A Summer Weekend With Rick Springfield
Submitted By James Downing
What do you think of when you hear the name Rick Springfield? Soap opera star? Bubble gum rock? Teeny bopper rock? Well, you might think these things about him if you have never seen him live. If you have seen him live you will think rock star. The man hits the stage with so much energy and excitement that you have to wonder how he does it. After all, he was about to turn 60 years young.
I had made plans with two very good friends of mine, Julie and Sue, to take a weekend road trip to check out these two shows. We all met up in Memphis, TN and headed out for the drive to Tunica, MS. I had never been to this town before and was looking forward to it.
Rick’s show in Tunica was at Sam’s Town Casino. The venue was a very nice room. And the place was packed. Rick pulled them in from all over. Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, Dallas, Louisville and many other towns were represented at this show. At 9pm the lights dimmed and the sound of drums filled the room from the sound system. The crowd was on their feet as Rick’s band walked out on stage. A few snippets of Rick hits were heard in the intro. The stage lights came on and out walked Dr Noah Drake. Rick started rocking from the start as he broke into “Mr PC” from his latest CD, “Venus In Overdrive”. This CD came out last year and because of the intense promotion and tv appearances Rick did, it debuted on the charts higher than any other album in his 30 years in the business. He stuck with that CD for the next song, “Victoria’s Secret,” the first single from the CD. The crowd knew each and every word by heart. I love it when the audience sings along, and they were doing it all night.
Rick reached into his bag full of hits for what was going to be a nice stroll down memory lane as he performed, “Affair Of The Heart” and “Living In Oz.“ I remember seeing these videos in heavy rotation on MTV back in its early days. The next song was one written by Sammy Hagar, “I’ve Done Everything For You,” another huge hit for Rick in the 80′s. I saw Sammy in concert once and he thanked Rick for taking this song to the top of the charts. The next song really surprised me. Rick said he was going to do a song that wasn’t his, but it was going to be his next single and they were going to be recording it live in Tunica. He told us that he wanted us to help him out by singing along on the chorus as he exploded into the Paul McCartney and Wings song, “Jet.” I was wondering how he would sound singing it – Excellent job! He said that we will be able to download it from iTunes soon. I am sure there were a lot of girls in the 80′s who thought Rick was singing directly to them on the next song, “Allison“. Next up was the title track from “Venus In Overdrive.” This is another rocking song that proves that Rick still has it after all these years. He slowed it down a little as he went into another one from Venus In Overdrive, “I’ll Miss That Someday“. Rick took us back to the 80′s once again for “Love Is Alright Tonight,” followed by “I Get Excited.” By this time, much to the joy of every female in the house, Rick had taken his shirt off.
One thing that Rick really likes to do is to jump off the stage and go out in the crowd and this night was no exception. He always gets people to sing along on “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” He really has a good time with this. While he was still in the crowd he sang, “Human Touch.” After Rick made it back to the stage he started what is one of be best known opening guitar riffs in music history, the opening notes to “Jessie’s Girl” as the crowd went crazy! This was the last song of the regular set.
After minutes of screaming, Rick and band returned to the stage. I was in for a treat because I had always wanted to hear the song, “I’ll Make You Happy” in concert, from his album, “Shock, Denial, Anger, Acceptance,”. This is a remake of a song from the 60′s by a band from Rick’s home land of Australia, The Easy Beats. I am a big fan of theirs and so is Rick. He added a little bit of another Easy Beats song, “Sorry,” into it to make it a tribute of some heroes of his. It is interesting to note that George Young of The Easy Beats is the brother of Angus and Malcolm Young of AC/DC. He really rocked out on this song. The last song of the night was “Kristina”. This show was excellent. I have seen Rick 10 times and this show ranks up in the top 3!
The next day we headed out to Hot Springs, AR. and the town lived up to its name, it was hot! Rick’s web site offered a meet and greet package called a Sound Check. You get to go into the venue while Rick is doing his sound check and after he finishes that up, you get to meet him, chat a little, get an autograph and a picture made with him. Now I would guess it was between 95 and 100 degrees at 3 o’clock that day. The show was at a theme park called, Magic Springs. There was a bit of confusion before we got to go in with the people working the gates at the park. When Julie and I finally made our way in, we had no idea where the stage was. It was terrible running through this amusement park trying to find out where we were supposed to be and hoping we weren’t too late. We made it on time and soon Rick’s guitar tech George came out to meet us. He gave us our passes and led us in. Soon Rick came out and did 3 songs while he and his sound guy Mattie were getting the sound right. I love watching stuff like this, so it was fun and interesting to me. Rick told us to come up on stage where there was a little shade. He took time with everyone and signed posters, records and CDs. He also made pictures with everyone as well. The Sound Check experience was a bit pricey, but I think it is worth the money. You get to see a mini concert and you get a more personal time with Rick than you do at a regular meet and greet.
The set list for this show was about the same as the night before. I think a few songs were in a different order, but it was another great show. The nights in Hot Springs in July are not much cooler than the days and about half way through the show he was drenched from head to toe with sweat. His shirt came off again, much to the delight of the mostly female crowd. When Rick went out into the crowd he was climbing over the barrier in front of the stage and he almost fell. He looked at the two security guards just standing there and said “Great job security!!!’.
I need to mention Rick’s band. They were a tight outfit. George Bernhardt on lead guitar, Roger Carter on drums and Derek Hiland on keyboards. For these two shows guitar tech George Nastos stood in for bass player Matt Bissonette, who was attending a function with his son. They have a side project called The Squirts and have a couple of CDs out. Roger Carter has a CD of classic rock songs out as well.
Rick has been in the music business since the early 70s with a band called Zoot in Australia and then over here in America. A lot of people don’t know he had a hit with a song called “Speak To The Sky,” in 72 and released several LPs like “Beginnings,” “Comic Book Heros,” and “Wait For The Night.” He wasn’t heard of for a while and then exploded again with “Jessie’s Girl” and the rest is history. If you are a Rick Springfield fan, go see him live. You will not believe what you see, a show that is so full of energy you will think you are watching a 20 year old! If you aren’t a fan, go to a show anyway, you will be when you leave.
At Friday’s show we had to deal with a lot of intoxicated people in the crowd and Saturdays show was outside so the heat factor came into play. There were a lot of more songs I would like to have head Rick perform and I wished he would have expanded his show pass the hour and a half that he plays. I wished he had gone further back into his catalog and do some songs from the 70′s, but these are the only complaints I had about these two shows. I will give both of these shows a 9.5 on the Concert Blast scale.
Written By James Downing
Tags: Derek Hiland, George Bernhardt, George Nastos, James Downing, Jessie's Girl, Matt Bissonette, Rick Springfield, Rick Springfield Concert Review, Rick Springfield Hits, Rick Springfield in concert, Roger Carter, The Squirts