Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze; June 10th, 2012
When you convince your friend to go to a Bruce Springsteen concert with you and after two songs she turns to you and says: “Now I understand why you tell everyone to see him. This is incredible!“ you know it’s not only your own little world where Bruce is one of the greatest live performers that ever existed.
Knowing my friend and her friends didn’t want to go to the concert early, I had settled for being in the back and not seeing Bruce from up close. I might have been a little bummed about it, but to be honest if felt nice not to stand in line all day. I also know from experience that Bruce always gets me, no matter where I sit or stand and it was no different this time around. I enjoyed the gig to the fullest, every last second of it and i’m very happy that I decided to go there.
We arrived at the stadium around 5 p.m. after spending some time looking for a parking place. As we walked in, everyone was already standing in the pit and the rest of the floor was filled to about one third. There was no way of even going anywhere near the pit and I didn’t wanna become one of these annoying people that just walk in among people that are sitting down and remains standing in front of them just to be closer. Thus, we settled for sitting down in the back of everyone else. Much later, once people had gotten up, we were somewhere in the first third of the stadium I would guess with an OK view of the stage and a good one on the screens, surrounded by a group of people who turned out to be as crazy about Bruce as I am. Perfect!
At 8:30 p.m. the Sergio Leonne theme intro started playing and the show was on the road. The amount of yelling and screaming around me when the band and Bruce entered the stage was deafening. As soon as the first notes of ‘Badlands’ sounded through the stadium, everyone around me started jumping and I was right there with them, screaming the words at the top of my lungs. From that moment on to the end of the show 3.5 hours later I was completely take over by the music and these songs that I have loved for most of my life. Bruce immediately took me to a place where nothing else mattered and even though I could hardly see him at times, I was completely fascinated by the magic happening on stage and all around me. They continued with ‘No Surrender’ and everyone just kept on clapping and jumping, completely oblivious to the slight drizzle that had started as soon as the band walked on stage. Towards the end of the song I took a look around me and saw that almost all people in the seats were already standing up – unbelievable. It was then that my friend L. turned to me and said the words I quoted above. I do firmly believe in Bruce’s magic, but I also know that it does not work on everyone so I was happy it worked on her.
The double of ‘We take care of our own’ and ‘Wrecking Ball’ were next, powerful as ever. There was no stopping this band or this audience. Happy faces all around me, people dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. ‘Death to my hometown’ was also well received. During ‘My City of Ruins’ he didn’t say “If we are here and you are here then they are here!” this time or at least I can’t remember him doing that, but he did note that someone was missing. Also absent was Patti, even though I had heard she had arrived in Milano. He didn’t say that she was at home with the kids just that she send her love.
The call and response of “Yeah, Yeah!” for ‘Spirit in the Night’ was working great. Once again I felt like I was worshipping in the church of Bruce. Once again I realized that attending a Springsteen concert is as close to a religious experience as I’m ever going to get. 😀
The whole mood of the gig already felt better than Milan to me and with the next song, I was sold. I immediately recognized ‘Be true’ and found myself saying “Oh my god!” It’s always been one of my favorites and in all my 60 Bruce shows I’ve only heard it once or twice. I was so happy that it brought tears to my eyes and the rendition was a beautiful one. If the smile on my face had not been broad enough before it sure was now. As always, I enjoyed ‘Jack of all Trades’. I turned and saw the stadium lit up with thousands of lighters and mobile phone lights. L. commented that it looked like stars and indeed it did. I could hardly believe my ears when I heard the first notes of ‘Trapped’. The entire stadium sang along, raising their arms along with Bruce. ‘Prove it all Night’ was another song I’d been waiting to hear again. So far, the setlist was amazing and this was not the end of it yet.
‘Darlington County’ was again mixed with ‘Honky Tonk Woman’. I loved it and so did everyone else. While Bruce was out on the catwalk and platforms, close to the crowd, he picked up two request signs. One was ‘My Love will not let you down’, but the one he chose to play was ‘Burning Love’. I’d never seen him play that live before and was quite happy with it. He sought out his fans a lot that night, often being on the platforms and going right past the front row to get from one to the other. He even kissed a woman at one point and took the security guards by surprise when he ran out to the far right past the platform and decided to climb up on the railing there. The security guards were quite busy holding him up and keeping fans from crashing the barriers.
