Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rick Springfield Rocks Orange County

Rick Springfield Rocked Orange County on July 12, 2009

Review by Laurie Bennett

Rick's show was part of the concert series at the Orange County Fair, but held at the Pacific Amphitheater, a permanent venue that has concerts year round and happens to be next to the fair grounds. It's a large outdoor venue, amphitheater style, so the seats rise up behind each other, as if built in the side of a hill. I like these arrangements so much better than the "flat" floors, where every seat is at the same height, and the short people miss out.

It was still light outside when Rick began, and although the day had been 85-90 degrees, it had cooled off by evening and became pleasant. I didn't check my watch when the show started, so I don't know if it was on time or not. They started playing several songs from VIO on the sound system, and then the evening officially started with the video montage showing on 2 huge screens to the side of the stage. There was a decent pause at the end of the video before the Roger started the drum solo, and finally the guys all came on stage.

Rick was wearing pale grey jeans, his black studded shoes, a sleeveless button down shirt and a grey striped vest. Three ladies in the front row came in a bit late, one holding a bottled beer. Rick walked over towards her, as if she had been late specifically because she was getting him a drink, and said, oh thanks, and took the beer out of her hands and took a swig. Pure surprise on her face, too funny! He asked once how his beer was doing, and made sure she got a piece of the guitar he smashed later in the show.

After a song or 2, Rick threw his first guitar towards George, but since Rick had stepped on the cord, it came to a quick stop short of where George was standing. I think he managed to catch it with his foot before it landed too hard on the ground. But every guitar George threw back was unsatisfactory to Rick - in a span of only a few songs, Rick traded out 6 guitars!!! Not being familiar with the technical aspects of a guitar, I'm not sure what was wrong with each one, but at least one was sorely out of tune. At first Rick took it in stride, then he seemed frustrated and broke that particular guitar into smithereens, then really quite peeved, and finally had to give up and just laugh it off, telling the audience that the Guitar Gremlins were out and about! Finally he got a guitar he really liked and sounded good, but before he even finished a verse a string had broken. So he did most of Alyson sans guitar. Meanwhile, Rick was working up quite the sweat, and shortly into the show the vest came off. He teased the audience by pretending to throw it to a fan, and then tossed it aside instead towards George, who ran out to pick it up with the tips of two fingers, and making a face as in "ewwww, Rick Sweat" he carried it away, holding it as far away from his own body as possible. Eventually, all the buttons of his sleeveless shirt managed to come open on their own, and the intensity of the group greatly increased when he finally just took the shirt off.

At that point he had to be sure everyone knew he had a birthday coming up, and did anyone know how old he is? He said - thirty... times two!!! (Hi Ally!) He went into the audience for some human touch with a handheld microphone. Fans were either thrilled he was coming towards him, or a bit turned off by the sweaty body (sigh), because lots of people reached out for hands, but he received less help being held up, standing on the backs of the chairs. Finally one girl put her hands square on the back pockets of his jeans, she truly couldn't reach any higher, but he didn't seem to mind since he was still upright. He did fall once, but nothing serious. He got the security guard to sing for Don't Talk to Strangers, and then also went out to find the one woman he had been watching all night, just sitting in her chair, arms crossed, no expression on her face. He teased her saying she was thinking - who the heck is this guy? That's not Noah Drake!

Back on stage, George had set out a dry shirt for Rick to wear, it was the same color as the Who Killed R&R shirt, but sleeveless and had the seams on the outside and a detailed collar. He started to put it on, and everyone began booing. Seems it took Rick a second to figure out why everyone was upset. He gave us a funny face, threw the shirt back on top of the mic stand, and said, "You guys are so spoiled!!!" A song later he tried again, finally explaining he was cold! He also had two darling girls on stage for DTTS (I may have a photo, so please contact me off list). The older girl, about 11? was ready for her part and excited, but the little 8 year old was quite shy. Rick praised her for wearing ear plugs, saying if he had only done so 30 years ago he wouldn't be half deaf today. The first girl sang, trying not to stand too close to Rick, dripping sweat, and when the little girl made an "ew" type face, he said, hold on, I'll sweat on you in a minute! When it was her turn, she sang "Baby don't, don't talk to strangers" in the most adorable voice. Not to excited about their sweaty hugs, they ran off stage at the first possible chance.

During Crossroads, Matt's son Josh, age 12 played the drum part - amazingly well! Rick said, wow imagine him at 15! And there was another boy Nicky who played tambourine; I think he was also Matt's son but I'm not sure. Proud mom came on stage to take photos of the drummer. He was really talented, and I could see him watching Rick for cues on timing, etc. Roger stood behind in event of having to take over, but there was no need. During the rest of the concert, I saw the boy sitting on the floor behind Roger, playing the exact same parts with his own drumsticks, hitting the floor. There were a few rose explosions, almost all of them red, and one or two already on stage prepared for Rick.

Rick really seemed to be having a great time and was full of energy, though I did hear him cough once or twice. The audience had blown up about 3 or 4 different round balloons, which were being tossed all around the venue, a la beach ball at a high school graduation ceremony. Rick and the guys participated by kicking them back towards the fans each time one ventured on stage. One even went straight up and then came down on top of Rick's head, and he laughed quite hard at that. We got a 2 song encore - and instead of doing wasted, as written on the set list, he sang "I'll Make You Happy", such a nice treat to hear.

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