A Love Affair (Godfather GR 83/84/85)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy – June 21st, 1985
Disc 1 (66:42): Born In The USA, Badlands, Out In The Street, Johnny 99, Atlantic City, The River, Working On The Highway, Trapped, Prove It All Night, Glory Days, The Promised Land
Disc 2 (62:16): My Hometown, Thunder Road, Cover Me, Dancing In The Dark, Hungry Heart, Cadillac Ranch, Downbound Train, I’m On Fire, Because The Night, Backstreets
Disc 3 (55:01): Rosalita, I Can’t Help Falling In Love, Born To Run, Bobby Jean, Ramrod, Twist And Shout / Do You Love Me, Rocking All Over The World
Bruce Springsteen himself ranks the June 21st, 1985 gig at San Siro Stadium in Milan in the top five in his entire career. The worldwide success of Born In The USA resulted in a world tour including his first ever trip to Italy. Bruce’s show was one of the first major stadium rock shows in Italy. Given the size of the crowd and the past history of violence at rock concerts in the past (Led Zeppelin in Milan 1971 and King Crimson in Rome in 1974 are the most obvious examples), there were concerns in the days leading up the show. It proved to be unfounded as the 80,000 fans not only caused no violence but the sheer power of the music even made the police in the crowd (during “Twist & Shout”) dance along with the rest of the crowd.
Amateur and professional recordings surfaced almost a day after the event, even being broadcast on Italian television and radio. The earliest bootleg releases include Back To The Roots (Herpes Genitalis Records 1001) on picture discs which was reissued with the same name and matrix number on black vinyl. Unsold copies circulated under the title At Clarence Birthday with only two of the four discs. Early CD releases include Hi Bruce! (Eagle Records Eagle CD004) and Fantastico Bruce (Stonehenge STCD 3010/11/12). In January 2005 upgraded copies of the tape were released on Milano Night (Crystal Cat CC 747/748/749) and A Love Affair on Godfather Records. The sound quality is front row center capturing all of the dynamics of the performance with great balance with the audience noise. The energy generated by 80,000 permeates the entire performance without being intrusive or distracting. It is apparent it was recorded in an outdoor venue since the tape seems to breath with the wind.
The show began at 7:30 on a hot evening and lasted more than three hours with a thirty minute intermission after “Thunder Road” and it has been said that for many Italian fans June 21st, 1985 is a more important date to remember than their birthday. Even in the opening beats of “Born In The USA” there is a magic in the air, and as the song segues into “Badlands” the show never lets up in intensity. The relatively mellow (musically speaking) “Johnny 99” is the only let up in the first hour of the show. Springsteen goes to great lengths to explain the songs to the audience. Before “The River” he says, ‘‘This is, when I was young my father would lock up the frontdoor of my house and he’d sit in the kitchen and wait for me to come home. And he’d sit there at night smoking a cigarette, drinking beer. And if I was gonna come home too late, I was better off waiting until the morning, so I’d keep a sleeping bag out on the edge of these woods and I would sleep on somebody’s porch or in a friend of mine’s car and give him a chance to sleep it off. Now when I go home, those places that I used to sleep are more like my home than my house was so, this song is because everyone needs some place to go on those nights when they can’t go home.”
The first half of the show reaches a peak with “Glory Days.” This was the fifth single from Born In The USA, issued three weeks before and the video had just entered heavy circulation on MTV in June to push the song up to number five. The enthusiasm is such that the audience sing a football chant as they go into the melodic “The Promised Land.” After the intermission, when the sun set, they start the second half of the show with a string of catchy songs “Cover Me,” “Dancing In The Dark,” “Hungry Heart” and “Cadillac Ranch” (where the “girl in the jeans so tight” drives through the “Milanese” instead of the “Wisconsin” night) while the crowd again chants in unison. “I’m On Fire” includes the keyboard led intro as Bruce explains the song’s meaning, ‘‘I remember when I was growing up, my old man would call me into the kitchen. It seemed like the only time he wanted to talk to me was after he’d been drinking a little bit. And it seemed like he was always angry. I don’t know, I don’t know what he was so angry about all the time. And he’d sit around thinking about everything that he wasn’t ever gonna have until he’d get you thinking like that too. And I’d lay up in my bed at night and I’d think that if something didn’t happen.”
“Backstreets” has the extended intro and “Sad Eyes” in the middle. “Rosalita” contains an introduction of the E Street Band including, “And now last but not least, the king of the universe, the master of the world, in this corner, weighing 365 pounds, 7 foot 10 inches tall, the handsomest man, the biggest man you ever seen, gimme a C…L…A…R…E…N….C….E….what’s that spell? ….what’s that spell?….what’s that spell ?….Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons on the saxophone!” Bruce sings “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” (not as good as Elvis, but who can do that) which segues directly into “Born To Run.” The first encore is an eighteen minute, rocking version of the Medley/Russell tune “Twist & Shout” with a long reference to The Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” in the middle and the long evening ends with a cover of John Fogerty’s “Rockin’ All Over The World.” A Love Affair is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeve and Godfather went the extra mile to draw the listener into the event. There are two little booklets included. One contains copious amounts of photos of the event and the other with newspaper clippings. It has mini-reproductions of two concert posters and detailed liner notes written by Joe Richards. The best titles are those that capture the event and this is one of the most impressive titles to be released by this, or any label, and is essential.