Paris Wrecking Ball Second Night (Crystal Cat Records CC 1010-1012)
Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, Paris, France – July 5, 2012
Disc 1: Intro – Au Clair De La Lune, The Ties That Bind, No Surrender, Two Hearts, Downbound Train, Candy’s Room, Something In The Night, We Take Care Of Our Own, Wrecking Ball, My City Of Ruins, Spirit In The Night
Disc 2: Intro, Incident On 57th Street, Because The Night, She’s The One, Working On The Highway, I’m Goin’ Down, Easy Money, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, The Way You Do The Thing You Do, 6354-789, For You, Racing In The Street
Disc 3: The Rising, Out In The Street, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready], We Are Alive, Thunder Road, Born To Run, Glory Days, Seven Night To Rock, Dancing In The Dark, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
The exceptional second night from Paris is the best show I have heard from the Wrecking Ball Tour. It has already appeared on the Godfather label with the title Au Clair De La Lune and readers are directed to my review of that release, posted on 16 August 2012, for details of the performance. Consequently, this review will concentrate on matters of sound quality and packaging.
The Brucebase website is clearly impressed by the sound of Paris Wrecking Ball Second Night, referring to the sound source as, “an excellent IEM/audience mix.” GlennR, posting on the Stone Pony London message board, writes, “I think this is the first-ever circulating IEM from the backing singers feed. They’re a little too high, horns a little too low. A nice recording nonetheless,” and this is lent some credence by the comment of gerjanne, on the Jungleland site, who states, “some percussion instruments and backing vocals (in The Ties that Bind for example) are way up in the mix.” However, on SPL, dvd_dubbing_guy (who is clearly the same person who posts on Jungleland as olli66), claims that, “in CCs version there is…one AUD source and propably [sic] multiple? IEMs.”
As to the quality of the sound, some posters have been very impressed. Mr-soul writes on SPL that, “Paris sounds as the next best thing to being inside the Bercy arena. Full, guitar driven beat, drums right in the centre and no compression at all,” and on Jungleland blossabella calls this a “warm and lovely recording…its [sic] amazing how powerful…the band sounds…lot of details.” On Jungleland olli66 initially seems quite impressed, writing, “wow, lot of instruments and voices I did not recognize live, nice mix, though just a little high I think.” Then, on both Jungleland and SPL, he becomes highly critical, stating, “I get tired after two songs listening to it…for my taste too less live feeling and to narrow sounding.” Responding to mr-soul (in a rather unpleasant post for which he later apologizes), he writes, “it does not by far sound powerful, live or emotional. it sounds pretty flat,” though he concedes that, “at least it is not compressed like all other CC releases. One step in the right direction…” (This, of course, is the same person who made such hostile comments about Godfather and he is similarly damning in generalized comments about Crystal Cat, stating, “they mess up all recordings, it has always been that way…the mastering is bad on all CCs.” The label has, of course, often been praised by collectors for quality of sound, something he dismisses by rather arrogantly arguing that, “nobody these days knows anymore or young people never knew what a good mastered recording is.”)
My own view is more in sympathy with Brucebase, mr-soul and blossabella. With regard to GlennR’s comment, some listeners may indeed have a few reservations about the sound balance. For example, on the Apollo Medley the backing singers dominate, with the horns sounding just a little recessed, and backing vocals are also quite prominent on some other songs. However, I found this a minor issue which, overall does not detract from the full, clear sound which enhances the pleasure of listening to this show. I concluded in my review of Godfather’s Au Clair De La Lune that the sound was “exceptional,” but it is an audience recording and it now gives way to this fine new release.
Paris Wrecking Ball Second Night comes in Crystal Cat’s customary lavish and beautiful packaging. The front and back inserts, the 28-page booklet and the discs themselves display a splendid selection of onstage photographs, including shots of the girl who sang on Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, of Jessica Springsteen, who danced with her father during Dancing In The Dark, and of Springsteen’s mother Adele, who was in the audience. The booklet also reproduce a ticket for the show. The booklet additionally features the track listing, band personnel and the account of the show by Caryn Rose and Glenn Radecki from the Backstreets website. There are also two further inserts. The first, tri-fold insert shows, on the inner side, a panoramic view of the band on stage. Two panels of the outer side show the band from behind; the third depicts a Paris street with a poster advertising the two concerts. The second additional insert, a single sheet, shows a photo of the setlist on one side and a view of the audience from the perspective of Springsteen’s microphone on the other. The booklet and inserts are printed on Crystal Cat’s usual glossy paper and the overall effect is stunning.
The second Paris show is the best Wrecking Ball Tour show to have made it on to silver disc and the Crystal Cat version is now the one to have – it is well worth upgrading to this release even if you already own Au Clair De La Lune.