Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Copps Coliseum, Hamilton ON March 3

Though they fill any space with glorious spirit and noise, it was a genuine treat to stand some ten feet away from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band as they faced a clamouring Hamilton crowd. Four hundred of 19,000 lucky fans were able to crowd right in front of the E Street Band to form a fist-pumping, multi-generational pit. Springsteen met the assembly headfirst demanding, "Is anybody alive out there,” before launching into a righteous "No Surrender.” It’s remarkable to see Magic songs fit in fluidly with fan favourites, and "Gypsy Biker” sounded huge, broken up by twin call and response solos by Steve Van Zandt and the Boss. A lovely duo rendition of the title track between Springsteen and violinist Soozie Tyrell highlighted Patti Sciafla’s absence; Bruce said his wife was home "keeping the teenagers from burning the house down.” Foot stompin’ blues romp "Reason to Believe” gave way to a mesmerising "Because the Night,” with Nils Lofgren digging in for his own epic, blistering fretwork. Shockingly, some drunk, hippy-dancing kid leaped on-stage, getting all up in Van Zandt’s grill during "Long Walk Home” before a guitar tech could tackle him off-stage, behind an oblivious Springsteen, who eventually stopped singing to snicker at the scene. He could’ve stopped singing at any point that night really, as the crowd belted every word. In fact, the entire arena refused to stop "whoa-oh-ohing” when the band bowed at the end of "Badlands,” so the Boss ordered everyone back to their instruments. The encore drew an incredible "Thunder Road” followed by a rare "Kitty’s Back,” and the crazed joy of the Seeger Sessions-spawned, "American Land.” Rededicated to E Street though, Springsteen continues to stick closest to core band albums such as Born to Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town, The Rising, and now Magic, and the energy of this show was simply exhilarating.