BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN AND THE E STREET BAND, at Rogers Centre, Friday, August 24. Rating: NNNNN
Fans will tell you that the E Street Band live experience is one of the best rock shows you'll ever see in your life, but until you actually experience it you assume there's at least a touch of hyperbole in that claim.
Any contemporary pop star who's playing large venues should study what Springsteen and his band are capable of very closely, and realize that complicated stage designs, fireworks and lasers are a waste of money if you've got the talent. Springsteen doesn't need any of that fluff - the peak of his show comes at five minutes before 11 pm, when venue turns on all the blindingly bright house lights because he's hit curfew, and the band just takes that as a signal to ramp it up another notch. And then they continued playing for 45 more minutes (after already playing for three hours non-stop before that).
Other superstars will justify playing the exact same set each night because of the need to sync everything up to the video and light show. Springsteen, on the other hand, takes requests and makes every song sound new. Even the tracks from his so-so newest album Wrecking Ball seemed far better live than on record. At times the extended jamming felt a bit exhausting, but that's still far more exciting than session musicians lifelessly playing along to backing tracks. And while the absence of deceased sax player Clarence Clemons was felt, the various tributes and mentions of him throughout the night were genuinely touching. Bruce is definitely still the Boss.