Thursday, May 25, 2006

I remember when rock was young

“The idea that Bruce Springsteen has of a rock concert is a simple one: it would have to be something like Christmas, something that you wait for with anxiety, that arrives slowly, with trepidation and happiness”, the writer Joyce Millman wrote some years ago. And it is probably the perfect definition.
The first time I saw Bruce was at that San Siro concert 18 years ago, the same one Bruce remembered the evening of the 28 june (“18 years have passed, we are both grow up... hope they have been good years for all you” he said in the monologue during Growin Up, a monologue that, during that song, lacked from 1978, and has been deeply different from those back then, giving the measure of how much Springsteen has changed).

I was a 22 year old kid with all his dreams still together and that concert was some kind of epiphany: it was like entering with a one-way ticket (at least that's what I believed) into the promised land. Naturally the ticket contained also the return from the promised land, but I didn't know that back then. I’ve learned it in these 18 years, and now that I’m 41 and a great part of my dreams have been burned through life's reality, for three hours at least Springsteen last night gave me back the innocence and all those dreams of mine. More: he has given to me “hope, faith and love” and this time, from the promised land, I do not mean to return back.

This is may be a small thing, but it is like Christmas day, at least. This concert told me that, also when you're in your 40's', “you gotta follow that dream wherever that dream may lead you,” how Bruce has sung in a touching and surprising Follow That Dream, played exclusively for those “crazy italians” (the second time with the E Street Band in the last fifteen years, since that July 1988 when he played that in Basel upon request of some Italians).
I believe that for Springsteen, in fact, it is not more the time of dreams: those dreams, today, it can be translated with an ideal, that it is very different from a dream. The dream is corrupted by the lights of dawn, the ideal persists every day of life. The ideal, you can find it when you live with eyes opened to the reality. Because Bruce Springsteen is realistic, a completely realistic man: “Badlands, you gotta live it everyday”, and it is from an alive look at the reality that a record like The Rising come out, and a song like My City Of Ruins (in which a chorus of 65,000 voices it has made to turn the eyes to the same Springsteen, affected and surprised, the greatest gospel chorus that that song has ever had).

In front of the tragedy of life, in front of the impossibility to find the way out from the badlands, you can look up and only ask that Someone come, here,, now: “C’mon! Rise up!”. And it is from this realism that an approach is born to rock’n’roll, a unique approach in the history of this music: with the possible exception of Bob Dylan, but that is another story. Springsteen is not someone who for a couple of hours forgets about life and wears the rocker's clothes (the Stones come to mind, always here in Milano, two weeks before: beautiful show, but smells of entertainment from the beginning to the end. Who believes in Brown Sugar or Sympathy For The Devil anymore? Not even Mick Jagger and Keith Richards), Springsteen believes, to the end, in all he sings, it is simply any one of us that is on stage for 3 hours.
Is it this that explains an audience like Springsteen’s audience: impressive, stunning and the reflection of the man on stage. When you see an audience like that (some German and American spectators have said they came to San Siro not only for another Springsteen show, but to see the Italian audience) the evening of the 28 june, the impression you have is to see in action a People, not only some fans.

Although the sound was very bad (in so far as, and only in this, the Stones that I saw here, same place, just two weeks before, beated Springsteen) and although the E Street is probably not the greatest r’n’r band in the world (but a great one anyway), it was, then, an amazing concert, a concert of which I’m proud to say that was for my daughter of nine years her first rock show: in ten years I do not know what she will be able to go to see, but this evening, I’m sure, she will always remember.
Yes, it was just like Christmas day. And although I hate to quote these words for the millionth time, there is nothing I can do it about it. They were true 30 years ago and they are still true today, in 2003: “In an evening in which I felt the need to feel young, (Bruce Springsteen) made me feel as if I were listening to music for the first time”. That gentleman who wrote this was also on stage to play the guitar and to dance (out of time...) during Dancing In The Dark and I only allow myself to add another quote, a vow that this evening I have renewed: “We swore blood brothers against the wind, now I’m ready to grow young again”.

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