Tuesday, 31 March 2020

My 2009 tour of Italy with Bruce Springsteen - Part 2 : Torino

My next destination after Rome was Torino. It was, if I remember correctly, a 7 hour journey and I slept through most of it (even though we had our passports thoroughly checked by the Carabinieri before the train left the station). My hotel was just beside the station, but I didn't go there when I arrived. We went straight to the stadium in order to get our numbers for the roll calls. We were quite early and we got very low numbers and this time I was determined to follow the procedure correctly, which meant wake-up calls and a few trips back and forth from my hotel to the stadium and vice versa.

I didn't get as much sleep as I would have wanted that night as a result, but that would be partly rectified later. After the last roll call on Tuesday morning, we had to stay there because the gates could open at any minute and we would have to get in, in line according to our numbers. There was a street market that day near the stadium, so we went there and bought... pillows. Yes and we used them to sit down outside the stadium and even, in my case, sleeping! Yes, I'm not ashamed to say, that I slept out in the street! (Out in the street! Geddit?) And in the middle of the day at that! And if that sounds strange, let me tell you that some people, mainly those organizing the roll calls had brought their tents and slept there during the night, not because they couldn't afford a hotel, but because they wanted to be there for the roll calls. Anyway, our long wait there was made easier by the fact that there was cloud cover (but no rain) during most of the day (we were near the Alps, remember?) so we didn't have to suffer the scorching heat we had experienced outside the Stadio Olimpico in Rome the day before.

So, what happened was that one of my friends woke me up from a deep sleep and told me "Get up Pap, we're going in". I just had time to grab one of the pillows we had bought (I think I left another one there in the street). I thought the pillow would come in useful, because we were in for another long wait once we got inside the stadium and I remember dragging it with me as we were guided to the pit in an orderly fashion. We were waiting there, thankfully sitting down, for quite some time, (though not so much as in Rome because there was no aquatic championship taking place nearby which meant that the show would start at a more reasonable time). We spent that time, telling stories of previous concerts and guessing what Bruce might play.

Finally, the wait was over and Bruce came on stage. And instead of opening with the usual "Badlands" as he did in Rome and in fact on several other dates of this tour, he started with one of what I call the "surprise opening numbers", songs that he doesn't play too often. This time it was "Loose Ends". The usual "Badlands" was the second song. But there were more surprises in store for us. At some point Bruce brought out a chair, sat on it with his guitar at the very front of the stage within touching distance (and every time he approached the front of the stage, I would get close to him, whether I wanted to or not, because the whole pit crowd would approach the stage - they would pull back when we went back, and they were very polite, saying "scusi" all the time) and sang "Workin' On The Highway" which is probably my favourite song from the "Born In The USA" album and I hadn't heard it live until then. The rock 'n' roll highlight this time was "Travellin' Band" one of my favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival songs.

But the biggest surprise of the night was to come just after that song and there was a back story to it. Two days before, in Rome, we were given sign requests for "Drive All Night" (a very emotional song off The River album which Bruce rarely played live back then). We kept waving them while Bruce was collecting the request signs and I think he took several of them, but he did not oblige that night. This time, the Italians took it a to the next level. They handed him a sign request that consisted of three envelopes, clearly marked 1, 2 and 3. Bruce opens the first envelope, out comes a sign saying "Drive All Night", He opens up a second envelope, out comes another sign saying "Drive All Night". He opens up the third and guess what: Yes, it was another "Drive All Night" sign. So Bruce, looks towards Max who just shrugged as if to say ("I'm OK with it"). That's when i thought "Success!". This time he was going to play it! But why did I want so much to hear it live? Well it was the favourite song of one my friends. She had been to several Springsteen concerts over the years and only managed to hear it once. Unfortunately, after the Rome concert she decided to go back to Greece and not to follow us to Torino, so she missed her chance of hearing it for a second time.

After the concert had finished, once again with the customary "Twist And Shout", my friends and I hang around for a while outside the stadium, eating junk food from one of the cantines, at the same place where we had been sleeping a few hours before while we were waiting to get in.

"I made it!", I thought. I had followed the pit roll call procedure all the way and I saw Bruce from really up close. But it had been such a tiring experience that I decided that on my next concert in Udine I would not go into the pit. Well, you know what they say... Never say never...

01. Loose Ends
02. Badlands
03. Hungry Heart
04. Outlaw Pete
05. Working on the Highway
06. Working on a Dream
07. Murder Incorporated
08. Johnny 99
09. American Skin (41 Shots)
10. Raise Your Hand
11. Travelin' Band
12. Drive All Night
13. Two Hearts
14. My Love Will Not Let You Down
15. Waitin' on a Sunny Day
16. The Promised Land
17. My Hometown
18. Backstreets
19. Lonesome Day
20. The Rising
21. Born to Run
22. Land of Hope and Dreams
23. American Land
24. Glory Days
25. Dancing In The Dark
26. Twist And Shout

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