. Among the more glamourous ones: eating dinner at a restaurant abutting the Pacific Ocean, which is what I’ll be doing tomorrow night. Again: it’s a good life. It’s just a bit difficult wrapping my head around it sometimes.

More this weekend! Boa noite!

Bruce in Buffalo

It’s been an eventful morning. I was up at 5, showered, dressed, and out the door by 5:15…and back in the house by 5:20 after the Mirthmobile’s battery once again died. I was on my way to a pub called the Winkin Owl to watch the Liverpool/Manchester United F.A. Cup fourth-round tie; instead I watched it from home, and after Dirk Kuyt scored in the 88th minute to give Liverpool a barely-deserved victory I moved on to my next task: getting tickets for Bruce Springsteen in Buffalo. Alas, I’d never really dealt with tickets.com till today–but after spending almost two hours getting through it’ll be a long time before I complain about Ticketmaster again. I had two browsers locked inside virtual waiting rooms; in the end I got the tickets over the phone, something I can’t remember doing since getting Heppler his Thunder Bay Pearl Jam tickets in 2005, but by the time I finally got through the “best available” seats were in the back corner of the upper bowl. Whatever: we’re in the building and have at least a little leverage for the upgrade game (and our seats were cheap: $36 apiece). In the meantime, here’s the lead single from Springsteen’s forthcoming album Wrecking Ball, due out March 6. That’s, uh, quite the overt Arcade Fire influence there, Boss! See you April 13.