“That was The River.” – #JNGListens

*Note: This post was written on Wednesday, the day after the Bruce Springsteen concert in Toronto, so my reaction and reflections were fresh and immediate.*

I’ve gushed about Bruce Springsteen here on the blog many times before. I’ve talked about how amazing I think his music is, how much fun it is to go to his concerts with my father, and even about how much he reminds me of a certain Victorian literary hero I’m quite fond of. I’ve used lyrics from his songs several times on Twitter as part of my #JNGListens posts. But, one thing I haven’t had the opportunity to do is write a detailed post about the experience of going to one of his concerts, about the sheer brilliance and scope of a 3-plus hour performance by a veteran rocker. There’s nothing quite like being in the room with a seasoned performer, one who doesn’t need any frills or gimmicks to get the crowd excited.

This Tuesday February 2nd, I had the chance to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform for the sixth time in my life. Obviously, I enjoy Springsteen concerts more than a little, and I’ve even travelled to Hamilton and Buffalo with my dad to see the exact same performance, during the exact same tour, multiple times. I would say that the Wrecking Ball Tour concert in Hamilton was hands down, without doubt the BEST concert I have ever seen in my life – and I’ve seen a lot of concerts, from boy bands like One Direction (NOT ashamed!) to hard rockers like ACDC. But, there’s just something about a Springsteen concert that’s unlike any other show you can go to. Like I said before, the man doesn’t use or need frills for the show to be enjoyable; his music speaks for itself, and nothing portrays that more than the fact that, on Tuesday, Springsteen sauntered casually onto the stage with the lights on in the beginning of the show, not even using any introductory music or huge light show or anything like that. He didn’t need it because we were all just excited to see him and hear him, and unlike so many artists nowadays, Springsteen’s voice, lyrics and artistry are enough to make the show spectacular. No cheesy dance moves required!

I do have to include a little disclaimer here though: The River is not my favourite Springsteen CD. That accolade would have to go to the album Magic, which I know is not as popular as some of his more iconic CDs (I’m thinking Born in the U.S.A. as an example), but which I think is totally brilliant and a true masterpiece. I could listen to the CD over and over, and I actually have done that in the car many times late at night. There’s nothing quite like listening to Radio Nowhere while driving on the highway!

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed The River Tour 2016! The River isn’t Springsteen’s most cohesive or thematic album, but it has some really catchy and touching songs. My favourite is probably Out In The Street, because lines like the one below are just so relevant to life:

“When I’m out in the street / I talk the way I wanna talk.”

– Out In The Street, Bruce Springsteen

During the concert, I also experienced a new appreciation for certain songs on The River that I hadn’t really paid attention to when listening to the CD. Springsteen’s performance of Point Blank was incredible, toned down and moving, and I would have to say that my favourite performance of the night was Drive All Night, which is a new frontrunner for my affections on this album.

The River is a 2 hour CD in itself, but of course, Springsteen didn’t stop there, and he still performed an hour long encore. During this incredible spectacle, Springsteen finally played one of my all-time favourite songs, Brilliant Disguise. This song basically sums up why I love Springsteen so much: it is pretty much a poem. And it’s a really well written poem at that. Brilliant Disguise tells a story, one that isn’t necessarily uncommon but that is treated with a unique clarity and honesty by Springsteen. I’ve known every single lyric since I was in high school, and it was so special to see Springsteen perform it live. It was definitely a Bucket List moment.

Basically, this concert gets a 10 out of 10 from me, as would any Springsteen concert. This man, even as he gets “older”, is a force to be reckoned with, and probably any person who appreciates true songwriting ability and commitment to art would follow this man down to any river he chose. He’s just that good.

Springsteen #1 Springsteen #2

Springsteen crowd surfing because he’s basically a god.
Springsteen crowd surfing because he’s basically a god.

My weekend advice: Get out in the street everyone, and listen to some Springsteen as loud as you can!


Girl with a Green (Rocker) Heart

my green heart


  1. Barefoot Runner says:

    I would pay to watch Springsteen sing the phone book! I’m an atheist but The Boss is the closest thing I worship as a god. Road trip to Buffalo??

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