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Occupy E Street
Bruce and the gang have just unleashed what is their angriest and most politicised record yet, a scathing attack on the railroading of the American Dream by political and corporate fat cats. Stuart Clark journeys to Paris to meet The Boss who also waxes lyrical about Obama, Catholicism, Joe Strummer, Dylan, being a hopeless music fan and why it’ll take four people to replace Clarence Clemons
Stuart Clark, 20 Mar 2012
It’s one o’clock on a sunny Parisian Thursday and the ladies and gentlemen of the world’s media are gathering in Sony France’s palatial Rue de Chateaudeun offices for a playback of Bruce Springsteen’s new Wrecking Ball album followed by a Q+A session with Long Branch, New Jersey’s favourite son. Yours truly is feeling a bit shaky having just fought off a gang of marauding muggers at the nearby Gare du Nord railway station with a rolled-up copy of Hot Press. Actually, it was just one spotty 16-year-old oik who tried to relieve Le Rosbif of his Gio-Goi bag – 48-year old man + trendy designer label = male menopause – but it was still reason enough to down a restorative double Napoleon brandy in a pavement café. A legitimate journalistic expense for which, underlying their pathological stinginess, the HP Accounts Dept. has yet to reimburse me.
But I digress. A hundred or so multinational hacks and hackettes assembled, we’re herded onto a series of coaches for a Magical Mystery Boss Tour that after some nice panoramic views of the Seine, Louvre and Eiffel Tower eventually brings us to La Lucide Marigny, a palatial Olympia-style theatre located next to Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy’s equally palatial private residence. The lobby is lined with photos, the only one I recognise being that exponent of le jeu beau Eric Cantona who made his stage debut here a few years ago to universally merde reviews.
After a feed of champagne and macaroons – like the French Ferrero Rocher Ambassador, Mr. Springsteen knows how to spoil his guests – it’s into the main auditorium for a listen to Wrecking Ball through a massive PA, which is more suited to one of Bruce’s outdoor extravaganzas than an intimate belle époque space, which you can imagine Edith Piaf and Maurice Chevalier having revelled in.
It’s obvious after the first couple of deafening songs that it’s an angrier, more politicised and personal album than the last couple of E Street Band outings.
I’m not overly-surprised then when Broooce, clad Johnny Cash-style all in black and looking far healthier than any 62-year-old rock ‘n’ roller has a right to do, reveals that Wrecking Ball started life as “a solo folk record” in the vein of Nebraska and The Ghost Of Tom Joad, which he kept adding layers to – so many that he eventually realised it was a job for Steve, Nils, Clarence, Patti and the rest of the E Street Band.