Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Bruce Springsteen live in Paris in 2008 - You never forget your first time


Continuing the series of "concerts I attended 10 years ago" here is an important one: An artist who I had not seen live until that time but who I would go and see 12 more times in the next 8 years. Bruce Springsteen. And not just Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen with the E Street Band. The year before I had gone to France to see The Rolling Stones, so I thought "why not Bruce this year in the same country"? I had wanted to see him live ever since I bought his "Live 1975-85" album and learned about his legendary 3 hours+ concerts. But, not being close to the fan circuit I did not expect he would still be doing these things in 2008. I was disappointed when he disbanded the E Street Band and his lack of output in the 90's thinking "now I'll never get to see him live", but hope arose again when in late 2000 when I was a postgraduate student in London and I watched a 90-minute special of his concerts in Madison Square Garden earlier that year. And I remembered a few years later picking up a copy of the "Tour Edition" of "The Rising" at Santorini airport and thinking "yeah, tour!". It took a few years for faith to be rewarded, but it was indeed rewarded.
Earlier that year, in 2008,  I had become aware of the Greek Bruce Springsteen community who were calling themselves "No Surrender". While I was planning my summer trip to Paris to see Bruce I read in a Greek newspaper a review of his winter concert in the same city where the fans had made a sign saying "Play NO SURRENDER for the Greeks" and Bruce did indeed oblige. And I had also picked up one of their flyers advertising one of their parties at a record shop.

So I bought my ticket but for some strange reason I had to pick it up from the stadium on the day of the concert. I had decided to buy the most expensive ticket as I had done with The Rolling Stones the year before while in the meantime noticing some strange facts. The most expensive ticket for the (cancelled) Rolling Stones concert in Athens in 2006 was €300. The most expensive ticket for the Rolling Stones concert in Lyon in 2007 was half that price at €150. And the most expensive ticket for the Bruce Springsteen concert in 2008 was a bit more than half the latter price at €85! Anyway, I arrived at Parc Des Princes early to receive my ticket only to end up waiting for a couple of hours with other fans next to a gendarme that looked a lot like Richard Gere while most of the time only pitch tickets were handed out (mine was in the stands). The two French words I mostly heard during those two hours were "Pelouse" (pitch) and "Attendez" (wait). I finally got my ticket, went back to the hotel and back to the stadium in time for my first Bruce Springsteen concert.

And the first Bruce Springsteen song I heard live was "Adam Raised A Cain". And I realized that he would play the requests he received as signs for the audience (a funny moment was when he picked up one for "Fire", the band mistakenly started playing "I'm On Fire" only to stop and then start the correct song a few seconds later. I also realized that he would play obscure tracks. One of my favourite Bruce songs is "Janey Don't You Lose Heart" which I had discovered back in 1985 when I bought the "I'm Going Down" 7 inch single. "Janey" was on the b-side. I could not believe my luck when he played it that night.

And since he was in France he also played "Rendez-Vous" and he introduced "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" as a "chanson pout les jeunes filles Francaises". On, and he did play "No Surrender".
And finally I realized that he did still play those marathon shows. The Paris concert was only (only?) 2 hours and 35 minutes, still a lot longer than other bands, but Bruce can be forgiven because he had played a longer one at San Siro in Milano a few days earlier. And anyway, at the end of these 2 hours and 35 minutes the concert had become a huge party with a (very) extended version of "American Land" at the end.

The only problem was the sound. At least the sound where I was sitting. Acoustic songs were fine, but on louder songs the sound of the bass and the drums seemed to reverberate at the concrete of the stadium's tiers. When I realized this I prayed for Bruce to play more acoustic songs (and he did indeed play quite a few). Of course by the end I didn't care. It just goes to show that when you buy the most expensive ticket you don't necessarily get the best conditions. From my next Bruce shows, I would move to the arena and later the "pit" once I learned the ropes and how this procedure was carried out.
Upon my return to Greece I contacted the No Surrender community and the rest is, as they say, history, an important part of which is that my next Bruce Springsteen concert was 366 days later, on the next day of my first year anniversary. This one, my first, was on the 27th of June 2008 at Parc Des Princes in Paris, while my second one was on the 28th of June 2009 at Hyde Park in London (the one that was released on DVD). And as an extra twist, my eleventh one was once again in Paris at the other big stadium of the city (Stade De France at Saint Denis) on the 29th of June 2013 two days after my fifth anniversary! (11 concerts in 5 years! Let that sink in for a minute). It seems like the end of June is the ideal time to see Bruce Springsteen live...
SETLIST:
01. Adam Raised a Cain
02. Radio Nowhere
03. No Surrender
04. The Promised Land
05. Spirit in the Night
06. Rendezvous (Sign request)
07. Candy's Room
08. Atlantic City
09. Janey Don't You Lose Heart (Sign request)
10. Darlington County
11. Because the Night
12. She's the One
13. Livin' in the Future
14. Mary's Place
15. Fire (Sign request - False start : Max started "I'm on Fire")
16. For You
17. The River
18. The Rising
19. Last to Die
20. Long Walk Home
21. Badlands
22. Out in the Street
Encore:
23. Girls in Their Summer Clothes
24. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
25. Born to Run
26. Bobby Jean
27. Dancing in the Dark
28. American Land