2003-05-24, Stade de France, Paris, France

The Rising Tour
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Appr. 2 hours, 50 minutes. "Trapped" and "Be True" are tour premieres. "Seven Nights to Rock" is a cover of a tune by Moon Mullican and has never been done by Bruce before in concert. A couple of hours prior to the show, Bruce appeared on stage with an acoustic guitar and performed Does this Bus Stop at 82nd Street?, Growin' Up , and This Hard Land to the few hundred people who were inside the stadium.

Eyewitness accounts

Were you there? Write about it!
Herbert Klingbei wrote: Bad weather report on Paris Stade de France, as well as on political relations between France and the USA, maybe it was a hint for the right intro to the show, Who'll stop the rain,.

I reminded that Bruce did a magnificent version of that anthem, back in april 1981, a few miles away from here in the Palais des Sports de St Ouen, for his first shows in France. I just lusted for him to start the show with this one, not for geopolitical reasons - well, not only ! - but because this song is indeed the "mother of all covers".

And when, at 8:30 PM, Bruce hit the first verse "Long as I remember, the rain's been falling down ", bang!, the crowd of approx. 40.000 freezed fans went completely wild. The rest was history Well I can hardly wait to get that pure gem on the web !

The other highlights of this show were indisputably the older ones : The Ties That Bind, My Love Will Not Let You Down, Trapped, The Promised Land, Badlands, Out in the Street, Bobby Jean, and Born to Run.
Best of all was Jungleland with a splendid duet intro of both Soozie an Roy, a fantastic sax solo from Mister C, and powerful and evocative vocals from Bruce. Be true was just OK, maybe a bit of an inappropriate downer after the crowd pleaser Waitin' on a sunny day. The end of the show was wild again with Ramrod, and this cover Seven nights to rock, both with terrific piano parts from Professor Roy Bittan.

When Bruce and the band launch the "Land of Hope and dreams" train, it began pouring cats and dogs
At the end of the song, Bruce couldn't help but stare, amazed at the sky and the pouring rain. As a reward to the stoic crowd, he decided to keep "singing in the rain", and closed the show with a blazing version of Dancing in the dark.

Joel wrote: As i arrived at the stadium early on saturday morning, it started to rain. Standing in line for the whole day, getting to share experiences with so many Bruce fans from allo over the world was really worth it. As the rain was falling down, i bet with some fans that the we would get "Who'll stop the rain" as opener, as idid on the Reunion Tour in Copenhagen. A fan from the USA desperately wanted Jungleland. As the doors opened around 6:30 pm, people started to rush in. My only disappointment of the night goes to the F.... machines at the entrance. For some reason, many of the fans, who had been waiting for hours couldn't get in because the tickets barcodes would not be read by the machines. I was one of those. I feel this is totally unacceptable for the organization of this kinda event with 50 000 people waiting at the gates. Anyway, after minutes of negociation i was able to access the floor where, to my delight, Bruce was onstage with his guitar, leather jacket and hat on, entertaining the incoming folks with an accoustic pre show!!!!!! Thus, we got to gear Growing up and This Hard land. 2 hours later, as everything was set for the concert to start, rain started to pour down. I guess Bruce couldn't delay the start for so long and as the band took the stage, he launched into the first line of Who'll stop, and that made my whole day worth it, getting people alive and kicking, forgetting about the rain. Trapped, was a big moment of the first half of the show, with great crowd participation, such as for My Love. Be True is a good rocker, but maybe No Surrender would have been better. In these kinda conditions, with rain pouring down from time to time, the second part of the show turned out to be a big rocking party with Badlands,Out in the Streets,Jungleland, Mary's Place etc...Bruce looked like he was 25, sliding on his knees across the stage, hanging upside down on his mic, and looking amazed by fans standing in the rain. The encores, starting off with Bobby Jean, and all the waving arms as Bruce waved his guitar were so much fun, going on with a killer Born to Run and a never ending Ramrod. I was expecting the Detroit Medley, but Bruce pulled out another surprise, and this 7 nights To Rock, that was rehearsed, turned out to be very good. The end of the show was close, and as the band launched into Dancing In the Dark with the lights on, nobody really cared anymore about the rain and! I think this was the biggest hit for the people in the stands, who seemed a bit quiet during other songs. For us in front of the stage, it was the last occasion to jump in rythm with Bruce. So after all, this was yet another great performance by THE man, putting his heart an soul to his job. I got Who'll stop the rain, and my fellow American fan got Jungleland. I have only one french word to teach Bruce : REVIENS!!!!!!! (come back!!!!) I wish the fans attending the upcoming concerts to have a blast, just as we had in Paris. Tramps like us....

