Our Love Is Real: Five Times San Siro (Godfatherecords G.R. 895/896/897)
Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy – 3 June, 2013
Disc 1: Intro: Once Upon A Time In The West, Land Of Hope And Dreams[/People Get Ready], My Love Will Not Let You Down, Out In The Street, American Land, Long Tall Sally, Loose Ends, Wrecking Ball, Death To My Hometown, Atlantic City, The River
Disc 2: Born In The U.S.A. Album Intro, Born In The U.S.A., Cover Me, Darlington County, Working On The Highway, Downbound Train, I’m On Fire, No Surrender, Bobby Jean, I’m Goin’ Down, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark, My Hometown
Disc 3: Shackled And Drawn, Waitin’ On A Sunny Day, The Rising, Badlands, Hungry Heart, This Land Is Your Land/We Are Alive, Born To Run, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Twist And Shout[/La Bamba], Shout, Thunder Road
As the title indicates, this release contains a recording of Springsteen’s fifth appearance at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, named after the legendary footballer who inspired Italy to two World Cup wins in the 1930s, home to both AC Milan and Internazionale, and more commonly known as the San Siro. Shows at this venue have tended to be special, as reviews of Godfather’s releases of three of the four previous shows (two by me and one by gsparaco) attest.
For the second time on the 2013 European leg of the Wrecking Ball Tour, the show opens with Land Of Hope And Dreams, which ends with the customary snippet of People Get Ready and this is immediately followed by what Michael Farley, writing on the americanaUK website, calls, “a rip roaring version” of My Love Will Not Let You Down. The audience is in full voice for the next song, the crowd-pleasing Out In The Street. Gianni Sibilla, writing on Springsteen’s official website, sums up the concert’s opening by stating:
“When the show begins, it already feels like an encore: not only because the opening song (‘Land of Hope and Dreams’) is one that usually comes near the end, but because of the energy and the audience participation. Going into ‘My Love Will Not Let You Down’ and ‘Out in the Street,’ the whole thing already feels like a party, with the entire stadium chanting.”
The ensuing requests begin with an equally high-spirited American Land. “If you haven’t been among 50,000 Italians doing an Irish jig,” writes Daily Mail reviewer Tim De Lisle, “you haven’t lived.” Then comes Springsteen’s first ever performance with the E Street band of the Little Richard number Long Tall Sally. The setlist threads of Greasy Lake and Stone Pony London initially listed Good Golly Miss Molly and Backstreets/BTX still does at the time of writing. Even the setlist on Springsteen’s official website originally included Good Golly Miss Molly and, furthermore, Ed Manion, who obviously took part in the performance, posted on Facebook that it the song performed was Good Golly Miss Molly.
Springsteen was responding to an audience sign requesting Good Golly Miss Molly (with Fortunate Son on the other side). According to Rehspeck, posting on Greasy Lake, “the sign Said go golly miss molly [sic], Bruce claimed that he didn’t know it so they launched into Long Tall Sally.” After noting Manion’s comment, CosmicKid, posting on Greasy Lake, argues that, “maybe half the band played Long Tall Sally and the other half Good Golly Miss Molly.” Posting on SPL, desa33 states, “As for Good Golly/Tall Sally: a source says that he forgot the words to Good Golly and sang parts of Tally [sic] Sally,” and amos99 adds, “as an Elvis fan I’m sure the words were those of Long Tall Sally. I don’t know if he mixed it up somewhere and the music was certainly different from the original.” Another poster, petrus99 writes that, “Good Golly Miss Molly, was err…, let’s say Good Golly Miss Sally…”
Posting on Greasy Lake, mjmal51 has the answer to the conundrum:
“To clear this up, I spoke to one of the crew techies in the bar after the show. These guys are under the stage with a bank of laptops providing lots of services, one of which is to get the lyrics/chords etc especially for requests. They googled when the sign for GGMM came up and dropped a clanger providing the autocue for Long Tall Sally, they were a bit embarrassed!”
The mix up doesn’t prevent this being an exciting performance though Roland, posting on SPL, is surely exaggerating when he contends that, “Long Tall Sally was one of the best cover I ve [sic] ever heard from Bruce, both live and from bootlegs. It will be one of the highlights of this tour.” The River outtake Loose Ends, a Steve Van Zandt favourite as Springsteen points out, is another welcome request. It followed by the usual Wrecking Ball combination of the title track and Death To My Hometown. After this comes the slowed-down full-band version of Atlantic City. The final song of the initial section of the show is, as Ralf Dissmann, writing on the Backstreets website, contends, “a beautiful version of ‘The River’ on which Bruce let the audience sing along after the song’s initial ending, picking up the harmonica again and letting the band build it back up to finish.”
We then hear Springsteen deliver a speech in Italian about his five previous appearances at this venue. He makes particular reference to the debut performance in 1985, announcing that, to honour that occasion, the E Street Band would play the entire Born in the U.S.A. album. This is greeted by rapturous applause and cheers from the audience.
