Bleachers @ Air Canada Centre

Bruce Springsteen has become somewhat of a patron saint for many modern acts, including The Hold Steady, The Gaslight Anthem, and The Killers.

Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers set themselves apart by drawing not from the heartland, working-class anthem Boss, but the candy-coated, new-wave Boss. Songs like “Rollercoaster”, “Shadow”, and “You’re Still a Mystery” are full of glimmering synths and “whoa-ohs” all over and contributed to the non-stop party feel of the night. And yes, of course there was a saxophone solo.

Antonoff is also known for his guitar work in fun. and his set on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre made it clear that he’s spent many years honing his pop songwriting skills while with them. However where that band pays homage more to Queen and their theatricality, Bleachers are disciples of Antonoff’s fellow Jersey boy. All the shiny pop glitz is even-handedly tempered with unfiltered emotion that balloons the already big tunes to arena size. Last year’s “Don’t Take the Money” is a prime example of mastercraft pop songwriting adorned with first class production.

It was a fairly short six-song set, divided by a brief interlude containing a partial cover of Tom Petty‘s “American Girl”, but it was enough to energize the crowd for headliner and pop veteran Pink (P!nk, for the purists). It’s no wonder that Antonoff has become a hot commodity as a songwriter and producer for the world’s biggest pop stars; he’s right at home in massive venues.

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