Olivier Rival wrote: Just to add to the first comment that there was probably much more than 40000 people there staurday. As the stadium can host 80 000 people for a soccer game , there was probably 50 000 people in the stands and more or less 10 000 more on the field. The show was awesome. It was my fourth Bruce's concert and it was a lot better than the Lyon's concert i saw during the "reunion tour" , almost as good as the 1992 Barcelona one! (and i don't know how you can top that one!). All the new songs look a lot better live than in the album. Best song of the night for me was the magic version of Jungleland Bruce gave us .

Paul Chang wrote: What a show! Flew five hours from Perth to Singapore with a 10 hour layover at Singapore airport, then flew to Paris via London (15 hours), met up with my buddy Chris to attend a fantastic show! It was pissing down raining before the show, and I just _knew_ that he was going to play Who'll Stop the Rain as the first song. What a blast that was! The other highlights were Trapped and Be True and of course Seven nights to rock (and seven nights to roll!, whoo hoo!). Never heard this last song before in any form, so it was a real treat for me and for Paris.

It rained/poured several times during the concert and my eyeglasses fogged up because of the sweaty and wet people around me in the pit. Thankfully, jumping up and down like an idiot to the music unfogged them. :) I had fun during the rain (got totally soaked) keeping tabs on the songs that had a 'rain' reference in them. These are the ones I can remember: Who'll stop the rain; Mary's place (let it rain....); Waiting on a sunny day (it's raining, but there ain't a cloud in the sky...); the ties that bind (You sit and wonder just who's gonna stop the rain); Worlds Apart ('Neath Allah's blessed rain); my city of ruins (And the rain is falling down); Bobby Jean (now we went walking in the rain). Just tons of fun.

Two other highlights for me: towards the end of the piano solo by Roy during Ramrod, a kid (about 6-7 years old) comes out and puts Roy's hat on his head as he's playing; then during Dancing in the Dark, Jon Landau comes out and plays guitar with a big cheesy grin on his face. Springsteen concerts - a real family affair!

FYI: These were the songs we heard during the soundcheck at about 6:00 PM: Does this bus stop/growing up/this hard land.

Marciano wrote: Vive le Boss It s Boss time!

The prospects didn t seem that great. The clouds were dark and rolling, the rain determined, the Stade de France a bit like a prison we were politely waiting to willingly incarcerate ourselves in.

While waiting at my gate, the band s soundcheck floats over to us: some tantalising Telecaster-like chords, a few whacks from the drums, some lovely, ethereal saxophone probably Clarence, demonstrating the versatility and sensitivity that he rarely reveals during shows or on record.

Then the band tried out a song a clipped, vigilant intro that I m pretty sure that no one has heard on stage for many years: Trapped , the one edgy diamond in that pool of artificially sweetened self-righteous mush that was We Are the World. Bruce comes in on the verses, but hangs back from the chorus, as if lost for words but more likely just saving his larynx for later. It s a real surprise, but one that, disappointingly, doesn t seem to affect the waiting crowd. In fact, the soundcheck drifts past most of them with almost no noticeable effect, as if they feel somehow only free to lose their sense of containment and show their excitement at the allotted time, ie. showtime. The rest of the soundcheck is the first half of The Rising , Lonesome Day , followed by a couple of runs through what seems until much later to be a pretty routine old rocker, Seven Days to Rock . That s it, apart from a waft of an acoustic, slide-driven Born in the USA , drowned in part by the in-house PA playing a slew of 80 s soft-rockin hits, (which is later fortunately replaced by Little Steven s admirably eclectic Underground Garage, even if it is drowned out at regular intervals, this time by apocalyptically crashing adverts played over the stadium s main screen.)

