BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN and the E.STREET BAND – ” Two Nights In Paris ” July 2016

Posted: July 17, 2016 in MUSIC
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The Bruce Springsteen concert at the Arena Accor Hotels Paris was interrupted for a few minutes Monday night because of a failure of sound and lights.

He put so much energy that he blew a fuse. The Bruce Springsteen concert in Paris Accor Hotels Arena Monday night was interrupted for about twenty minutes when the sound and the stage lights stopped working. According to spectators in the room, the fire alarm was also triggered. Far from being disconcerted, the singer apologized to his fans with the means at hand, before approaching the crowd to sign autographs. The management of the concert hall explained that these technical problems happen, without elaborating further.
The concert finally resumed after about twenty minutes, but without the giant screens, projectors or the lights directed on the stage, the remaining room fully illuminated. With humor, Bruce Springsteen chose to continue the evening by interpreting … “Dancing in the dark”.

It was a wild night in Paris. Bruce arrived to a city that was stuck in between the heartbreak of a national soccer team loss and the celebration of a historical revolution. Before the three hour and forty-seven minute* show concluded, the crowd would witness three tour premieres, Bruce making his own sign requests, and the long-awaited fulfillment of a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band unplugged show.… in some fashion, at least.

On the first night Bruce took the stage alone and greeted the crowd. “Bonjuor Paris! Comment allez-vous? Tres bien,” he said, before taking a seat at the piano. In soft purple and turquoise lighting he fumbled around for a few chords before settling into a nearly ten-minute “Incident on 57th Street.” A hush fell over the crowd, and I saw at least one person reaching for their eyes as Bruce lent his powerful voice to an incredibly personal rendition.

Bruce’s solo “Incident on 57th Street” was the first of several in the set that leaned towards the intimate and the emotional. Springsteen reached for some unusual selections that could be heard to address the troubling news back home in the U.S. — “American Skin” isn’t the only song in his back pocket for mean times like these. For the first song with the band, he brought back the distorted bullet microphone effect from the Devils & Dust and Magic tours for a 2016 premiere of “Reason to Believe.” The full-band arrangement featured a blues rhythm and Little Steven at the front on the white Vox teardrop guitar. The instrumental bridge had the floor jumping and Bruce dancing in the center cutout, silhouetted against a dark stage.

A workhorse “Badlands” kept the crowd’s blood pumping, with Bruce shuffling to the back of the stage to point at some familiar faces dancing wildly on the first row. And the songs about faith and hope in dark times continued: “Fella outside the hotel today lost his wife recently,” Bruce said. “This was one of her favorite songs.” In dim lightning Soozie opened with a few long and mournful notes on the violin before Bruce and the band joined in the tour premiere of “Into the Fire.” Springsteen would later take the stage alone with a 12-string styled Telecaster  for another tour premiere from his 1982 solo album. With the shrill sound of his harmonica, standing in a single spotlight on an otherwise dark stage, Bruce played “Nebraska” — performed at only one other E Street Band show since 1985, in Belfast ‘2013.

Despite the rare dips into Nebraska, this was most certainly a River show: the set featured 15 songs in total from the tour’s eponymous album, and for a stretch it seemed like they might play the whole thing. The band had a little trouble finding all the right instruments for “Jackson Cage.” “We’ll be right there,” Bruce said. He stopped during “Hungry Heart” to shake the hand of a young girl on her father’s shoulders, and he pulled another fan up onto the walkway for a lengthy hug during “I’m a Rocker” while the band continued to play.

The intimacy would continue with the River album standouts “Point Blank” — with Roy bathed in hard purple and red light and the silhouette of Bruce whispering tenderly to the audience — and “Drive All Night,”featuring a booming Jake Clemons saxophone solo. Bruce turned his affection towards Patti Scialfa for a duet on “Tougher Than the Rest,” serenading his wife on the harmonica to close the song. The Queen of E Street’s vocals also featured heavily on “Darlington County” and “Because the Night.”

After the main set, which brought us out of the valley with “The Rising” and “Land of Hope and Dreams,” Bruce came to the mic and hushed the crowd. He turned his back and held his guitar over his head while Roy and Soozie started “Jungleland.” Elliott Murphy and his son Gaspard joined Bruce on stage for “Born to Run,” with Bruce falling to his knees to plead to the crowd, “Lemme see your hands!”

