Lucille (Godfatherecords G.R. 915/916/917)
Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France – 29 June, 2013
Disc 1: Intro: Once Upon A Time In The West, Badlands, Out In The Street, Lucille, Wrecking Ball, Death To My Hometown, Cadillac Ranch, Spirit In The Night, Intro to Born In The U.S.A. Album, Born In the U.S.A., Darlington County, Working On The Highway, Downbound Train, I’m On Fire
Disc 2: No Surrender, Bobby Jean, I’m Goin’ Down, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark, My Hometown, Pay Me My Money Down, Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, The Rising, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready]
Disc 3: We Are Alive, Born To Run, Ramrod, Tenth Avenue Freeze-out, American Land, Thunder Road
Bonus tracks: Hard Rock Calling, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, UK – 30 June, 2013: Prove It All Night, Johnny 99, Reason To Believe, Jungleland, My Lucky Day
With Lucille Godfather brings us a recording of Springsteen’s second appearance at the Stade de France, the first having been in 2003. After Ennio Morricone’s haunting music from the film One Upon A Time In The West dies away, the show begins, as Glenn Radecki writes on Springsteen’s official website, with the “energetic one-two punch” of Badlands and Out In The Street. Then, as Caryn Rose writes on the Backstreets website:
“At the end of the latter number, Bruce returned from stage right carrying a small cardboard sign: ‘I think someone’s trying to stump the band,’ he noted, holding up the request for ‘Lucille’ by Little Richard. There was some quick consultation around the stage as Steve [Van Zandt] and Garry [Tallent] conferred on chords, and in the end this was a perfect vehicle for the E Street Horns, who turned in a perfect rendition of the legendary riff that powers the song.”
Then comes the frequently played Wrecking Ball duo of the title track and Death To My Hometown, which is followed by a spirited rendition of Cadillac Ranch with an extended guitar solo from Van Zandt. An excellent performance of Spirit In The Night begins with Springsteen telling a brief story about visiting the Eiffel Tower one night with his mother and then he informs the audience, in French, that the band will play the complete Born In The U.S.A. album, the performance of which is summed up by Rose as follows:
“It was an above-average performance of the album: Max [Weinberg] turning in a fantastic, expressive solo at the end of the title track; a ‘Cover Me’ solo from Nils [Lofgren] that was only missing a trampoline somersault; a picture-perfect rendition of ‘Downbound Train'; Steve trying to get the crowd to clap along at the start of ‘No Surrender’ only to give up when they ignored him in favor of the jumping up and down they were already doing; and the best, Bruce bringing Nils down to a side platform for the now-traditional ‘Darlington County’ duet. Bruce seemed to physically drag Nils into the crowd with him, causing Nils to return to center stage doing the ‘koo-koo’ sign with his finger alongside his head in the direction of Steve and Garry.”
My own favourites from the performance, unmentioned by Rose, are an exuberant Glory Days and a poignant rendition of the album’s closing number, My Hometown.
After this the show continues with a lengthy and most enjoyable Pay Me My Money Down, featuring a washboard and spoons solo from Everett Bradley at the end in addition to plenty of input from the horn section, and a splendid Shackled And Drawn with a fine vocal performance from Cindy Mizelle. Waitin’ On A Sunny Day features the customary vocal slot for a child plucked from the audience. Then the main set ends strongly with The Rising and Land Of Home and Dreams, the latter culminating in the customary snippet of People Get Ready.
The encore begins with Springsteen paying tribute to, “thousands of musicians who, who we studied and who inspired us, who we learned from and who we can never repay except by playing our best for you. This is a song about how the voices of the dead always inform the lives of the living.” This acts as an introduction to the always-welcome We Are Alive. Things then move into more obvious encore territory, with Elliot Murphy and his son Gaspard joining Springsteen onstage (as they did at the Parc des Princes in 2008) for the performance of Born To Run. The main section of the encore continues with Ramrod, not a song of which I am fond although Rose reckons it “delightful and most welcome,” Tenth Avenue Freeze-out and American Land. Finally, as has been the case with several other European shows, Springsteen returns to the stage alone for an acoustic rendition of Thunder Road.
This is very enjoyable show, which, while not, in my opinion, among the very best of 2013, is nonetheless well worth having. There may be some truth in Rose’s contention, expressed on jukeboxgraduate.com, that, “there was nothing extraordinary or incredibly special or mindblowing about this show,” especially when one considers the high quality of the very best Wrecking Ball Tour shows. However, Rose, who has attended numerous shows, goes on to state that she, “is only holding [Springsteen] to the standard that HE SET,” and that, “on the other hand, I am pretty sure most people walked out of Stade de France thinking it was the best thing they’d ever seen.” Posters on the Jungleland website, several of whom attended the show, simultaneously provide a contrast to Rose’s reservations and support her latter contention: “it was a magical night!” (chrisz1956); “What a night!! (LB1999); ” I was among the crowd and it was a great gret [sic] moment!!…it was like paradise !!” (FromFrance); “a great night!” (sdp57fr); “A great show!!!” (rocden); “What a wonderful memory of a wonderful concert.” (magstrin); “fantastic show!!!” (thebosse) and “it was a wonderful evening!!” (Ozzy64).
One problem I do have with this release, however, is the omission of the three pre-show acoustic songs, This Hard Land, Burning Love and Growin’ Up, despite the existence of at least one tape that includes them, which I feel gives a sense of incompleteness. My sense of disappointment was compounded by Rose’s contention, also on jukeboxgraduate.com, that the pre-show songs were “magic.” However, Godfather does add a generous selection of bonus tracks from the following day’s Hard Rock Calling performance.
First up is Prove It All Night, played without the ’78 intro but featuring a guitar solo from Lofgren at the end. Then we get two songs from Nebraska which, were played consecutively at the show. Johnny 99 and Reason To Believe are both played in full-band versions, the latter, “in its full-band, blues-boogie arrangement,” as Radecki and Rose describe it on the Backstreets site. Both songs were sign requests and they were succeeded by a third number from Nebraska, Atlantic City, not heard here. Instead, the next number is the epic Jungleland. “The band executed an emotional performance of the track,” contend Radecki and Rose, “providing the fans with a powerful memory to take back home with them.”
Finally we hear an acoustic rendition of My Lucky Day. Springsteen had intended to finish, for the third show running, with a solo Thunder Road, but was diverted from this course of action by a fan sporting the name of the song in the form of a tattoo. “That’s worth a spontaneous number itself,” says Springsteen.
Two of the bonus tracks, Reason To Believe and My Lucky Day, have already appeared, also as extras, on Crystal Cat’s Wembley Stadium Wrecking Ball Night, together with Atlantic City.
The audience recording utilized for the main show is, overall, admirably full and dynamic and largely very clear and detailed and these qualities enhance the enjoyment of listening to this show. At times, however, clarity diminishes somewhat and there are very occasional minor fluctuations in sound quality. The sound quality of the bonus tracks, while entirely listenable, does not quite match that of the main show and it is also decidedly inferior to that of the bonus tracks on the Crystal Cat release. There is prominent audience chatter to be heard at times. Lucille comes with Godfather’s usual tri-fold packaging featuring the customary plethora of onstage photographs. The front cover, as can be seen above, shows a poster advertising the show against the background of the French tricolore. There is also a four-page foldover insert with notes by “Joe Roberts.” Overall, Lucille is another very worthwhile and attractive release from the Godfather label.