At 6pm, we re in and queuing to be searched. Why by the way do we put up with the ridiculous rule of no plastic bottles (even of water)? It s a scam. I smuggle mine in anyway, my token act of resistance for the day.

Just as I begin to run towards the stage to grab myself a fine piece of floor to stand on, I hear Bruce s voice and strummed acoustic chords. A bolt of excitement runs through the new entrees; I enter the stadium to see a sole figure on stage, in black leather jacket, jeans and baseball cap, playing to a crowd of maybe 800 damp but hardcore fans going doolalley with shock and excitement to be witnessing such an event. I pick up as much extra speed as I can on the slippery white plastic surface. First off, I think, it s Does This Bus Stop at 42nd Street , then, after a smile and a Welcome to the early show , it s a singalonga Growin Up . Lastly, once he s worked out the tuning, the key and the right harmonica, it s a dour and dusty This Hard Land , which only really catches fire at the very last with the stay hard, stay hungry climax, boosted by the crowd s singing. Then, with a toodle-oo (a strangely English farewell which must have bemused both French and US listeners), and See you later , he s gone.

In the crowd, we look at eachother in disbelief, me thinking not for the first time during a long night that Springsteen has an extraordinary ability to humanise these cold, corporate spaces, mostly with sheer openness and generosity of spirit. OK, we know that he ll get a king s ransom from these shows, (though to be fair, we don t know how much of that he ll give away eventually), but somehow he zones seemingly effortlessly in on our sense of shared humanity.

Maybe the best example of this is the way he deals with the downpours that land on the crowd during the show. First we get the impromptu early show. Then, since the rain starts again just as the crowd takes the stage, we get the predictable but thoroughly right Who ll Stop the Rain , which unites the crowd in its shared adversity, and the crowd with the band. But, for Bruce, there s a problem: the stage is covered, so the band is dry when the crowd on the pitch is soaked. So what does he do? He takes a swig of water, walks to the mic and sprays it explosively into the air above his head. Later, he does the same over Clarence (wearing a very natty suit and fedora-type hat, it has to be said), in mid-solo. And then there are the knee slides down the soaking space below the stage designed for Bruce to do some dancing, meeting and greeting at each side of the stage. (Actually, he did the water sprays and knee slides at an overcast but bone dry show in London the following week, but I like my theory, so I ll leave the examples in all the same.)

It s tremendously affecting, but also shows how the distance between himself and ordinary (working) people must be distressing as well as a challenge to him. But, as elsewhere, a problem, while still containing elements of dishonesty, becomes a source of inspiration.

Anyway, less of the sociology and psychoanalysis, what about the show? The Rising and Lonesome Day were carried by the band s conviction and passion, and the crowd seemed genuinely excited to hear them. How the band manages to infuse the same songs with intensity and meaning night after night, year after year, is a constant mystery to me, and the pleasure from seeing them succeed in that is immeasurable. (Having said that, I think Badlands , Promised Land and sorry, but I have to speak this heresy - Born to Run , have worn their tyres bald, though the crazed delight they triggered in the Paris crowd showed me that I was pretty much alone in that opinion.)

