Melbourne Showgrounds, 1985.
What the world needs now is more of this.
More sultry men steaming up your computer screen as you scratch out a living in this COVID-19 world.
More simple expressions of joy.
We can’t get out to see live music, unless you have some talent in your neighbourhood doing shows from the front porch.
Which is why songs like this are so important.
Has there ever been a sexier song?
I don’t know.
But this grainy footage of a young Bruce Springsteen trying to hold back his emotions as Nils Lofgren and Danny Federici accompany him is addictive to say the least.
It is 35 years since Bruce brought his Born In The USA tour to Australia. The general admission tickets for the Melbourne Showgrounds gig were $23. I was a uni student juggling a part-time job in a TAB. I saved up for what turned out to be a life-defining gig.
Over two nights he converted many of the 50,000 gathered into the church of Bruce.
Some have wandered but many have returned.
Although he played Fire a lot in his early years it was not on the setlist that night.
Some people would only know the version done by The Pointer Sisters, or more recently by Anna Calvi. On a sparse electric guitar, the then 33-year-old English singer burns up the YouTube screen like a young Bruce. (Calvi has since done a duet with Courtney Barnett. She also covered David Bowie’s Lady Grinning Soul and Suicide’s Ghost Rider on 2014’s Strange Weather EP. TV aficionados might know Calvi from her work as the composer on the English series Peaky Blinders.)
According to legend Bruce envisioned Fire as a song which could be recorded by his idol Elvis Presley. It was written after he saw Presley play in Philadelphia in May 1977. Bruce is quoted as saying: “I sent [Elvis] a demo of it but he died before it arrived”.
In 1978 he did a very Presleyesque version in Houston. “This next part is very difficult,” he says, before launching into a hip swinging verse.
Two years later on The River Tour the sideburns have grown in, embellishing the Presley feel. Then there’s Clarence Clemons adding his own stagecraft and gravitas. But not for long.
Bruce has only played Fire once in Australia and that was in Brisbane in 2017.
The pull of this particular song is strong. The acoustic version, with just piano accordion and guitar, has been viewed more than 20 million times on YouTube.
Rolling Stone Magazine has described it as “his hottest performance ever”. It is stripped back, raw and lust-filled. He wears a simple V-neck T-shirt and blue working man’s jeans. Not the carefully crafted stage costume of his recent Australian tours.
And his dance steps are simple, not choreographed.
You can see him struggling with his own desires as he wrestles with the mike stand.
I defy anyone to watch this without a smile on their face.
Stereo Story # 508