Bruce Springsteen: The Wrecking Ball Strikes Europe

Bruce Springsteen 2013.jpg

It makes sense that the European continent would enthusiastically welcome Bruce Springsteen this summer on his Wrecking Ball Tour. Europe is in its second year of a prolonged recession, and its economic union looks like a failed savings and loan association. As he has in the past, the Boss is making The Grand Tour. Instead of gracing luxury hotel suites, though, he’s filling up the kinds of cost-overrun stadiums in Barcelona, Paris, Düsseldorf, and Cork that are one reason the European Union is starting to look like Youngstown.

I caught the Wrecking Ball in the Geneva soccer stadium, known locally as La Praille, that was built at the cost of millions for the UEFA European championships in 2006. It has since stood largely empty, a symbol that local politicians are better at spending bread than putting on circuses.

According to the stadium’s promoters, La Praille was to have played host to the local soccer team, FC Servette, which was “shackled and drawn” with bad debts just when the stadium was finished. Now the organizers are filling in with the odd rock concert, rugby friendlies, and the peripatetic longtime French rock and roller, movie star, and all around heartthrob Johnny Halliday, whose concert industry is the only thing standing between the EU and collapse.

Not even the Boss and the E Street Band could fill La Praille, although they arrived with a multiplex cinema in tow and started the concert at the distinctly suburban hour of 7:30 p.m., mindful that Switzerland is intolerant of rockers making noise after 10:00 p.m. (the hour in some Zurich apartment buildings when “upright urinating” is shut down).

The Boss’s handlers evidently taught him enough French (clearly not a subject pushed at Freehold Regional High School) so that when he came on stage he could say “bon soir” and “merci beaucoup” to a crowd so carefully dressed and well behaved that it could have been the summer jamboree of an international actuarial association.

Those toward the front held aloft carefully lettered signs welcoming the Springsteen to Geneva. These placards were not of the heavy-metal variety, suggesting after-party wastage or death to American droners, but rather mild exhortations to the Boss for song requests, or slow dances in the dark.

The Boss’s stage presence is much more upbeat than his lyrics. I am not sure anyone cared whether or not this town is “a death trap, it’s a suicide rap,” when he was cavorting with the crowd and mussing the hair of small children—Uncle Bruce from the Jersey Shore on his way around Europe.

As you would expect, he was dressed for the concert in the apparel of a hardware store assistant—tight shirt and jeans—although, in a concession to his age (63), he had two large wrist bands and what looked like sensible shoes (I'm guessing maybe Rockports?). During the performance he was in perpetual motion around the stage, with that uptempo air of '80s exercise guru Richard Simmons, and the same hypnotic effect on what in French are called “women of a certain age.”

From where I was standing, the E Street Band was a thin black line on a stage of Nuremberg proportions. Fortunately, the Boss had his own multi-screen video feeds, and all around the stadium there were cameras and roadies, beaming the concert live to the Megatron screens that surrounded the stage.

When I went on my toes to see Bruce or the band live, the E Streeters looked like porcelain miniatures in some Franklin Mint rocker collection (“...collect them all”).

On the nearby silver screens, however, the Boss and his cohorts were the size of floats in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. At times I felt like I was squeezed into the world’s largest electronics store with all the televisions tuned to the E Street network.

I confess that my middle-aged ears, even with the plugs they passed out at the main gate, could not pull down all the lyrics from the pulsing sound system. So I took it on faith that his girlfriend was pregnant, the plant was closing, and the Vietnam War wasn’t working out.

Because English is not as widely understood in Switzerland as you might think, I suspect that some of the lyrics were lost in translation. For example, in Geneva, “working on the highway” is practically a white collar job. I can imagine local puzzlement at the thought that anyone holding “a red flag” and watching “the traffic pass me by” would lead to the contemplation that there is “a better life than this.” Around here traffic wavers get early retirement and full European social benefits.

