As you can see, the set list is more or less the same of the tour 2000. Variations include the exclusion of Old, That's where I belong, Pledging my love, American tune, Old friends, Once man's ceiling is another man's floor and The late great Johnny Ace. They are substituted by Mrs. Robinson, The sound of silence and Loves me like a rock. The first result is a significantly shorter concert. The band is the same of the previous tour and also arrangements are not different.
I beg your pardon if the following report is not perfect. These are mainly thoughts just written as they came out. I had not time for organizing them in a beautiful shape. I apologize and promise to make a
better work for the concert from Lucca. :-)
I had booked my tickets by fax directly from the organizer, D'Alessandro & Galli, payment by credit card. Going to the ticket office, they should simply give them to me, after showing the credit card. The point is that the organizer has sent the list of such tickets by courier (they didn't dare saying "express courier, luckily!) and the ticket office doesn't have the list. So they don't want to give me the tickets. After a series of phone calls they are still in trouble. I offer them the soultion: as I have booked non-numbered tickets, they should give me any two tickets and take note of my credit card number: it's a sufficient guarantee that they will be refunded if I am a liar! So I get inside quite late (8:45, the concert is due at 9). The square is divided into two by a large removable gate, separating the cheap ticket holders (standing) from the seats. Several large, steroids muscled bouncers (quite ridiculous in their self admiration) guard the gate, worried to death that some one might sneak into the sitting side of the square. The mixer is positioned exactly at the centre of the gate, excluding the stage from the view. Only on its side it's possible to look at the musicians. So, I understand the nickname of the city of Brescia, the she-lion, as we are closed in a cage.
The concert starts at 9:25, many many empty seats in the cheaper part of the sitting zone. In spite of the large empty spaces, the public is wonderful and sings and claps hands during all the songs since the beginning of the concert. Unfortunately, people sitting are not allowed to stand up and dance and go closer to the stage. and we, behind the barrier, even less. This absurd situation (which takes away every meaning to a live show, especially in an outdoor space like a square), is finally solved towards the end of the concert: during "Proof" rain starts to fall. my waterproof poncho becomes the shelter of several people singing "The boxer" in a loud voice! Finally, all the people sitting stand up, runs towards the stage; also the security opens the gate and we are able to get closer.
The highlights of the show are "Bridge over troubled water" (wonderful in this arrangement), "I am a rock" (a lot like "Like a rolling stone" by Dylan, in the kind of sounds used), "The boy in the bubble", "Graceland", "Me and Julio down by the schoolyard" and "The teacher". Some little notes: during "me and Julio" Vincent Nguini plays a riff, in the instrumental, reminding a lot of "La Bamba"; the drums and percussion solo at the end of "The boy in the bubble" is astonishing beautiful every time. The new arrangement of "Kodachrome" sounds more precise and smoother, this time: when I had heard it for the first time, two years ago, it was somehow rough - now it works better, it's softer;two albums (hearts and bones & the capeman) have completely disappeared from the set-list. The show is a very good one, with musicians of absolute value and immensely gifted. It is worth seeing it, in spite of the price. Nevertheless, I had the overall feeling that the songs have not been practised too much. There were several when the musicians seemed to hesitate and a very bad mistake at the beginning of "50 ways": Alain Mallet didn't start playing and all the musicians stopped, except Paul and Gadd. For sure this kind of problem will disappear as the tour goes on.
The arrangement of "The sound of silence" was pleasant. The guitar part is that played live in Central Park 1991, but played with an acoustic guitar. The cello perfectly joins the guitar and Paul's voice.
I must also say that, personally, having seen the shows in 2000, I am a bit disappointed. I would have hoped in some novelties and some "rarities" or gifts in the set list. On the contrary, Paul has taken away all the unusual songs (like "On man's ceiling" or "Pledging my love") and has substituted them with the "safest" songs, like "Mrs. Robinson" and "The sound of silence". It seems a bit that he wanted to make the "average" listener happy, or that he wanted to fish for compliments. My very personal idea is that he could have played this songs AND some special too: a song from the Capeman, something rarely used live from One Trick Pony, some other song from the period between 1970 and 1983: it would have been a surprise and a gift for the hard core fans. Also, I don't really understand the exclusion of songs like "That's were I belong".
About the band, I wish to underline the extraordinary power of the horn players, simply wonderful, and of the percussionists. During "Mrs Robinson" a child, who according to his size might well be Adrian Simon, joined Jamie Haddad on percussion. He played with a lot of fun, perfectly on time. He was not introduced to the public (and not everyone noticed him). The sound quality was very good in the back of the square (cheapest tickets), close to the mixer. When I moved closer to the stage, the quality was less good. At the end of the show Paul thanked the public several time bowing and putting hands on his chest. He also thanked the public for remaining to the concert in spite of the rain. Well, that's worth an extra encore! LOL!
For those interested to these details, Paul was wearing a very simple olive green t-shirt, blue jeans, black cap, black shoes. No news about the rest, please ask Edie about his underwear! LOL!
Finally a notation on instruments. No variations about them (same guitars used during the previous tours), except for Vincent Nguini (much thinner than I remembered him: acutally, at the beginning I could not recongnize him as he was also wearing a cap. He used to play Gibson guitars, last night he played with some Fender (or Fender-like) too.
More comments after the concert in Lucca, of which I will report too.