80’s Icon Proves He’s Equally Capable as Storyteller and Comedian
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Review
Like technology, Rick Springfield version 1982 is notably different than Rick Springfield 2022. The former day time soap opera heart throb turned pop music idol has evolved over the past 40 years. Before 1500 plus fans crowd at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center, the noted singer songwriter and musician proved he still has the chops as he brought his ‘Stripped Down’ tour back to the Holy City.
The native Aussie making his home in California took concert goers on a musical journey that began in the late 1960’s. Without a backup band, Springfield on stage with a half dozen guitars and a laptop spent 90 minutes revisiting his signature songs while engaging the audience with stories and photos of his childhood and rise to stardom.
After a resounding shout out and thanking fans for embracing his career, Springfield returned to 1964 where his journey to become like the Beatles began. He opened up about his awkward years sharing intimate photos of his family back in Australia all the while finding solace in his first love the guitar, including the ones he and his friends stole to make money to support their better guitar habits and first used car.
The evening kicked off with a video tribute mostly from the 1980’s and his rise to fame including early clips on American Bandstand, MTV, General Hospital and his first full length movie ‘Hard to Hold’. After the montage Springfield walked on stage picked up a guitar and began to thoroughly entertain the crowd with many ladies no doubt reliving their teenage years.
Springfield opened his show with his well-known 1983 hit ‘Affair of the Heart’ before setting the tone for the evening with ‘Light This Party Up’. He jumped right into ‘I Get Excited’ which was a nice segue way into the title track off ‘Living in Oz’. ‘I’ve Done Everything for You’ paid tribute to his longtime friend and current Beach Bar Rum partner Sammy Hagar.
Some lesser-known tracks ensued, but like he did all night, he peppered the songs with humorous intros. As each song unfolded Springfield shared the stories behind them, providing snippets of his time entertaining the troops in Vietnam while just 18 years old. He offered a salute to his longtime pal from down under with ‘Me & Johnny’ as well as a moving tribute to his dad with ‘My Father’s Chair’
Midway through his show he offered up a montage of 80’s songs, some from his arsenal and others that joined him on the Top 40 charts, including an awesome mash up of his signature song ‘Jessie’s Girl’ woven into ‘Stacy’s Mom’, and Tommy Tutone’s ‘867-5309-Jenny’. Judging by the audience approval, it was one of the favorite numbers on the night.
An equally amusing tale from yesteryear was the time Springfield spent with Todd Rundgren in 1986. He recalls taking an eight-hour drive to San Franciso which resulted in a failed songwriting venture, only to get stoned watching an episode of ‘Gomer Pyle’. The accompanying images on the big screen behind Rick added flavor to the whole experience and set up nicely for Rick’s cover of ‘Love Is the Answer’ complete with a pre-taped gospel choir.
Springfield saved his biggest chart singles for the final lap, closing the show with five of his signature songs beginning with ‘Love Is Alright Tonite’, ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’, ”Love Somebody’, and ‘Human Touch’ with him high fiving several fans in the front row. Proving his musical tastes vary, he added ‘The Voodoo House’ from his 2018 blues infused album ‘Snake King’. Springfield admits he doesn’t take himself or his career to seriously as he got the whole crowd laughing hysterically on ‘If Wishes Were Fishes’.
After thanking the crowd, he closed out the show out with his lone chart topper with the entire audience on their feet singing the chorus in unison. ‘Jessie’s Girl’ pretty much put Springfield on the musical map in 1982 and introduced non soap opera fans to a gifted singer songwriter who had been struggling for nearly a decade before the debut single from his multi-platinum LP ‘Working Class Dog’ peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 200 giving him three Top 40 hits.
The back story to ‘Jessie’s Girl’ is without a doubt one of his most treasured. He worked on the album in late 1970’s while contemplating a career in stained glass. While working out at the gym he longed for attention of Gary’s girlfriend, but she had little interest in him. The name Gary didn’t resonate with him, nor did the subsequent title Randy. However, Jessie seemed more fitting, and a future chart topper was in the making.
Rick Springfield hails from the land down under, but for over four decades he has been an American icon. 72 years young he still has his early heart throb swagger, rock star looks, and a heaping helping of tongue and cheek humor. He is a veteran entertainer who has grown comfortable in his own skin, and his ‘Stripped Down’ show proves he equally suited to perform as a stand-up comic.
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