Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From Canada By Request - Hamilton, October 21, 2012

Man on the people:  "Hungry Heart"

Copps Coliseum in Hamilton was built in the 1980s in the hopes that the city would land an National Hockey League franchise.  Nonetheless, its style is more reminiscent of older arenas:  It has only a single main concourse from which both the upper and lower bowls enter; also there are only a dozen small luxury boxes, with no glass separating them from the action.  The kind of place where the sound is loud and it gets sweaty.  In short, Bruce Springsteen's kind of place.

Crowd Surfing during "Hungry Heart
When Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band took the stage to the theme from "The Magnificent Seven," Bruce appeared determined to conquer this part of Ontario -- just as they had a couple months earlier in nearby Toronto.  The band launched in to a blistering version of My Love Will Not Let You Down, with the house lights on for much of the number.  Bruce followed with a pair of songs from The River:  For Out in the Street, he personalized his delivery by going down to the front rows of the general admission and side stage areas.  Then, a huge roar for Hungry Heart, featuring an extended crowd surfing segment.  Has Bruce crowd surfed so early in a show, or for so long?  I don't know.  But  I do know that 3 songs in, and Ontario was safely in Bruce's control.

Holding out the mic to the crowd during "Out in the Street"
The Wrecking Ball core of the show followed, in which Bruce conjured up the visions and voices of ghosts ("how do I know they're here?  I can hear their voices!").  Then, a pair of throwbacks to Greetings From Asbury Park:  Spirit in the Night and Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?  Bruce played shaman for the front during Spirit, shaking his hands just over the outstretched reach of the audience.  Bus Stop included a drum-off between Max Weinberg and Everett Bradley, with Bruce hand signaling the band a number of downbeats between each segment.  Fannies finally were planted in seats for the first time when Bruce slowed it down for Jack of All Trades.

Bruce greets audience members in Hamilton
Reports from Friday's show in Ottawa indicated that the request section of that show had been skipped. The certainly was not the case in Hamilton.  As in Toronto, "Canadian humor" was the order of the day.  Bruce openly laughed at several signs; there were multiple signs with flashing lights, signs for songs played every night and signs for songs played almost never.  Except for the one sign with the birthday card ("thanks, I needed the reminder!"), he seemed to take them all.  First up was "We Are Trapped In Hamilton"  

Then, "Hi Bruce.  I just got dumped.  I'm Goin' Down."  Has Bruce ever played analyst on stage before?  Now he has.  After noting that everyone does get dumped, with the obligatory laughing at every girl who dumped him back in the day, he decided to interview the poor dumping victim and determined that, yes, the girl was "probably right!"  Then, "hug!," and the dumpee was on the stage in an extended man-hug with the tough love analyst Boss man.

A flashing Because the Night sign similar to one in Toronto (maybe the same one?) led to that song being played; Bruce needed multiple guitar changes before proceeding with it, and the song ultimately ended with a monster 10-twirl solo from Nils Lofgren.

11-year old Grace Mahler of Hamilton held up a sign that read, "Terry's Song for my friend Sydney in heaven."
Fans with the "Canada Loves Rosalita" sign before the show
Other sign holders also got stage time, throughout the night.  There was even a flashing sign by a young girl for Waiting on a Sunny Day, which earned her the singing solo.  She nailed it, duplicating the octave switch that the Toronto singer had used so effectively during the summer.  

The most unusual sign selection was for Terry's Song, held up in remembrance of a local girl who passed away this summer. There were only two known instances of Bruce playing this song live:  the first was at Terry's service, and the 2nd time just prior to Danny Federici passing away.  Bruce introduced the song by recalling the first time he ever met Terry Magovern, when he and Steve played a bar that Terry managed.  It's worth finding the story on youtube (certainly it must be there by now).  In Hamilton, Bruce was providing comfort to the audience member as he played the song on guitar and harmonica, and one could have heard a pin drop in the Coliseum during the performance.

Bruce completed his Canadian conquest during the encores, opening that final segment with yet another request, this time for the seldom-played I'm a Rocker, and later on by taking a tattered sign that has followed Bruce around Canada for years:  "Canada loves Rosalita."  Stevie obliged here, by taking the line "Some day we'll look back on this and it will all seem funny," adding, just for a bit of final punctuation on the show, "HA HA!"

After 26 songs and a touch over 3 hours, Bruce had conquered Ontario.  Again.
Notes:  These pictures also appeared in http://backstreets.com/news.html.  A slightly edited version of this review appeared on http://brucespringsteen.net/

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