The River Tour, Toronto

Bruce Springsteen fans are the best. Last night at the Air Canada Centre, a packed audience remained almost continuously on their feet for a dopamine-inducing performance. Hands waving in the air, fans sang and danced like I’ve never seen before. Wherever I looked, there were smiling, happy faces. Springsteen evokes a response from his audience similar to that of a Baptist preacher before his congregation. The energy and spirit of his performances with the E Street band are exhilarating and transformative.

Some Highlights
The title track “The River” was made memorable by smart phone flashlights that lit up the ACC like stars. (The modern equivalent to lighters.) I have an aversion to cell phones, but I don’t think anyone would deny that it was a beautiful phenomenon to see all those lights shimmering along with the music.

Springsteen crowd surfing at the ACC.

“Point Blank” live: The intro to this gorgeously arranged version was mesmerizing—the piano, the cymbals. Bruce’s emotional delivery of the lyrics and the harmonies of the band gave me the chills. There was a beautiful organ solo in the middle, too. It may have been the best song of the evening.

“Because the Night”: The song that Bruce gave to Patti Smith. I read Smith’s memoir M Train a couple of months ago so it was synchronistic to hear the song last night. It was empowering to dance and sing along passionately with Bruce, the E Street band, and all the ecstatic fans. “Because the night belongs to lovers / Because the night belongs to us”!

The Encore: My secret wish for this concert was to hear “Badlands.” Check. Another special moment was when Bruce graciously danced with an octogenarian fan to “Dancing in the Dark.”

Final Thoughts: Time is passing, which was made evident by Bruce’s weathered face up on the big screen (as it is from my own middle-aged reflection in the mirror). This humble reminder makes me deeply grateful for magical, music-filled nights such as these.

“The subtext of The River was time, time entering your life and slipping away. And how once you entered your adult life, your clock starts ticking, you have a limited time to do your work, raise your family, and try and do something good.” —Bruce Springsteen