The rain kept increasing and I had long since put on my poncho. I watched people without such protection getting drenched, but nobody cared and we just kept on having a great time. 😀 Being soaked really doesn’t matter much if you can watch the greatest rock show on earth! At one point L. asked me if he always translated to other languages and I confirmed that mostly he did. She said he was doing pretty good and especially in the beginning of the show almost sounded Italian. I noted that his German pronunciation has also gotten better over time.
‘Working on the Highway’ has never been a favorite of mine, but kept the show moving and ‘Shackled and drawn’ was only one of many songs where the background choir could shine. ‘Waiting on a sunny day’ is what it is. I was happy it wasn’t drawn out too long and the kid Bruce pulled on stage apparently liked singing. I still would not mind if the song was put to rest. The Apollo Medley was back and as great as the first time I heard it. I just loved the soulful performance. ‘The River’ followed and had me in tears once again. Something about that song just gets to me, especially when it is sung along by an entire stadium. <3
Surprisingly, ‘The Rising’ was not followed by ‘Lonesome Day’ or ‘Radio Nowhere’, but by ‘Backstreets’. While, after the 2003 tour I thought I never wanted to hear this song again, I really enjoyed it that night. Over the years since I’ve had time to miss it. ‘Land of Hope and Dreams’ ended the main set. It made me smile how Bruce still announces it as if it were a new song. By that time the skies had really opened the floodgates and everyone was soaked. Quite a few people in front of us left, but were immediately replaced by others moving in from the sides and we got a bit closer as well.
The encores started with ‘Rocky Ground’ and once more I admired Michelle’s talent. She is such an amazing singer. During the night there was a place for everyone to shine and I enjoyed watching the band and their moments in the spotlight, but I’d be kidding myself if I claimed it wasn’t all about Bruce. 😉
‘Born in the USA’ and ‘Born to run’ had everyone screaming and rocking out again. We were jumping up and down and dancing in the rain with water in our shoes and soaked to the skin. Bruce kept the show at a fast pace, there was no chance for the audience to relax or get cold with ‘Hungry Heart’, ‘7 Nights to rock’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark’. This time Bruce didn’t pretend to be tired and Steve did not have to wake him up. He just stayed in the rain like the rest of us and delivered ‘10th Avenue freeze-out’. I choked up again, they said goodbye and I just knew that it wasn’t over yet.
L.’s friends, except for J., who loves Bruce as well, wanted to leave, but she decided to stay with me. Bruce announced “one more for the die-hards” and launched into ‘Twist and Shout’. We danced, I never wanted to leave. After this, L.’s friends had enough, but Bruce and the band came back again to play the one song I had been waiting for ‘Who’ll stop the rain’. It was a great ending to an amazing show and I’m eternally grateful that L. stuck it out with me until the end. (Thank you!)
Finally it was over and we hurried out f the stadium to find our car. It was harder than we had thought, but we made it eventually. We hard to wade through deep puddles so whatever had remained dry of our feet was wet then. When we were finally on our way home, the rain stopped. We turned up the heating and slowly made our way out of Firenze, agreeing that this show was totally worth getting soaked and catching a cold for. The entire show was powerful, magical and intense – for me, it was the best concert on this tour so far.
4 gigs down, 3 to go. Next stop: Gothenburg
We Take Care Of Our Own
Death To My Hometown
My City Of Ruins
Spirit In The Night
Jack Of All Trades
Prove It All Night
Darlington Country (with Honky Tonk Woman intro)
BURNING LOVE (request)
Working On The Highway
Shackled And Drawn
Waiting On A Sunny Day
Land Of Hope And Dreams
Born In The USA
Born To Run
Seven Nights To Rock
Dancing In The Dark
10th Avenue Freeze Out
Twist And Shout
Who Will Stop The Rain