Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rick Springfield rocks Ft Worth

BillyBob’s Texas Fort Worth, Texas February 28, 2009
review & picture by Shelly Reigh

Every time I see Rick in concert, I think how the show is even better than the previous one I attended. Rick continues to amaze me, and I am still reeling from the excitement of the show this past Saturday.

Billy Bob’s claims to be the “world’s largest honky-tonk.” The venue has some serious limitations, like the obtrusive columns, wide seating area, crowded tables and chairs, expectation of staying seated during a show, overzealous bouncers, and lack of decent wheelchair seating.. (Seriously, don’t get me started on the pitiful excuse for a wheelchair area, or on how cruel the staff was to our friend who couldn’t see anything during the entire show because of this shameful lack of accommodations.) It does have the advantage of a second stage, so the opening band doesn’t interfere with the equipment setup on the main stage.. Before taking my seat I made the obligatory trip to the hand print wall to find Rick’s prints from his Feb. 2008 show. I was amazed at how Rick’s hand print makes my hand look like that of a child by comparison. His fingers are very long - so fitting for a master of the guitar.

I took my seat fairly early. I was in the front row, but way to the right side and directly in front of the PA speakers. Thank goodness I still had my daughter’s ear plugs in my car from Rick’s show in October. On time, the stage lights went down and we heard “Nothing Is Ever Lost” coming from the PA. Rodger went into his extended drum intro, and when the lights came up we had that beautiful moment when Rick first appears in the spotlight, full of promise for the 90 minutes to come. Rick was a dashing sight in his long black jacket, black embroidered sleeveless shirt, ripped jeans, and new black sparkly Converse. He began “Mr. PC” with a vengeance, jumping around the stage, smiling at the audience, doing all his moves passionately. Without pause, they segued into “What’s Victoria’s Secret”. It was clear that most of the audience was there just for Rick, as all but the front-and-center most section of the crowd had already risen to their feet. Rick’s energy was through the roof, and that perfect feedback loop between him and his audience was in play. He seemed just as awed by us as we were by him. Yeah, Texas loves you, Rick!

When “Affair of the Heart” began, so did the rose explosions. There were plenty of bouquets and single roses; more than once he picked up a single rose and put it in his mouth (Tango style) before bashing it against his guitar. The show continued with “Living In Oz,” and we could not have asked for a more passionate performance. Rick was all over the stage: leaning over to interact with the crowd, beating his guitar, jumping to the beat, soloing on his knees just above the fans, returning to the mic only when necessary. After the first four songs, Rick removed his jacket and treated us to his beautiful biceps.

There was a guy in the audience, front and center, who knew all of Rick’s moves and was performing them in sync with Rick. He was so funny, facing the crowd, acting out the songs like a cheerleader at a pep rally. I loved the fact that this guy had clearly seen a number of shows and was not afraid to enjoy himself. Remember our friend Mark (I learned his name later) because he has another important role to play.

Rick stopped after Alyson to tell the crowd about his newest CD. He then tutored everyone for the audience participation portion - the “Yeah, yeah” of “Venus In Overdrive”. When he was satisfied that we knew our part, the song began. Was the crowd into it? Yeah, yeah! There were screams of delight from the audience to keep Rick pumped. He jumped, spun around, and danced with his guitar. The intensity was sustained through “I’ll Miss That Someday,” and rose again for “Love Is Alright Tonite” in its new position on first half of the set list.

That brings us to the most spontaneous moment of the night. Rick was clearly loving the crowd. After “Love Is Alright Tonight” he stood at the edge of the stage, leaned forward, and dropped down to the floor. Others have written that he “fell” off of the stage. From my vantage point, it looked like he simply leaned forward past the point of no return. Perhaps he had planned to jump onto a table, but decided against it at the last moment. Maybe he was in the mood to do a stage dive. Either way, he landed safely in the capable hands of our friend Mark. Still holding his Sunburst Fender Strat, he mounted a table and walked into the crowd as far as the cable would allow. He usually switches to the wireless rig before “coming out there;” this was a completely unexpected move. George N. rushed to Rick’s guitar amp on stage to keep the cable from being unplugged. He crouched down, held the cable in place, and wore an expression that said Rick had clearly gone insane. (You gotta love George. He is the glue that holds the shows together.) In the meantime, Rick was on the table playing a hot solo for the surprised crowd. He then began “Crossroads,” walked back up the table, hopped up on stage, and got to the mic just in time for the first word. Now that’s a class act!

“Crossroads” segued into “DTTS.” Rick was all energy and passion, kicks and moves, and my poor little camera couldn’t focus on him long enough to get a decent picture. He again walked the tables into the crowd, but this time with only the two wireless microphones . Everyone on the receiving end of his mic seemed to be prepared. He commented, “You guys are all pretty brave to sing. Any scaredy-cats in the audience?” and thrust the mic to a guy who didn’t miss a beat. He moved on to a guy named Keith, “to see if you’ve been paying attention,” who also was up to the task. Finally, Rick found a cute little girl named Kennedy and got her up on the table with him. He said how he loved Texas, because “you can bring your kids with you to a bar.” Kennedy was also up to the challenge and did a great job. Rick joked, “Get that girl a tequila shot.” He made his way back to the stage, picked up his guitar, and the Medley began.

After the Medley, George helped Rick into his wireless headset and guitar, and Rick introduced “Love Somebody” by asking how many of us were under 15 when we saw “Hard to Hold.” (In fact, I was barely 13, and that movie was whole reason I became a fan. Yeah, that naked butt catapulted me right into puberty, and I was hooked for life.) Someone in the audience had a big, rainbow-striped hat, and Rick put it on for a few seconds, saying, “I’m not above making an ass of myself.” He put down his guitar and walked the tables for “Human Touch,” both hands free to give high-fives and hugs. When he made it back on stage and picked up his guitar, “Jessie’s Girl” began and I knew that it was the beginning of the end..

During “Jessie’s Girl” Rick was still dancing, jumping, and doing windmills on his guitar. There were lots more rose explosions as fans rushed to get their bouquets up to the stage while they still could. On the song’s last note Rick exploded some roses on Rodger’s cymbals, and then the band played the Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy” while Rick introduced the band members. I would be negligent if I didn’t mention what a great job those guys do - they are all amazingly talented musicians who really know how to rock. Rick gave us our long-distance hugs, and they all went back stage. The lights stayed down while the “heavy breathing” track played through the speakers. When the breathing accelerated to a frenzied level the band took the stage, and Rick ran back out in a dry WKKR T-shirt. They went straight into “Kristina” for a powerful one-song encore - more jumping, rose explosions, and Rick connecting with his adoring audience. The screaming, pulsating guitar riff and sexual innuendo of that song make for a fabulous ending to a high-energy show and leave me trying to figure out when I can make it to the next one.

Set list:
1. Mr. PC
2. What’s Victoria’s Secret?
3. Affair of the Heart
4. Living In Oz
5. I’ve Done Everything for You
6. Alyson
7. Venus In Overdrive
8. I’ll Miss That Someday
9. Love Is Alright Tonite
10. guitar solo - Crossroads
11. Don’t Talk to Strangers
12. Medley:
13. Love Somebody
14. Human Touch
15. Jessie’s Girl
Encore - Kristina

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