LYNYRD SKYNYRD Paris (God & Guns Tour 2009)
Turned up in Europe since the 20th of May 2009, date of their first show in Helsinki, this Friday the 5th of June 2009 marked for us the end of this Lynyrd Skynyrd's mini tour on this side of the Atlantic ocean, an always quite emotional moment in some french fans' life since it coincided with the comeback on stage in Paris of the most famous southern rock band in history. The last appearance in France of this southern rock icon dated back indeed to the 29th of June 2003. So, it's with a légitimated enthusiasm that several thousand fans made the trip, a lot of them were conveying the feeling that they didn't want to miss what could possibly be the last Skynyrd's concert in France (?). What will next happen will perhaps confirm it , but whatever most of the southern men made in France got together with a great pleasure in the end of the afternoon outside the Zenith's railings!
So, before meeting all the friends of this southern rock frenchy potential, Road to Jacksonville's representatives had the enormous privilege to meet the legendary Gary Rossington, Rickey Medlocke, Johnny Van Zant, etc... during the interview accorded to Bands of Dixie (the french spécialized Southern Rock Music mag), a very émotionally intense moment made possible by Olivier Garnier (in charge of marketing for Skynyrd in France) and also by the will of each of the representatives to share those unforgettable moments !
Back in the Parc de la Villette's enclosure around 18.30p.m., we felt the effervescence inevitably rising. Of course the conversations turn around the new musicians arrived some weeks ago in the band. Could they really stand in for Ean Evans and especially Billy Powell ? (Stand in for... yes, but make forget, impossible of course !).
An other very present talking point was the incompréhension about the choice of the band opening. I have to admit that for most of us, it was a total incoherence ! The concert's organizator and promoter (G-D-P) has certainly and absolutely the right to place the band it wants for opening, but now really... Why ignore at that point the good french bands (Skynyrd's fans!) that keep this music alive every week-end in the festivals, motorbike meetings, or cafés with live music? Some people (of whom I'm part of!) even push the question to wonder if, in fact, all that has not a voluntarily provocative side… Because even if of course we don't have anything against Naosol's guys, I'd like very much that someone explains me where is the point (for them like for the audience) to open for Skynyrd. If the music has to have an open mindedness in the widest sense, there is nevertheless a form of respect not to overlook in this kind of association... At last a true wrong note that unfortunately tends to perpetuate in France, while, to compare with our European neightbours, they could appreciate Aynsley Lister in England, Julian Sas in Germany, and even Molly Hatchet for Finland!... When I think that for years 38 Special would take delight in coming with Skynyrd in Europe... OK now, I stop here because I despair of all that stuff that doesn’t really make a sense !
Around 21 h, lights go out and here we go... "Workin for MCA" and "I Ain't The One" : in spite of the release of the new album (God & Guns), we know for awhile that Lynyrd Skynyrd has prefered to tour with the support of the usual set-list accounting for the most part of the "classics-songs" that made the band’s story and fame. It was a little a pity, but very understandable to integrate the new "southern boys", and, anyway, the audience was above all delighted to see his favorite band still really present after the unthinkable tragedies it just still has to face! "Still unbroken", as one of the tunes of the new album will maliciously specify! The Gary Rossington's gang is glowing with pleasure and it moves on to "Saturday Night Special". A thunderous applause greets the appearence of Dale Krantz-Rossington and Carol Chase, the essential female Skynyrd's vocals ! In this beginning of the show, the eyes are particularly set on Robert Kearns the new bass player (ex-Cry of Love and Bottle Rockets) and on Peter "Keys" Pisarczyk (the keyboards player), who has of course the burdensome task to stand in for the great Billy Powell. On the whole we can say that the new musicians both get by rather well ! The band is really at ease and unfolds very readily the standards that the audience (belonging to several generations as Johnny Van Zant will emphasize!) takes delight in singing the chorus of "What's Your Name", "That Smell" and "Simple Man" ! It's magnificent, the Zénith vibrates under the atmospheres of "Whiskey Rock'n Roller", "Down South Jukin' ", with an emotional surplus for "Tuesday's Gone" ! An emotion reaching its climax when Mark Matejka draws the riff of "Sweet Home Alabama" and when the huge sheet representing the Rebel Flag tied to the Star-Spangled Banner sets in behind the band and brings out a shining brightly Zénith ! A tune that became planetary and that all the people here takes delight to sing with the band !
We can probably regret this show's duration, a bit "short" (less than an hour and a half) but OK, too bad, it's Lynyrd Skynyrd!... And when Johnny Van Zant shouts out the "What song is it you want to hear?" that has become traditional, the audience, really happy with the evening, yells with one voice "Freebird", this legendary tune that the band will play for the umpteenth time in its history !
The last Rickey and Mark's chorus just ended up echoing in the hall and this moment that we were waiting for for several months is already finished! So, before leaving, and like at the time of the previous Lynyrd Skynyrd's concerts, about fifty enthusiasts will stay during a long time at the Zenith's doors to comment passionately on what they just attend, wishing of course that they will see another come back of our favourite band in Europe ! Until this time, we will have listened to the new album!
"The South gonna rise again" !