Sunday, May 4, 2008

Boot Tracker, May 10th 2006, Paris

With the band at home taking a break, I figured it would be a nice moment to wind back a tour, back to gay Paris in 2006 for the Seeger Sessions Tour. I know this tour doesn't stand for the most favorite tour Springsteen ever did. It came hot of the heels of the solo acoustic D&D tour and seemed to hopelessly divide the fans of the man. Some fans called it the Jug Band Tour, not even trying to hide their disdain for the project. Especially in America the tour wasn't all that well received, with some venues only have sold out. I've often wondered why. The music Springsteen brought with the Sessions Band stands as some of the freshest he ever did, there were tour debuts almost every night, rare one off covers and new songs debuted through out the tour. You'd have thought this was '76 all over again. But after three years, not counting the Vote For Change Tour, off the road with the E-Street Band, fans were dying for "Born To Run" to blow them away again. Especially American fans had a hard time dealing with a show filled with, so I later understood, songs they were taught in kindergarten. For Europeans these Folk songs held something exotic, American audiences had been beaten to death with from early age.

To me at least the tour certainly sounded exotic. I'm a big Country fan, own the odd Folk CD and am absolutely in love with early Jazz and the sounds of New Orleans. The Sessions Band tour combined all this in one red hot explosion of music. The way Springsteen combined all those various styles in American music, from Amos Milburn and Louis Jordan to Hank Williams and Elvis, was unprecedented and highly unorthodox. It was undoubtedly an approach that made the Folk purists smile in bemusement, if not shudder, at this odd form of stadium Folk. Listening to Paris now all that enthusiasm and exitement I felt then for the tour comes back to me. Few tours allow you to sign along and dance your ass off from the first opening bars, few tours can make material you've known for years seem completely fresh. I played "Cadillac Ranch" from this recording over and over when it first came out. I can still feel my throat getting soar from singing "Blown away!!" at the top off my lungs, still get chocked up from hearing Springsteen's version of "When The Saints Come Marching In".

Question is though if you need a bootleg of this tour next to the excellent "Live In Dublin" release. No bootleg is ever going to capture this tour in such high fidelity. My answer to that question would be yes. Aside from the fact that "Live And Dublin" had edits in the songs and the blazing "You Can Look (But Better Not Touch)" was left on the floor of the cutting room, there was a huge difference between those first legs and the last European leg. During this first European leg the band had a delightful raggedness to them. Though the band clicked from the get go, they sometimes sounded like a wildly exiting jumbled mess, a feeling they lost during that second leg. By then the Sessions Band was a well oiled machine, loosing some of its initial charm. This Paris recording would be a very good alternative indeed if you decide to add a little something to your Sessions Band collection. It is an excellent audience recording featuring the debut of "Bring Them Home", a turning point in the tour. What started as a breezy and off beat album got more political as the tour progressed, Paris was the turning point. If politics aren't your thing though, you can always join the "Buffalo Girls" while their dancing the Parisian night away.

Download the full show here

"Cadillac Ranch"

MP3 File

Recording: 4 out of 5
Show: 4,5 out of 5
Artwork: none


Francesco said...

Have you ever heard Crystal Cat "Milano Session Night"? I have hundreds (thousands?) of bootlegs but this is one of the best recordings, if not the best one, Mr CC ever did. Unfortunately it's a Session Tour bootleg... :-)

SoulBoogieAlex said...

I did, and I agree, Milano Sessions night is one of the best recordings from that tour. Better than the one I reviewed here. If you had to pick only one recording from this tour, "Milano Sessions Night" is one of the strongest contenders, if not the bootleg to go for.

Still, I have a weak spot for the Paris show for some reason. It is a very nice recording and holds some historic significance on account of "Bring Them Home" debuting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. Sure, the U.S. audiences might have been underwhelming in some regions, but the show I went to in SF they were incredible. Just like the performance.
I've been to tons of Bruce shows of various band/solo configurations and I really think the SSB tour was the essence of Bruce. So dynamic! I wish he'd done more...