The Ties That Bind the song that catapults the listener into The River with such a soaring lust for life even in the midst of its lyrical resignation was high on my request list, and a real highlight. But one of the most affirming things about the night which was, I hasten to add, easily as good as the best gigs of my life, ie. the River tour in London and Birmingham back in 1981 was that the highest points for me were the Rising songs. Bruce and Patti harmonising on Empty Sky and his delicate acoustic picking on that song, the stillness of her wordless Eastern-inflected singing on the intro to the rejuvenated arrangement of Worlds Apart (even if the tape of the Qawwali singers seemed to slow them down during the song s raging instrumental conclusion), the sheer joy and affirmation of Mary s Place , with its Clarence-approved 3 rules of a real house party: One, it s got to be righteous Two, it s got to be righteous and Three you have to get your French ass out of your French seat! (which almost, accidentally I m certain, sounded as if it was heading towards some more serious French-baiting, but was taken well by the locals. In fact, Mary s Place had it all for me deep showband soul, gospel fervour, hilarious pantomime goofing and a barely concealed sense of loss bubbling up through the middle.

The last Rising song of the night My City of Ruins featured the band s backing vocals at their most gorgeous and haunting. The song ended with Roy playing the plaintive dying chords, with Bruce keening heartbreakingly at its very end, the crowd of 50,000 or so absolutely silent until the last note had floated away. That was another wonderful, miraculous aspect of the night the crowd s ability to stay with Bruce every step of a rollercoaster ride from madcap comedy, through the depths of vulnerability, heartbreak and introspection, and back to raucous rock n roll in the space of three or four songs, was unbelievable. There were no Broooce s , no chatting through quiet songs, and only a bit of half-hearted Euro football-style chanting towards the end during the very short wait for encores. Wow, all that sensitivity and yet we still managed to go nuts when the moment called for it. No wonder Bruce dropped to one knee and hit his heart with his fist during one of the band s final bows at the front of the stage.

Other highlights? Clarence standing stock still in the centre spotlight after playing his showstopping though sadly never-varied solo on Jungleland , his face a mask of sadness, then Bruce walking up, gently putting his hand on Clarence s shoulder and taking over the spotlight for the final, wrenching lines of the song, using the same understated yet devastating version of the melody to be found on the Live in NYC album. Also, a spectacularly stoopid Ramrod , Bruce frozen by the question What time is it? , and only woken by Steve s Vive le Boss It s boss time! , one of the many times when the transparently good time being had by all cracks up the whole crowd and raised the energy a good few notches. Then there was Bruce dissolving into giggles mid-verse after a mysterious altercation stage right during Out in the Street . (It seems that a good test of how spontaneous and genuine the front-of-stage antics are is to look at Garry Tallent s face if he s smiling, it seems much more likely that it s for real, since he s not a performer so much as a player (and playing beautifully as always, may I add.)

The torrential downpour much stronger than the showers that greeted even Waiting on a Sunny Day accompanying Land of Hope and Dreams seems to intensify the experience somehow, leading Bruce to add a line about the rain after a line about a train. A man next to me who could have been in his mid-40 s, seemed before the show began to be a typically quiet, middle-class Frenchman, but the glow of joy on his face as we shared our excitement was a wondrous thing. Alongside us were two fans in their early twenties who shared my 39-year old s passion for the way Bruce s music and ethos is so bedrock-grounded in that old chestnut how to be good, as well as a sense of community, mutual aid and some sort of battle-scarred triumph over adversity and managing to make that mouthful fun. Never in a 100 years did I expect to get such a feeling of shared euphoria and private intimacy from a Springsteen stadium show. If only this redemptive, healing experience was freely available not in stadiums but on the street corners and in the meeting halls of every one of the world s cities, towns and villages. Methinks I do dream of a better world

My new friends and I walk away from the Stade de France, me with a renewed sense of hope for what human nature can achieve, and renewed energy to take on the forces that seek to keep us asleep and/or at war with eachother for the sake of their power and profit. We walk through late night Paris raving about the gig, discussing humanity s chances of making a go of things without capitalism, and wondering which bar we will take a drink in.