“Steve, look over yonder, see the Eiffel Tower lights,” Bruce said, beginning Ramrod. Little did he know, his words would prove inauspicious. For the second time in just over four years, the E Street Band was too much for the Parisian power grid, and the lights and sound failed mid-song. The crowd went wild as the band kept right on playing, with lighting equipment crackling and sputtering overhead. Bruce, with a bewildered look on his face, led everyone to the front of stage to dance and play. The only sound that could be heard from the band were the drums and the occasional faint hint of saxophone.

The crowd filled the void with chanting and wild cheering as Bruce and the band marched their way onto the floor. Charlie and Nils picked up accordions to join the procession and try to be heard by the nearby crowd at least. Overhead speaker loops were calling for evacuation, but the fans refused to leave. By the time the band had made its slow circuit of the pit, the stage was crawling with techs trying to figure out what was going on.

The band circled around for an impromptu meeting on stage, Bruce and Patti laughing and gesturing at one another. Bruce asked to borrow a fan’s sign and wrote his own request on the back — for five more minutes — and held it up for the crowd. Bruce, Patti, and Jake sat down on the front of stage and started signing autographs while Garry tossed water bottles to fans in the crowd. Photographer Annie Leibovitz even took to the stage and started snapping candid photos of the mayhem.

When the lights finally returned, the band performed a quick, 30-second sound check. Bruce took the microphone after what had been about a 20-minute intermission. “Stevie,” he said, “Is it quitting time? Is it fuse-blowing time?” The crowd went crazy, the show returned to something like normalcy, and the band jumped right back in to the end of “Ramrod” like this was any other hijinks. Bruce wasn’t finished having fun with the band’s misadventure. “Can you hear me?” he asked to start “Shout.” “Are you sure?!” Bruce drenched himself in water, once for the front of stage and again for the back, and Steve cloaked Bruce in a shining coronation mantle embroidered with a “Boss” insignia. “You’ve just seen the heart-stopping, pants-dropping… rock out till the lights are out, legendary E Street Band,” Bruce hollered before one last verse of “Shout.” 

Bruce took a moment to reflect on the evening before a solo acoustic “Thunder Road.” “What a surprising night. What a great night,” he said, “Electricity is on. It’s off again. It’s on. It’s off. Nothing stops the mighty E Street Band. Thanks for sticking in with us.” Rolling with the punches, Bruce and the band took full advantage of the smaller venue and stage to provide a uniquely intimate performance, with three solo arrangements, three tour premiers, and enough E Street Band power to shut out the lights all over Paris.

First Night in Paris 11th July 2016

Setlist:
Incident on 57th Street (solo piano)
Reason to Believe
Badlands
Into the Fire
The Ties That Bind
Sherry Darling
Jackson Cage
Two Hearts
Independence Day
Hungry Heart
Out in the Street
Crush on You
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
Death to My Hometown
Nebraska (solo acoustic)
The River
Point Blank
Cadillac Ranch
I’m a Rocker
Darlington County
Tougher Than the Rest
Drive All Night
Because the Night
The Rising
Land of Hope and Dreams
* * *
Jungleland
Born to Run (with Elliott and Gaspard Murphy)
Ramrod
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Shout
Bobby Jean
Thunder Road (solo acoustic)

Bruce Springsteen arrived in Paris for two shows over three nights, European prayers have finally been answered. If Monday’s fuse-blowing Paris concert demonstrated for the first time on this tour the magnetic energy generated from combining the intimacy of a typical American arena with the the signature passion of a European crowd, the second Accor Hotels Arena show tested what would happen when these fans were finally treated to the first-ever full album performance of “The River” in Europe. After much begging, cajoling, pleading, screaming, and yes, even praying on the part of the European fan contingent, it was well worth the wait.

The second concert opened with an equally rare occurrence: the first performance in Europe (the third ever in the world, and only the second with the E Street Band) of “Iceman.” The Darkness outtake was given a tight, focused, and intense full band treatment (sans Patti) with Bruce’s voice fittingly gruff to match the song’s subject. They kept the rarities coming with “Lucky Town,” which was once again capped with a fiery Boss guitar solo.

