June 30, 2013

Notes from the road: Paris

Twenty-eight years ago this day, Bruce Springsteen brought his wildly successful Born in the U.S.A. tour to Paris and played at the Parc de la Cournevue. On a 2013 Saturday night at the Stade de France, he revived the spirit and content of that show over three hours and ten minutes — a flashback for those there in 1985, and a treat for those too young to have attended.

Speaking in French, Bruce told the Parisian crowd that that to do something special for the show, the band would be performing the Born in the U.S.A. album from top to bottom; judging by the roar of approval, the crowd was quite happy with Bruce’s choice. They sang along loudly to “Born in the U.S.A.,” waved their arms for “Bobby Jean,” bounced to “No Surrender,” swooned to  “I’m on Fire” and, well, danced to “Dancing in the Dark.”

The spirit of 1985 was present in many of the other choices in the setlist, with an energetic one-two punch of “Badlands” and “Out in the Street” starting the show, as well as a granted sign request for “Cadillac Ranch,” featuring an extended guitar from solo from Steve Van Zandt.  Each time he would try to end his solo, Bruce yelled out, “One more time, Steve! One more time!” as he kept going.

Also by request was Little Richard’s “Lucille,” via a sign that Bruce grabbed on one of his early forays out into the crowd. Displaying it on the giant video screen, Bruce acknowledged that “Someone is trying to stump the E Street Band!” and spotting the requestor, told him to “Wave your hand, son!” After only a very brief consultation with Garry and Steve, the band crashed right into the performance, complete with Bruce bringing the horn section down front to play the main riff.  To no one’s surprise, the band remains un-stumpable.

Despite playing hit after hit in the main set, Bruce still had something left for the encore, which he started with a rare performance of one of his newest songs, the last track on Wrecking Ball.  Serving as a worthy summation of the show, he introduced it by saying that “The E Street Band is here because of the thousands of musicians who came before us, who we studied and learned from… who we can never repay, except by playing our best for you. This is a song about how the voices of the dead inform the lives of the living, how they are never truly gone — their voices remain there, and their spirits are there in the air — this is “We Are Alive.”

—Glenn Radecki, Backstreets.com