As with Darkness On the Edge Of London Town and We Gotta Stay Cool Tonight, Godfather elects to place the complete album performance by itself on the second disc, a decision of which I heartily approve. The riotous nature of the performance is summed up by Dissmann as follows:
“The album performance was highlighted by some extended intros (particularly notable on ‘I’m Goin’ Down’) and codas, a great solo by Nils on ‘Cover Me’ (spinning and playing with his teeth), full stadium lights up for ‘Bobby Jean’ and ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ Quite a few dancers joined in on stage: a woman who wanted to dance with Roy, a man with Cindy, and a partner for Garry, too. The woman who won the lottery and was the first allowed in the pit shortly after midday got to play guitar. Bruce himself danced with a grandmother and her granddaughter. A slight gash drawing blood from Bruce’s right forearm during ‘Darlington County’ didn’t slow him down at all [In fact, he does stumble over the lyrics at one point missing out part of one verse.]”
Sibilla was also impressed:
“Born in the U.S.A. fits the evening perfectly, from the bombastic beginning of the title track to the emotional closing of ‘My Hometown,’ with so many fast songs in between. A fun “Working on the Highway” and a wonderful ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ (with a fantastic electric guitar intro) are the highlights of the sequence, along with Jake’s perfect renditions of the solos in “Bobby Jean” and ‘Dancing in the Dark.’ Bruce and the band cut a rug with many different ladies as ‘Dancing’ stretches out.”
The performance also found favour with De Lisle, who comments:
“The big pop songs – No Surrender, Bobby Jean, Glory Days – are triumphal; the ballads, I’m On Fire and My Hometown, restrained. Born In The USA itself is full of bombast.
Dancing In The Dark is a great surge of communal joy, with Springsteen inviting fans on stage.
‘Please dance with grandma and me,’ says a sign held up by a teenage girl, so he does. Grandma looks about ten years younger than him.”
Again, there are few surprises during the latter part of the main set. Cindy Mizelle contributes her usual impressive vocals to Shackled And Drawn, which Springsteen begins with some call-and-response with the audience, and a young girl sings better than most during Waitin’ On A Sunny Day. The main set then ends with an excellent performance of The Rising and what Dissmann calls “very strong versions” of Badlands and Hungry Heart.
There is a surprise at the start of the encore, however – not just the very welcome return of We Are Alive, but the fact that it is prefaced with an extended excerpt from Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. Things move up-tempo with a wonderful performance of Born To Run, which, as Dissmann states, “sent the audience from complete frenzy to beyond oblivion.” The ebullient atmosphere is maintained by Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, which contains the band introductions, before the Isley Brother’s duo of Twist And Shout and Shout brings the show to a tumultuous conclusion. Twist And Shout contains a call-and response section to the tune of La Bamba and a splendid contribution from the horn section and Shout is a particularly frenzied performance. As Sibilla contends on rokol.it, “if the concert began with the intensity of an encore, what can still happen at the end of the concert? A party within the party.” Finally, calming things down after all this intensity, Springsteen return alone to round off the performance with a solo acoustic rendition of Thunder Road.
This is another terrific San Siro show, with much of the energy and atmosphere derived from the contribution of the hugely enthusiastic audience. Farley sums it up as, “three and a half hours of pure adrenalin and emotion…An unforgettable night full of passion and excitement,” Sibilla, on Springsteen’s website, concludes:
“I’ve seen Springsteen in San Siro all five times. 1985 was the first rock concert of my life. All were memorable, especially the rain-soaked 2003 show. What I saw tonight rivaled any of them for emotion, intensity, energy, passion and fun. This was one of the best concerts of my life: pure rock music, Bruce at his best.”
Posters on both Greasy Lake and SPL have been fulsome in their praise for this show. Comments on SPL include: “This show rocked the hell out of San Siro.” (Roland); “So it’s true what they say about seeing Bruce in Milan. What a crowd. Super show…I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like Milan before. I still can’t quite get over the crowd. Simply incredible. The show was intensely emotional…and in a setting that was amazing.” (Kinsey) and “A fantastic show and a very emotional Evening…Bruce was so fired up. A legendary performance and legendary crowd that must be among the wildest and craziest ever.” (JoeRoberts74 ). On Greasy Lake we find comments such as: “Fantastic show!!! Unbelievable crowd and performance. Had the most fun ever in my life when they played shout! The whole stadium was dancing like crazy. I will never forget this night. Oh my god! ” (SevenNightsToRock); “Stunning show. Bruce and the audience were both incredible.” (RollinThunder); “What a night. The crowd was incredible.” (Elbow) and “The crowd was the best one i ever seen [sic].” (The-River).
Not everyone was impressed by the audience, however. Greasy Lake poster casino nancy complains that, “I have never seen so many people yacking through quiet songs and loads of drunks too funnily enough,” and fellow poster KleWdSide argues that, “the constant chants during every single melody would get annoying after a while. Sure, it’s perfect for songs like ‘Born To Run’ but during ‘Loose Ends’?? Not something I’d want…”
The source for this release is avery impressive audience tape, punchy and dynamic and very enjoyable to listen to. As might be expected from the above comments, the audience is quite prominent, though I feel that this largely adds to the atmosphere of the show. The discs are packaged in Godfather’s usual tri-fold card sleeve with numerous onstage photographs. The cover picture, which has Springsteen and Van Zandt superimposed on a shot of the crowd in the stadium, looks oddly artificial, as do a couple of the other shots on the inner part of the sleeve. The track listing is on the reverse. There is an eight-page booklet with further photos, mostly onstage shots, but also showing Springsteen arriving in Milan by train and the customary “Joe Roberts” notes. There is also a mini-poster reproducing a poster for the show, with further photos and the band personnel on the reverse. This stunning Wrecking Ball Tour show, enhanced by fine sound and attractive packaging, is very highly recommended to Springsteen collectors.