The crowd surged forward and I found myself shifted from 20 metres back to five metres from the barrier for Badlands, before Death To My Hometown and Roulette were sung with the same fevour as if Bruce were performing them for the very first time. Lucky Town proved that the Italians have the same unfaltering passion for Springsteen no matter which song he plays, and they sang along to this 90s track in delight, as did I.
By this point I realised that my beloved sign was not going to cope with the hot pit, surges forward and bare chested Italian men rubbing up against me and my sign (why they felt the need to get naked for Bruce I will never know). I declared an emergency situation, and scrawled a Burgers and Bruce themed sign on one of the many cut out hearts dotted through the crowd.
The more normal sign requests soon followed with Bruce heading down to the crowd to collect a variety of cardboard masterpieces, returning to the stage with his hands full and signs held between his teeth. Summertime Blues had us boogying away before a couple got to celebrate their wedding anniversary hearing Stand On It.
Working On The Highway continued the upbeat tracks before Candy’s Room belted out, a song I’d been listening to the day before thinking “if only he would play it”. But that was just the beginning of what was to come. Despite saying it’s one of my least favourite songs (don’t hate me), I really am beginning to be converted by She’s The One, and it would be hard to fault this version, with Mona intro, which has transformed an OKish song (to me) to a incredible live masterpiece. But that’s what Bruce does.
Another sign request, Brilliant Disguise, was believe it or not a highlight for me up until this point. I haven’t heard it live before and I’m not overly keen on the twangy album version, but with an older, gruffer Bruce it was really quite captivating.
When Kitty’s Back started I don’t think anyone in the crowd anticipated what we were about to see – we were just ecstatic to hear this one song, which kept going and going, getting better…and better…and better. Incident On 57th Street, into Rosalita, finally my jaw dropped for NYC Serenade, which started to an eerily silent crowd. I didn’t breath through the whole thing, every single person would have had tingles down their spine. Performed with a strings section from the Roma Sinfonietta Orchestra, the camera focused on the small group of guest musicians and we saw them on the big screen, stealing knowing glances at each other as they played, thinking “f********ck does it get better than this???”
It couldn’t have been better for us either. I think we had all resigned ourselves to the fact that this was a song we were unlikely to hear live, especially here, but there we were, listening to the song’s European debut. Finally when the song was over, I could breath again, and I settled back into the show.
Shackled and Drawn remained on the set list, thank heavens, another chance to watch the side stepping E Streeters (although Steve never side steps, he just looks distressed to be surrounded by the choreographed moves).
Bruce then teased the ladies of the crowd (and the guys too actually) during Darlington County and soon after Bruce told us about Bobby Jean, before Waiting On A Sunny Day. A terrified Italian boy gripped a red rose on the stage, before he lept back into the crowd without a goodbye for Bruce, something Bruce seemed amused by, especially as clinging onto him for a hug has become the norm from his fans. The Rising followed, then Land Of Hope And Dreams, a song I’ll probably listen to every day for the rest of my life.
Born In The USA sounded better to me without being surrounded by the other songs of the album, before the usual lively performances of Born To Run, Dancing In The Dark and 10th Avenue Freeze Out. Hearing Twist and Shout I thought it might be the last song, but the festival atmosphere continued with The Isley Brothers Shout, which had the whole crowd going wild, celebrating the night and what we’d been lucky enough to see.
The solo acoustic Thunder Road ended a Springsteen set that will go down in history. As the crowd applauded Bruce with clapping and whooping, I glanced at the old man stood next to me, twice the age of the fans around him, peering over the heads and iPhones, backpack on and glasses steamed up from the sweaty pit. He kept calling to Bruce, over and over, “grazie mille Bruce” (thank you Bruce), “grazie mille, grazie mille, grazie mille, grazie mille…..”
I doubt Bruce heard him, but I hope he knows, every day, how much we thank him for his music.
Especially that night.