Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rick & Roll Redux

I'm back from Atlantic City and, while my gambling fortunes were virtually nonexistent, the Rick Springfield show was something akin to hitting the jackpot. Accompanied by my good friend Rich D., the world's worst (best?) enabler, we were both treated to a rather amazing, old-fashioned rock & roll performance by a music icon. And, evidently, a medical marvel, too.

The fact that Springfield is 60 years old is, to be honest, insane. Rich and I both concluded without hesitation that he is almost certainly taking HGH (Human Growth Hormone). We also concluded that we want some of that...because the shit is working. Seriously. Dude still has a six-pack and some serious guns. As Rich wisely noted, "he knows what butters his bread." While he may not do quite the same high kicks and splits he did in his 20's and 30's, he's ALL energy on stage. With almost no slow songs in his repertoire, every song was assaulted with a youthful enthusiasm that I can barely muster for minutes at a time. One thing is clear---he's not just going through the motions and cashing a paycheck. He still loves making new music and he still loves belting out the old ones.

The Music Box venue at The Borgata is a cozy theater and an excellent setting. The night following Springfield they had The Yeah Yeah Yeahs performing there, just to give you an idea of the range of acts the venue can support. My seats, while not in the front half of the theater, were DEAD CENTER and just two rows behind the sound board. It was a perfect view. It was also a perfect place to get a good look at the audience. Oddly, while I expected the crowd to be mostly comprised of middle-aged women, I did expect a bit more diversity than I saw. There were plenty of men, but they were all husbands to the middle-aged women. I am almost 100% certain that Rich and I were both the youngest men there and also the only unattached men there. It was...weird. But then I guess this whole minor obsession thing is sort of weird, too...so that seems about right, I guess. What's interesting is that 90% of the audience stood for 90% of the show...everyone who didn't have arthritis, basically.

Rich, an open-minded non-fan, will testify to just how good a show Springfield put on. First, without a doubt, the man can play a guitar and play it well. Sometimes, when you don't like a particular song or an entire style of music, it's easy to not notice the technical artistry that a musician has. I'm guilty of this often, but anyone watching this performance would have to come away with a tremendous appreciation for Rick Springfield the guitar player. He literally played until his fingers bled...and then kept on playing (after applying a Spongebob Squarepants band-aid). Strip away the good looks and his soap-opera-idol following and you still have a damn good guitarist. While Rick loves playing to his fans' expectations, it's also clear he's playing with something to prove. His accompanying band was also outstanding...the kind of professional musicians who have done this their whole lives with little to no fanfare.

The show itself was electric, mixing in several songs from his most recent album, countless classics, and a few covers. All in all it was about a 20-song set with no intermission. One of the more thrilling bits was his rendition of Human Touch. Having seen some YouTube videos of his last performance at The Borgata in March, I had some idea what to expect, but it was still rather shocking to see this 60-year-old man climb into the audience and precariously walk (and run) from the arm of one seat to another...occasionally stopping to sing (and be groped). Here's one video from early on in his stage exodus:



At one point he slipped and fell and got his leg caught between a seat. I feared he would be crippled as they worked for a good 15-20 seconds to free him...but, amazingly, he was fine and then jumped up on to the next level of seats. Now about 30 rows deep into the audience, he was coming my way! My camera had been zoomed in at the max and it doesn't allow me to zoom out while filming. It's a complicated process so I decided to keep filming at the zoom ratio as there just wasn't time for an on-the-fly adjustment. Within seconds he was directly in front of me and, well, he touched me. Or maybe I touched him. It doesn't matter, I suppose. The song is called Human Touch (you all remember that one, right?) and, damnit, I got my touch. Yes, as he precariously danced across the seat in front of me, his sweat dripped on me and my outstretched hand grabbed his wrist and helped him along. See the annotated video below for the proof:



Go ahead. Make fun. You just clearly are lacking the human touch...and I pity you.

Having had a few days to reflect back upon the show, I now think I know what Rick's going for. I think he wants to be the next Tom Jones. He still flaunts his sex appeal and he's easily the most showy performer I've ever seen on stage. From Pete Townsend-like windmill strums of the guitar, to animated hand and facial gestures, to destroying about six dozen roses by using them to play the guitar (I could have lived without that), he's there to give you (women mostly) your money's worth. It's crazy to say this, but I don't see him slowing down anytime soon. He tours non-stop and does about 100 concerts a year. And, like Tom Jones, he's mostly known for one big hit... (video not mine---but it's a great look at his stage bravado)



I know I've spent a LOT of time on this blog in the last few months talking about Rick Springfield, and that's going to mostly stop now that the concert is over, but it truly was a minor dream come true...one put on the back burner for far too long, and one I no longer feel ashamed of.

Well, mostly not ashamed.

4 Comments:

Blogger Aim said...

sounds like a great night! Found you through my google alert for Rick!

September 30, 2009 at 2:20 PM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

Thanks for the commnent! It was a great show. I suspect it won't be my last...

October 1, 2009 at 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Debbie said...

Thank you for that GREAT review of the show. I was there (travelled from Minnesota)and this was my 11th Rick show since reconnecting with his music last Nov. 2008 and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon =)

October 3, 2009 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

Great Review!! I have been a devoted fan since I was 14.....28 years ago...and I love him more & more each time I see him (about 25+ concerts or so in the last 10 years!!) He always amazes me with his energy and love for his fans. He will always be my #1!!

October 3, 2009 at 6:50 PM  

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