Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – La Defense Arena, Paris; MAy 15th, 2023
Night two of seeing Bruce Springsteen in Paris was a different kind of special than night one. Once again I was moved to tears, smiled a lot and sang along at the top of my lungs. I was in a different place though, physically and mentally and it was a totally different experience. The important part is that I loved it.
Having a Front of stage ticket I spent some time considering whether I should do the line and the roll calls or just take my chances on show day and see where I ended up. After the first show, I decided on the former, got a number, spent some of my Sunday going back and forth between my hotel and the arena and was in line for much of the Monday afternoon. It was rather relaxed though and when we finally got in and I actually made it to front row, albeit on the side, it was all worth it.
I had nice people around me and knowing the show would start at 7 it wasn’t such a terribly long wait. I even got to sit down for a bit. The show started a little later this time, but the lights went down at around 10 past 7. The band came out and they kicked it off with ‘My love will not let you down’. sadly, the first thing I noticed was the uneven sound and feeling the bass and drums in my stomach and, strangely, my throat, because we were right in front of the boxes. For a moment I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stay there, but luckily it got better soon. It helped that I was close enough to the stage to see the expressions on their faces.
‘Death to my Hometown’ was next, second new song that night and I was sure they were not going to play ‘No surrender’, but they proved me wrong immediately and I found myself smiling hugely. So far, there had been few breaks, Bruce had greeted us when he first stepped on stage and didn’t talk all that much otherwise, except for counting in the songs. ‘Ghosts’ was great and with the first songs, Bruce had already moved down to the middle platform, closer to the fans. It didn’t take long for him to come over to our side and I smiled even bigger, seeing him up close.
I enjoyed ‘Prove it all night’ and loved seeing the band play and interact with each other. They were all so good. When ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ started, the third new song that night (.i.e. different from Saturday), I wondered which ones he was going to leave out. I would learn that soon enough. First though, there was ‘Letter to you’ and Ioved it, marvelig at how well thought out the setlist was.
On ‘The Promised Land’, Bruce ventured to our side again, this time far out on front of the screen, singing to the people sitting on the side. It was such a rush of happiness and awe to be able to look at his smile and all the expressions on his face as he sang. <3 With ‘Out in the Streets’ it was the other side’s turn to get close and when ‘Kitty’s back’ started I was missing the first song – ‘Candy’s room’. I had no time to worry about that though, because the band delivered one hell of a performance with Bruce conducting the entire band.
During ‘Nightshift’ we got a treat with great percussion plus all the amazing backing singers. I honestly don’t care for the latest album much, but this was an excellent performance. 😀 ‘Mary’s Place’ picked up the pace again and had Bruce walking all over, pointing at people and shaking hands. When he was not on our side I watched the screen to catch people’s looks when he pointed or smiled at them – gig face all the way. 😀
After this big party song, Bruce grabbed an acoustic guitar and walked to the microphone. I wondered what he was going to play, but would have never guessed. It was Pay me my money down’ of off the Seegers Sessions album. Whaaat? It was a fantastic version too and ended in a sing along with Bruce conducting the audience and demanding we sing the chorus on our own. It took a few rounds for the words to come back to me. That song was so unexpected, it remained the biggest surprise of the night for me.
‘The E Street Shuffle’ was a fucking miracle and I was so much in awe of this band still being so amazing. It moved me, especially seeing them play together so well. all night they were taking cues from each other and they all looked happy doing it. I loved the moments when they played and sang together, the camaraderie. Then it was time for the acoustic guitar again. Bruce stepped up to the mic and delivered his speech about George Theiss and what death teaches you. “Be good to yourself and the ones you love”. Once again, his words really resonated with me and I could not help but cry. ‘Last man standing’ was powerful with just Bruce on the guitar and a lonely horn here and there. Wow. :´)
A killer version of ‘Backstreets’ followed and it ended in more tears for me when Bruce spoke about reminders he had like a guitar and a record collection, then laying his hand over his hard saying “and the rest I will carry right here” then singing softly “until the end…” We all saw a man fully aware of his mortally and handling it with grace. I hope I will reach this level of clarity and wisdom at one point. I got so choked up with tears, I could barely sing along to the final “Hiding on the backstreets….” lines.
Somehow, I had thought they had left out ‘Because the Night’, but it was just later in the set than I remembered. What a relief! All the tension went away as I sang along and the smile was back when I watch Nils play his amazing solo. I will never get enough of this song. Again, it went straight intro ‘She’s the one’ and it was perfect.
As ‘Wrecking Ball’ started, I looked over at R., who had been standing in line with me for two days and was now next to me, smiling happily, because she loves the song. I really enjoyed t too. “Give it your best show, show me what you’ve got, bring on the wrecking ball!” ‘The Rising’ brought more singing along for us and Bruce trading vocals with Steve. I looked at him and thought “he looks the same”. He somehow does not seem to have changes at all in the past 20 years.
‘Badlands’ came along with powerful guitars and everyone pumping their fists. I even jumped up and down. Jake, who has taken on the role of Clarence, stood with Bruce, hand in hand, arms raise above their heads and it felt iconic. Carrying on the legacy and doing so with honor. <3 This was the final song of the main set and it made me sad that they left out ‘Thunder Road’.There have not been many E Street Band shows in my life where Bruce didn’t play it. It felt wrong somehow.
The encores started with ‘Born in the USA’ blasting from the speakers in front of us so loudly it was not enjoyable at all and the sound was all but a great big mush. 🙁 Around that time, two people were pulled out at the front, because they were fainting. I felt so sorry for them. Luckily, the sound wasn’t as terrible for the rest of the encores and I had fun again with ‘Born to run’. 🙂
‘Bobby Jean’, again, was not my jam, but I understand its importance in Bruce’s history. Paired with ‘Glory Days’ though, it feels like one of those two could be left out. Oh, well, Bruce is going to tell this story his way and that is how it should be! Once again, he asked everyone if they wanted to go home and concluded that nobody did. Hell no! ‘Dancing in the Dark’ had me “movin’ about my place.” It ended with band introductions and then, Bruce stood there and dramatically ripped open his shirt, showing us all his chest. I remembered he had done that on Saturday as well and laughed about the gesture. I laughed even more, when he tried to button it up again. 😀
‘Tenth Avenue freeze-out’ was the beautiful tribute to Clarance and Danny it always is. Lost, but never forgotten. Then, as the band walked of stage, Bruce hugged each one of them. It was lovely to see. Ofter a final, long hug with Jake, he got handed his acoustic guitar again – from Kevin! Yes, Kevin ist still there and still catching guitars! He stepped up to the mic and ended the night with a beautiful acoustic version of ‘See you in my dreams’. I cried a few more tears, I sang the chorus with everyone else and looked around the arena as people held up their phone lights. At the end., Bruce thanked us one final time, told us the E Street Band loved us and left. It was perfect,
I chatted with R. on the way out, reminiscing about the great show. Goodbye, see you on the road! Happily, I walked back to my hotel, glad I had had the opportunity to see these concerts.
My Love Will Not Let You Down
Death to My Hometown
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Letter to You
The Promised Land
Out in the Street
Nightshift (Commodores cover)
Pay Me My Money Down
The E Street Shuffle
Last Man Standing (acoustic, with Barry Danielian on trumpet)
Because the Night
She’s the One
Born in the U.S.A.
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
I’ll See You in My Dreams