The Springsteen Information Center Thanks Blogness On The Edge of Town and Jeffrey Bien!
The Fury and the Frenzy in Firenze
“YOU ARE F*CKING DIE-HARD!!!!” Bruce Springsteen screamed at me (as well as 50,000 other drenched Italian fans). For three and a half hours, we stood in what essentially amounted to a full-on shower with our clothes on as Bruce and the band played song after song after song. Long after it was comfortable, reasonable, or even sane, Bruce and the crowd egged each other on into the uncharacteristically wet Florentine night as what will forever be known as the Fury and the Frenzy in Firenze.
A torrential downpour was the last thing I expected throughout the gorgeous day in Florence on my first ever trip to Italy. In the country to visit my sister and enjoy my last summer break ever, we had been talking about this show for months, and have been exploring different Italian cities for the past week. This was both her and her friend Barbara’s first Springsteen concert, and we were all excited for what we knew was going to be an amazing time. As we eagerly waited for the show to start, and I am sure you all know that feeling, I pointed out differences between the Italian crowd and the US audiences I am used to—much younger population, soccer jerseys everywhere, and a circle of old Italian men playing what appeared to be a sophisticated drinking game while passing around a flask.
The opening of the show itself could not have been more picturesque. Draped against the backdrop of a gorgeous Tuscan sunset, Bruce appeared onstage at 8:30 sharp and we were enchanted by a beautiful string rendition of a traditional Italian melody (perhaps some commenter will tell me the name). The band then ripped through their opening numbers—Badlands, and No Surrender, making a promise to us of a power-filled, eventful night. The energy of the crowd was electric, and the band, lights, and crowd responded to Bruce like an exquisitely oiled machine. No one really paid any mind when, at some point, perhaps during My City of Ruins, what had started as a fine mist slowly graduated to a proper rain, and continued to press harder and harder.
Eventually the crowd noticed, and to our credit, we loved it, welcoming the rain to cool off the white-hot energy trail left behind by Bruce’s searing guitar solos during Prove It All Night, Jake Clemons’ brilliant sax work during Trapped, and notably, the E Street rendition of Elvis’ Burnin’ Love. From where we were, in the middle of the “field” area (GA seats near the mixing tent), the crowd was simply insatiable; where they did not know the lyrics as well as American audiences, the Italian fans made up in volume and energy. The setlist also clearly reveals the preference of European audiences for Born in the USA and The Rising albums—as songs from these records clearly had the greatest impact throughout the night.
The downpour had fully set in and seemed especially fitting during The River; as rivulets of water were running into 100,000 shoes, the stadium was eerily silent, save for the harmonica. And by the second half of the encore, no one even attempted to stay dry, as shirts were off, bras were showing, and as some people sought shelter and vacated their coveted field spots near the rail, hundreds more with no such qualms rushed in to fill their spots, and the video screen was filled with young people, drenched to the bone, and completely lost in the music. Bruce joined in, despite being forty years older than most and contractually obligated to repeat this entire experience tomorrow night (in Trieste), he was equally drenched, called us all “f*cking die-hard” and piled on song after song after song.
photo: Jeffrey Bien
For me, the highlight of the night (if I had to pick one), was seeing Bruce up close and personal after the end of the show. As we were leaving the stadium, trying to strategize our plans for getting home and drying off, we heard the scream of a small crowd nearby, and whirling around, saw Bruce’s van being escorted by some police bikes. Bruce’s window was cracked open and was being pounded on by Italian youth, but I managed to work my way in and got his attention (most likely due to my American accent): “Mr. Springsteen!! Thank you.” He smiled, gave me two thumbs up and his driver pulled away—Bruce needed to dry off more than anyone else did, and we couldn’t fault him for that.
Thanks to Kayla Bien, Barbara Ofosu-Somuah, and Claudia for their help with this report.
photo by: BRT@Vacirca @Vacirca_BRTOUR
Start Time: 8:31 p.m.
Setlist 1. Badlands 2. No Surrender 3. We Take Care Of Our Own 4. Wrecking Ball 5. Death To My Hometown 6. City of Ruins 7. Spirit In The Night 8. BE TRUE 9. Jack of all Trades 10. Trapped 11. Prove it all Night 12. Darlington County (W/ Honky Tonk Woman intro) 13. BURNING LOVE (Sign) 14. Working on the Highway 15. Shackled and Drawn 16. Waiting on a Sunny Day 17. Apollo Medley 18. The River 19. The Rising 20. Backstreets 21. Land of Hope and Dreams
22. Rocky Ground 23. Born in the USA 24. Born To Run 25. Hungry Heart 26. Seven Nights To Rock 27. Dancing in the Dark 28. Tenth Avenue Freeze Out 29. WHO’LL STOP THE RAIN
End Time: 11:57