And then, it was time for the main event. When Springsteen revealed in a little speech — in French, no less —that “The River” would be played in its entirety specially for Paris, the crowd erupted with a deafening ovation of sheer joy. As many fans have made clear since this European leg began, they’ve been waiting years for the opportunity to see one of Bruce’s greatest albums performed in full. It felt like all of the anticipation and hoping and dreaming was released in a rush of excitement to the opening chords of “The Ties That Bind,” and this ceaseless enthusiasm was sustained through the final notes of “Wreck on the Highway.” 

Their starved desire for these tracks makes even more sense considering how rarely a lot of them have been played in Europe since the original River Tour 35 years ago: “Stolen Car,” never since 1981; “Wreck on the Highway,” one time (solo); “Fade Away,” three times. Ignoring performances on this tour, “I Wanna Marry You” (never performed since 1981), “The Price You Pay,” (performed once) and “Independence Day” (performed four times) are almost as rare. The entire crowd responded in a way that made it feel like they understood the special significance of this evening.

Everyone from the pit to the upper deck looked and sounded engaged from beginning to end, rarely allowing the energy to wane enough even to sit down — the first two sides of the record were basically a non-stop sing-along, jump-along, and chant-along party — while always remaining deadly silent for the ballads. Many fans clearly bought tickets for this River Tour 2016 to hear The River, and not only its greatest hits: the whole place bellowed the lyrics to “Jackson Cage”; applause greeted the opening chords of “Stolen Car”; “The Price You Pay” elicited a decibel-busting level of crowd participation that rivaled “Badlands”; and the entire arena respectfully applauded through the final coda of “Wreck on the Highway.”

Bruce brought back a lot of the same stage blocking from the American leg, including a “Hungry Heart” crowd surf that was way slower than normal — it seemed the handlers in the pit wanted to pass Bruce back and forth to give everyone a chance to touch the Boss. As he did in Baltimore, Bruce once again oversaw a wedding proposal during “I Wanna Marry You,” pronouncing them “Mr. and Mrs. Rock ‘n’ Roll… in the name of rock ‘n’ roll!” Two songs later, the crowd continued Bruce’s soul-stirring humming at the end of “The River” all the way through the silence while Bruce and the Band cued up “Point Blank.” Bruce waited until this humming had organically reached the melody’s end before having Roy seamlessly begin the song — a hauntingly beautiful transition between the two records.

All together the evening felt like one long ecstatic catharsis. Tears, hugs, kissing, jumping, clapping, singing, chanting, smiles, all plentiful throughout. More than any other show on this tour, the concert actually felt the most like the first time The River was played in its entirety way back in 2009 at Madison Square Garden. Since the crowd knew this wasn’t a nightly occurrence, a special vibe of overwhelming elation was in the air. Judging from the rousing standing ovation that greeted the album’s conclusion, their lofty expectations were exceeded, and then some more.

With the exception of a story-less performance of “Growin’ Up” — the only sign request of the night — the rest of the night felt predictable and a little rushed; the set-ending “The Rising” literally went directly into the encore-opening “Born in the U.S.A.,” with not even a second of a pause between them. But after The River, any other song was just gravy for this crowd. These fans had finally gotten what they had been waiting so long to hear. Paris will only enhance the legendary status of the “grass-mowing, fuse-blowing, legendary E Street Band’s” full album River performances (“Ramrod” also included a bevy of references to fuse-blowing by Bruce and Stevie), and I’m sure all of the European fans not in Paris will be chasing it for the remainder of the tour. Gothenburg 3? Zurich for the final European stop? They can only pray…that it might happen again.

Second Night in Paris 13th July 2016

Setlist:
Iceman
Lucky Town
The Ties That Bind
Sherry Darling
Jackson Cage
Two Hearts
Independence Day
Hungry Heart
Out in the Street
Crush On You
You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
I Wanna Marry You
The River
Point Blank
Cadillac Ranch
I’m a Rocker
Fade Away
Stolen Car
Ramrod
The Price You Pay
Drive All Night
Wreck on the Highway
Badlands
The Promised Land
Growin’ Up
Because the Night
The Rising
* * *
Born in the U.S.A.
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out
Shout
Thunder Road (solo acoustic)

thanks to Backstreets.com for the words

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