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Ray Wilson at 15Springsteen

Ray Wilson @ 15Springsteen

Radio Trojka & Ray Wilson honor Springsteen's shows

Over 15 years ago, on 9th May and 10th May 1997 Bruce Springsteen gave two concerts in Poland. Shows took place in The Congress Hall, Warsaw. As it turned out later, this was the first and the last time, when he played in my beautiful country. Polish Bruce Springsteen Fanclub "Blood Brothers Poland" with help of Polish Radio Trojka decided to celebrate those remarkable events in a special way. An exhibition was made, where people could see pictures from various Springsteen concerts taken by polish fans who travelled around Europe to see their favourite artist. What’s more, there was a stage in garden of Radio Trojka, where concerts would be played. Organizers announced two bands and one special guest. All of them would perform some Springsteen covers. I guess that special guest’s name will be familiar with most of you. Obviously, it was Ray Wilson.

It’s nothing new, that Ray plays a lot of Springsteen but only in Germany. It’s hard to make him play anything in Poland and this was a perfect occasion to finally hear those stunning songs. I was the lucky one to get the last invitation for the show from the competition held on Ray’s facebook fanpage and I knew this would be a special gig. I just felt it in the air that night. And ... I wasn’t wrong!

It was my tenth Ray Wilson concert - but the first one, where he played all on his own. Ray did these kind of shows occasionally in the past, i.e. in 2007, when he performed solo at the Genesis Fan Meeting in Braunschweig, and also in 2003, when the live CD An Audience And Ray Wilson was recorded - and that took place in Warsaw, also at Radio Trojka.

1Coincidently Ray appeared with his Taylor guitar on stage playing Born To Run. Great start. The audience finally stood up after two boring supports and started having fun. Wilson seemed to be in the mood and carried on with other Springsteen classics: Fire and well known among Ray’s fans I’m on Fire. Probably one of the biggest setlist dreams of polish fans. But my favourite was The River, which was performed just as a fourth song in the set. In my personal opinion it’s one of the finest gems in Ray’s repertoire.

And yet another well known tunes, this time from Neil Young. Another musician, who influenced our beloved Scottish during his adolescent times. Even though, he admitted that it took some time until he realised that those are not just guys who cannot sing, but artists who ought to be called geniuses.  I mean: The Needle and the Damage Done, Comes a Time and wonderful Long May You Run.

At this point, Ray stopped again to point out, that after next song, he would explain its meaning to us. But after the song, just not to spoil it. Obviously, here comes the explanation. Rosie, by Jackson Browne is a quite interesting song about the loneliness and self-loving after being rejected or… as Ray said, about masturbation ... Just listen:

"So you might think that Rosie is a girl whose at a side of the stage during one of the concerts trying to get the interest from the drummer in the band or one of the road crew when actually what Rosie really is, is the tattoo that he's got, the road guy, the drumm technician (...) he's got Rosie tattooed on each of his fingers, so basically because the drummer in the band ends up with the girl, he ends up with Rosie... ‘cos he sings:

Rosie, you're all right, you wear my ring
When you hold me tight, Rosie, that's my thing
When you turn out the light I got to hand it to me
Looks like it's me and you again tonight, Rosie

A song about masturbation."

2The next song was an important one back in Ray’s childhood. With his band, called ‘Rusty Boys’ he played a first show for which he got money and the boys were covering The Eagles. So ... another wonderful tune performed a cappella – Desperado. After this came Tom Waits’ Jersey Girl. For me completely unknown song, worth listening though. The last two songs were from Ray’s solo career. The first one, remembering cut_ times, Another Day and the second one, even older and quite contrasting to the previous one – The Airport Song. I really hate it, but this time I enjoyed singing it with the others. I don’t know what happened …

The complete setlist before Encores:

Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen)
Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
I'm On Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
The River (Bruce Springsteen)
The Needle And The Damage Done (Neil Young)
Comes A Time (Neil Young)
Long May You Run (Neil Young)
Rosie (Jackson Browne)
Desperado (The Eagles)
Jersey Girl (Tom Waits)
Another Day (Cut_)
The Airport Song (Guaranteed Pure)

Ray wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t appear on stage again. And this time he got a big surprise for us. At first he asked what would we want to hear, as first I said Ever The Reason, but he denied since he needed Ali for that. The second try was Change and this was a lucky one. After it came quite an impressive medley containing songs from Ray, Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and obviously Bruce Springsteen. Wilson also needed to put here some of the finest Genesis tracks. Here’s the complete list of the songs played during the medley with the right order:

Change (Ray Wilson)
Not About Us (Genesis)
Sarah (Cut_)
Goodbye Baby Blue (Ray Wilson)
Shipwrecked (Genesis)
No Son of Mine (Genesis)
Carpet Crawlers (Genesis)
In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins)
Biko (Peter Gabriel)
Knocking on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan)
Blowing in the Wind (Bob Dylan)
First We Take Manhattan (Leonard Cohen)
The River (Bruce Springsteen)

3The whole concert lasted about 80-90 minutes and I have to say it was just magnificent. One of the best Ray’s shows I have attended. Not only the setlist was great, but also you could feel that it was Wilson’s day and even after the show he was happy to see me again. I thought to hear: God, it’s you again...? But instead of this: Oh, good to see you! Nice shirt, I was looking at it almost all the time.

It was time to leave Warsaw and go back home. When I reached the motorway I decided to play Ali Ferguson’s The Windmills and the Stars since many people claimed it’s great to hear it on the road in the night. And I have to say that they were right. It’s just perfect for this kind of occasion!

Author & Photos: Maciej Soroczyński

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