I wrote a “Notes from the Road” column for Brucespringsteen.net (can be found at: http://brucespringsteen.net/news/2013/notes-from-the-road-paris ) which I won’t repeat here.
Judging by the reaction when Bruce announced the predictable choice of the “Born in the USA” album, a large part of the crowd was probably quite happy with the setlist. Then again, that can be expected when Bruce reduces his show to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
This was a disappointing show, as it underscores the big issue with this part of the tour: Bruce has run out of ideas, and he is falling back on full-album performances as he is not willing to try something else. If given the opportunity, I would be quite curious to hear from Bruce whether he is performing the albums because he wants to or if he thinks the fans want them.
Yes, this show was in a large stadium on a Saturday night (by Bruce’s choosing, of course) and he certainly should be playing material that can appeal to the crowd as a whole. The entire Born in the U.S.A. fully addresses that need. To add schlock such as “American Land” and “Pay Me My Money Down” (together with the indestructible “Waiting on a Sunny Day”) is simply unbelievable.
At the end of the show, prior to playing “Thunder Road,” Bruce took special note to thank his repeat customers , saying “I want to thank you guys who we see at so many shows.” The juxtaposition between that and a setlist where he couldn’t even be bothered to try moving slightly outside of his safest (a three minute version of “Lucille” doesn’t count), easiest and most over-played repertoire is inexplicable.
Not every show can be a Gijon or Tuku with several choice requests and an ambitious setlist. But certainly there can be a middle ground somewhere in which Bruce makes at least a minimal effort at challenging his audience, presenting a show that addresses his current music and does not simply rehash past glories.