The last time I was in Paris was the summer I turned 21. That was the summer of 1984 (quick! 21 plus 24, this guy is 45?). How can that be? I must say I found the city to be even more beautiful than I'd remembered it, and the people were simply extraordinary. My friend doesn't speak any French, and aside from "hello", "goodbye", "2 beers please", and a few other phrases, my French is rather nonexistent. But a little bit of effort was unfailingly met by a friendly willingness to help us out. My friend wore a large Barack Obama button throughout our trip which ended up being a great ice breaker. How many people came up to us to show support for our new President and express hope that America will turn to its previous role as a legitimate and lawful member of the international community? How many times did we express the shame we feel for what our country has done over the last 8 years? Again and again we were told that Americans have been very much looked down upon by the international community, but that our standing as a worthwhile country and people has immediately begun to rebound as the result of the recent election. I am truly sorry for what our government has done in the Bush era. I hope our new President has the opportunity to live up to the tremendous expectations the world clearly has of him.
Back to the show. Our limited French was put to a real test when we tried to find the venue itself which seems to have been deliberately hidden in a large park. "Bonjour Madam, ou est Le Trabendo, s'il vus plait?" With help from a local we finally found it and discovered to our delight that it was an intimate setting and that we were easily able to establish a spot dead center about 3 people back from Todd. I hope it wasn't a shock to the local fans to find two extremely enthusiastic American fans yelling out things like "you are so fucking great!" during the show, but we'd travelled over 3,000 miles that day and were ready to have a whole lot of fun.
The fun began with the opening act, Welsh singer Eugene Francis Jr. I had never heard of Eugene before this show, but by two songs in I was a convert. I usually (read: always) hate it when TR has an opening act. I end up feeling bad for the poor person because Todd fans are on a mission: to see the man sing and play. Eugene Francis was different. He had something completely worthwhile to offer the audience. By the second song when he sang "I don't want to live in a world that's ruled by religion" (or something to that effect), I knew this was a guy who thinks the way I do. I was mesmerized by his lyrics and fascinated by his multiple guitar tunings. This guy is the real deal, and I had the opportunity to tell him so after the London show (more on that in my London review). I hope you will consider it worthwhile to check out his website and give him a listen: (http://www.myspace.com/eugenefrancisjnr)
When Todd and the band came out it was clear they were in a great mood and ready to play a fantastic show. 3,000 miles for THIS? You'd better believe it. I will leave the review of the show itself to others. To me, what was so amazing was that here is a 60-year-old musician who's as fresh and talented as he was half of his life ago playing a brand new album from start to finish with high energy, and an incredible collection of musicians by his side. My favorite song on Arena changes every time I hear it. My favorite song of the night changed with each new song. There's not a dud in the list.
By the time the last note of JOV died down, my friend and I had completely exhausted our brains, our ears, our pumping arms, and our dancing feet. As we wearily walked back to the Metro station to ride back downtown and crash at our hotel, we smiled to each other and said, "dude, we get to do this all again in London." How cool is that?