Arms over each others shoulders, Bruce and Nils walked in front of the E Street Band to the stage at Rogers Centre in Toronto, headlong into a solid wall of cheers and applause. As Charlie Giordano hit the strains of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and the Band members stepped on stage, the overwhelming cheering continued. Hearing and making that powerful noise made the connection that inevitably happens at a Bruce show: for the rest of the night, Toronto was going to follow Bruce wherever he went.
Last night, “Candy’s Room” and “Incident on 57th Street” were the two extremes, the songs that took us the farthest in two directions. “Candy’s Room” came on like an explosion, while a classic solo “Incident on 57th Street” at the piano was a crash course in mass hypnosis. During “Thundercrack,” Bruce led a young Toronto girl in a refrain of “All night… all night…” getting progressively quieter each time around, until they were barely audible. The audience followed them perfectly until you could almost hear yourself think. Just as gradually the sound came back up, a little bit louder each time, and when the band released us from the trance, the cheers landed on the stage like a thundercrack.
The overpowering combination of Curt Ramm and Nils closing out a loving rendition of “Jack of All Trades” left us primed for a hard-rocking back to back “Murder Inc.” and “Prove it All Night.” We saw Bruce, Steve and Nils working in their “master guitarist” roles, with Bruce and Steve in a ferocious guitar battle during “Murder Inc.” and Nils as anchor with a volatile solo during “Prove it All Night.”
The other vital dimension of the show at Rogers Centre was raw sex appeal, with multiple solos from the E Street Horns, powerful vocals from the E Street Singers, and the spontaneity that comes with Bruce ditching the setlist halfway through the first song. When Bruce called out for all the red headed women in the audience, a frenzied and distinctly feminine cry was heard from the stadium and Bruce shot back, “Well stay away from me!” before leading an even louder cheer for Patti.
As Bruce came off the stage after three hours and 37 minutes, he said to his team, “That was the greatest audience we have ever had in Toronto.” Long time tour members heartily agreed.
– Charles D. Landau