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Mayor defends Springsteen over Italy gig criticism

The Boss played in Ferrara last night despite calls for the show to be cancelled due to devastating floods in the surrounding region

By James Hanley on 19 May 2023

The mayor of Ferrara has defended Bruce Springsteen after the star was criticised for not cancelling his show in the northern Italian city, amid devastating floods in the surrounding region.

Springsteen and The E Street Band performed a sold-out 50,000-cap concert at Parco Urbano Giorgio Bassani last night, promoted by Barley Arts, the group’s first of three dates in the Italy as part of their 2023 world tour.

However, there had been widespread calls to postpone the concert out of respect for the flooding in the Emilia-Romagna area, which has left 13 people dead and thousands homeless, and has been described by one politician as the worst disaster in a century. This Sunday’s Emilia Romagna Formula One Grand Prix at Imola was called off earlier this week due to safety concerns.

But speaking ahead of the Springsteen show, Ferrara mayor Alan Fabbri argued that cancelling the gig would not solve anything and only contribute to “more economic damage”.

In a Facebook post, he said: “I’m sorry if anyone might have thought that Ferrara was insensitive to the tragedy in Romagna just because they didn’t cancel The Boss’ concert. But I can assure you that as a former mayor of Bondeno, who lived the 2012 earthquake, on the front lines, I have never asked Italy or the region to stop championships, events and production of companies in solidarity with us.

“Firstly, because it doesn’t solve anything, except to create more economic damage to territories, workers and companies that have invested large sums for the event. Secondly, because it’s a level of demagogy that doesn’t belong to me.”

“I believe that all music, and especially at these levels, has the great power to unite people and sensibility from all parts of the world”

He added: “In Italy, there’s still a part of the public opinion that thinks that the world of events is not a sector equal to others, which one can safely do without, and because of this can be sacrificed at any occasion . In reality, it’s businesses and people who have suffered the burden of two years of Covid restrictions more than any other category, and it’s a shame that someone today has already forgotten that.

“I believe that all music, and especially at these levels, has the great power to unite people and sensibility from all parts of the world… May tonight’s music reach the flood affected populations with a single big hug.”

Barley Arts’ Claudio Trotta also discussed the decision to press ahead with the concert, saying the flooding had not hit Ferrara as badly as other cities, while the weather forecast was improving.

“It was not a red zone but an orange one,” he said, as per Radio Freccia. “We have had a great experience of people, companies and a lot of passion and love for one’s work which have allowed us today to be in a position – from the point of view of the show and the preparation of the arena – to be safe and rest assured that tomorrow, when we open the doors, the public will be adequately served and the show will take place regularly.”

Springsteen, who is represented by CAA, also plays Rome’s Circus Maximus on Sunday (21 May), returning to Italy on 25 July to perform at Monza’s Prato della Gerascia.

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