By Sam CarsonThere's nothing small about a Bruce Springsteen show, as the now 16-piece E Street Band played to tens of thousands of fans for nearly four hours at Toronto's Rogers Centre.
Springsteen whipped the crowd into a frenzy with the first song, "Working on the Highway," before leading the audience in a sing-along version of "Hungry Heart." The pace barely slowed from there, as the band worked through a mix of songs from early in Springsteen's career, with a few tracks from last year's Wrecking Ball mixed in as well.
It's clear that the Boss hasn't lost his passion for entertaining crowds of his fans, with the singer spending as much time playing on low stages in front of the floor crowd as on the main stage with the rest of the E Street Band.
A few fans had their requests -- in the form of handmade bristol board signs -- honoured, notably "Thundercrack," an outtake from 1973's The Wild, The Innocent& the E Street Shuffle, as well as a solo, piano-based rendition of "Incident on 57th Street" from the same album.
Although some slower songs were mixed into the set list, the show blazed along at full energy for its entire marathon run time. The closest Springsteen took to a break was a short bit where he lay on stage as Steve Van Zandt played up his need to goad Springsteen into continuing on, with "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" "Glory Days" and a cover of "Twist and Shout," which Springsteen joked is the song where they finally pull the plug -- a jab at the recent Hyde Park incident.
It was clear that not everyone in the audience appreciated the length of the show as much as the diehard fans, as the beer runs became more common during the lesser-known songs, and more and more people were in their seats by the two-and-a-half-hour mark instead of dancing.
Springsteen also paid tribute to late band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici, asking the crowd, "Are you missing anybody?" after the band introductions during "The Rising." Clemons nephew Jake, who has taken over the role of the band's sax player, was also met with huge applause whenever he played one of his late uncle's solos.
As Springsteen walked, drenched in sweat, offstage, to a fleet of cars that had been left idling since midway through the encore, it was clear that he is as devoted to rock'n'roll as ever, and at least for the night, so was everyone in the audience.