Geert wrote: A lot is already said about this show. We were also at gate A and I still can go crazy about the gates that didn't open properly. So, I missed the acoustic mini-set, my camera ended in a dustbin and we were soaking wet from the rain (we were at 8am at the gate!)
But hell, how can someone forget his anger so quick. Bruce and the band came on stage and you already knew that Who'll stop...would be the opening. What happened after this one is one big happy show. It was raining cat and dogs and the harder it rained: the crowd went even more crazy. I think that every last show you've seen is the best...but this one will always be special. Thanks Tim&T to make it possible.

Nicola Ventolini wrote: Well, me and my girlfriend, we flied to Paris to finally meet the Boss & the E street! When we got off the Metro it started raining! Was it a coincidence, you can t walk away from the price you pay . So, I always said I d do anything for Bruce because his music changed me and my life in a land of hope and dreams. We waited the gates to open for 4 hours, sitting on concrete with Springsteenian people. All of a sudden emotions ran through all my body when during the soundcheck Bruce sang his masterpiece the rising . Keyboard introduced it, than came Bruce s voice, and another dream came true. That dream begun when I first heard one year ago his strongly waited new album, and now it was time to celebrate it. After that, there was a soundcheck of trapped , awesome, and this let us expect for a lot of surprises in the concert to come. I was amazed that people waiting there for hours didn t stop talking and contemplate the soundcheck gift. Anyway, rain stopped and at 6 gates opened. People weren t running as I saw in previous concerts, so I walked too. We were walking to the court when I heard an acoustic version of Darkness on the edge of town . I thought It was an old Tom Joad live on air, but when I turned the corner, Bruce was there waiting for us, with acoustic guitar and harmonica. We got completely crazy and we run in the crowd as close to him as we could. My greatest remorse is that I couldn t find a ticket to the Tom Joad tour, and this was my beautiful reward, thanks Bruce. Sound was perfect, but what amazed me was Bruce s voice, It was perfect, sweet and powerful. The chorus in this hard land was unforgettable, his voice was supreme, a poetry in rainy air. When, our common friend said see you later we all couldn t believe what had just happened to us. Right before Bruce came back with the band, It started raining again, and Bruce found us worn like a mountain expedition. ....and with a perfect sounding guitar, we forgot the rain all singin who ll stop the rain . Bruce could read in our hearts, and he turned the rain in gold. After that, I finally danced and screamed the rising , but I couldn t see Bruce because my glasses were covered in rain drops. Anyway, the crowd was hot, and Lalala chorus of the rising faded into lonesome day . People screamed like praises these songs, I felt like home. After that, we had an unexpected but memorable the ties that bind , where Bruce and the band declared a night of sound perfection. We had no time to think and breath, because we had a marathon through my love will not let you down and Trapped , glorious! Then came romantic time, when Patty and Bruce arose their chorus and gave us contemplation time through you re missing . After that, we jumped and danced, it was a great party, from waiting on a sunny day to Mary s passing through the usual explosive Badlands when we spent more time flying than ever. In my opinion, the best part of the show was Jungleland, where piano left Bruce voice empire, and the band flew perfectly passing from quiet

J wrote: After a 20 minute delay, Bruce and the band came out with a roaring version of Who'll Stop The Rain, in light of the fact thousands of fans were getting a thorough soaking.

Next up was The Rising, the first singalong of the evening.

Highlights included the rarities Be True and Trapped as well as an amazing Jungleland - with Clarence Clemons at his best - an extended Mary's Place when Bruce called Clarence the 'centre of the universe as we know it' and Ramrod, arguably one of his worst ever songs which when performed live becomes a tour de force.
Predictably it rained again - with Bruce changing the lyrics to Land of Hope and Dreams, adding in 'people are getting wet'.

An energetic, lively (Bruce hanging upside down on his mic stand was a high point) and at times highly moving show (acoustic versions of Empty Sky and You're Missing were incredible).

After nearly three hours we wanted more and two weeks later we are still raving about the show.


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