Air Canada Centre
Feb 2 2016
Closing a four year gap since their last stop in Toronto (reviewed here), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band celebrated the release of the 2015 boxed set The Ties That Bind: The River Sessions with a sold out Air Canada Centre performance.
Kicking off with "Meet Me In The City" from the box, the band then got to work essaying the twenty song The River album in its entirety. Some highlights: a unique intro to "I Wanna Mary You" with Springsteen playing maracas and the very effective beginning of the albums title track with just Springsteen's hand held mic and Steve Van Zandt's acoustic 12-string ringing through the arena. "Point Blank" was given extra dramatic flair due to Roy Bittan's dark piano chords and the deep twang of Van Zandt's Gibson hollow-body guitar although Springsteen oddly eschewed the established vocal melody line. The three pronged River finale of "The Price You Pay", "Drive All Night" and "Wreck On The Highway" was thrilling to witness considering how rarely these songs have been played live.
Throughout the show, the ten musicians (only half of which actually played on the original River album, not that it matters) were their usual mix of precision tightness but not without room to flex when needed.
With the proper album presentation finally completed, Springsteen and the band rocked through a seven song set of classics including "The Promised Land", "Candy's Room", "Thunder Road" etc. Regular live favourite "Because The Night" showcased a fantastic demonstration in guitar pyrotechnics courtesyof Nils Lofgren while 1987's "Brilliant Disguise" was given a more upbeat tempo than on record.
After that, a further five song encore of more classic (if predictable) material finally brought the over three hour show to a close with a terrific and spirited set ending run through the Isley Brothers 1959 hit "Shout".