Nor are the American depressions that the Boss evokes equivalent to recent European hard times. Industrial America downsized and shipped the jobs to Asia ('death to my hometown') while the recession in Europe is the result of an overvalued currency and social costs for its aging population. Nobody is thinking 'we gotta get out while we’re young,' if the goal is to hang on until the state pension starts 'treating us good.'

I have no idea what the Boss is like at home. In person he sounds a little like Rocky Balboa saying “Yo, Adrian.” But his stage presence is magnetic, warm and empathetic. Because his wife, E Street band member Patty Scialfa, was tending home fires ('Got a wife and kids in Baltimore, jack'), the Boss danced with a number of women from the front rows—did their signs have phone numbers?—and he let numerous fans share his mic.

I was on my feet for four hours in what felt like a crowded elevator, waiting for the TV in the corner to play Born in the U.S.A. So, during the concert, I had time to reflect on the E Street corporate culture and came to the conclusion that Springsteen is an inclusive manager, something often missing in rigid, hierarchical European companies.

The band looks happy, and Springsteen Inc. is very good at retaining key employees, even though on stage Stevie van Zandt looked like a jet-lagged pirate and Nils Lofgren hopped around like a chimney sweep.

The irony of the concert is that it was held the night before the 4th of July, normally a moment, even overseas, when the United States can bask in its refracted glory. Before insurance premiums closed down the carousels, even Geneva had one of the largest July 4th parties abroad. Now, however, Swiss and American relations are at a low ebb.

Like the rest of Europe, the Swiss “celebrated” the 4th with the news that the National Security Agency has tapped European Union phones, much the way the U.S. has used local airports for rendition flights and beaten up on local bankers and the euro.

Nevertheless, the two flags of the so-called sister republics flew over the stage, 'waitin’ on a sunny day,' and the Boss closed with Thunder Road. When he belted out, 'It’s a town full of losers/ And I’m pulling out of here to win,' there was no hint as to whether he was eulogizing the American dream or European decline.

Matthew Stevenson, a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, is the author of Remembering the Twentieth Century Limited, a collection of historical travel essays. His next book is Whistle-Stopping America.

Flickr photo by Maripuchi: The Wrecking Ball Tour in Gijón, Spain, a few days before it arrived in Switzerland.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Besides that, your blog is

Besides that, your blog is so popular among the searchers from search engines.
mio m3

This is very nice post

Thanks for it, i have been seeking for information regarding this material for ages and yours is that the best I even have discovered up to now.Circulating Water BathHumidity chamber ,

are home warranties worth it

Thank you, I've been seeking for info about this subject matter for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.
complete appliance
are home warranties worth it

nice content

I would like Fat Loss Factor to pass on my appreciation for your liberality in backing of men and ladies that have the requirement for help with this specific concern.
fat loss factor Review

Buy High PR Backlinks

Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging.
Buy High PR Backlinks , Buy High PR Backlinks , Buy High PR Backlinks

I so keep asking with many

I so keep asking with many new threads. There tend to be many fascinating discussions that you just serve and also widely study. buying instagram followers

good post

I want you to thank for your time of this wonderful read!!! I definitely enjoy every little bit of it and I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff of your blog a must read blog!!!!
Ft Lauderdale Home Warranty
Home Warranty Florida

Posting which is in the

Posting which is in the content and the web page is remarkably anticipated by some people. All folks are looking forward to the arrival of your new submit. visit assisted living in seattle website

I so would like to know the

I so would like to know the following post. There are several people who anticipate this post with the patient when the admin ended up being writing the idea. I like this site :: Gel Mattress

great content

hi do you know we can lose weight by simply cut through our food intake?
by the way nice design of your website... Fat Loss Factor Review

Hi, good Day! Your post

Hi, good Day! Your post seems to be so informative.
We can get information's here which will widen our mind. Thanks for posting this.
Keep sharing and spreading informations. Looking for more. And i'll be keep updating in this site. God bless.
buy youtube views

Do Good and got well. You

Do Good and got well. You are have done a incredible as the art of writing depicted in the article
the venus factor reviews

self storage

making noise after 10:00 p.m. (the hour in some Zurich apartment buildings when “upright urinating” is shut down self storage

Gwen Burrow is an editor at

Gwen Burrow is an editor at EMSI, an Idaho-based economics firm that provides data and analysis to workforce boards, economic development agencies, higher education institutions, and the private sector. watch pretty little liars

Some people may be confused

Some people may be confused by this. There are many types of questions asked why he had to do a wrecking ball there. Alaska Hunting info…

All countries should

All countries should definitely pay attention to this issue. Not until there are many people who do not get this facility. modern furniture toronto

It will be one of the highly

It will be one of the highly anticipated moment by many people. Wrecking Ball is one of many events that did not happen. voted best Puerto Galera Resort Company website


Hello,i really like your website design... its great... petroleum engineering schools with How to Become an Electrician

It is an act which

It is an act which is not done by many people. wrecking ball is something that is deemed unnecessary for some people. Hummingbird Seattle Search Engine Optimization


I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained
Buy High PageRank BackLinks

It will be one that strikes

It will be one that strikes remembered by many people. There are quite a lot of things to do to achieve this one. GP Firearms

It looks like the audience

It looks like the audience will spend a lot of time to give to your spirit. You can do a lot of matters that will strikes. led spotlight


their quality of service such as; using quality and luxurious cars in their collections. And I hope with these quality collections people were getting fair car rental service in Croatia.
Six Month Project Training in in Java


thanks for this awesome web page, i like it...
gate solved papers

It seemed everyone will not

It seemed everyone will not miss this opportunity. They will come to the tour with friends or people who are both admired the singer. advocacy website for Auto Accident Personal Injury Attorney

Warm welcome of Bruce

Warm welcome of Bruce Springsteen this summer in Europe. Bruce Springsteen is a very famous and respected personality. I also buy an essay online for reviewing about his life and profession deeply.

I myself really like the

I myself really like the nice tour. It will be a very good tour experience you look forward to in the next year. It's very fun. bmw wheels for sale

It will be one of the very

It will be one of the very shocking news. Many people will get a surprise in this tour. This is a tour that is highly anticipated by many people. human hair lace wigs


I think the key themes boil down to how we talk to ourselves, how we respond to things, how we make meaning, who we spend time with, and how we make the most of what we’ve got. The other key thing is that happiness is dynamic and it’s not a static state. It’s about living, learning and growing, and rolling with the punches. I also think it’s important to think of happiness as a skill. Drive from happiness. For durable happiness, lead your happiness from the inside out.

Where to buy youtube views?

This is very good and great

This is very good and great !!!!!!!

buy youtube likes

This is very nice post

Thanks for it, i have been seeking for information regarding this material for ages and yours is that the best I even have discovered up to now.
Digital LCD Microscope

Not everyone can get a

Not everyone can get a chance to take a tour. All of this is a very valuable experience and can make a lot of people get a good lesson. Great site for American Dream Works Sacramento

The archive is updated with

The archive is updated with lots of videos everyday and all the videos from the past can be found here. Daddies little princess is all grown up and making those big life decisions. Like mouth or pussy, or pussy or ass. These things matter to us here. He's amateur porn video a modern man. Only attacking pussy that's been kicked out of more college dorm rooms than free thought and independent thinking. I gotta find where these "it's cool if people watch you treat me like a 3rd world prostitute on the Internet" girls are hiding.

You should comment on the

You should comment on the competition comparison of the blog. You can highlight it's mind boggling. Your blog exploration/tour will broaden your conversions.


lmao, I liked the bit about traffic waivers, and that last sentence in this paragraph was a brilliant insight:

"Industrial America downsized and shipped the jobs to Asia ('death to my hometown') while the recession in Europe is the result of an overvalued currency and social costs for its aging population. Nobody is thinking 'we gotta get out while we’re young,' if the goal is to hang on until the state pension starts 'treating us good.'"

I do think some Europeans are getting out... while they are still young, and banking their futures in former colonies of their home country, or the gems of the former common wealth of the british empire, namely America, Canada, and Australia.