March 9, 2011
Plant City, FL
Florida Strawberry Festival
Review & Photo by: Kelley Pearson
Rick rocked the Strawberry Festival, as I knew he would! It was a show I’ll never forget! I had my best friend beside me, the friend who I discovered Rick Springfield with while we were young girls…back in the “heyday” of MTV, Rick’s time on General Hospital and also our days of teen magazines. So naturally, this was a much-anticipated night for us! I have seen Rick live many times now, but this was her first experience, and one she explained to me was like no other concert she has attended…Ever. She said it felt so “personal,” like he was performing just for her. She said she now understands why his fans are constantly returning to his shows. Yes, I think she nailed it. Smiling, (okay, BEAMING!), I agreed that Rick always gives you the feeling that if you were the only person to show up at the venue, he would still rock it out just as hard and passionately as he would for an arena full of fans. One more person now understands the magic of an RS show. There is something wonderful and almost gratifying about watching the excitement on the face of someone seeing him perform for the first time. It’s a feeling of ‘See! I told you Rick’s an amazing performer!’ She totally “got” his humor and laughed along with me throughout the show, commenting that Rick is “SO funny!” It also wasn’t long before she shouted in my ear that Rick looks INCREDIBLE for a 61 year-old man and that he “drips with sex appeal” on stage. LOL!! So she noticed… ;-)
The show opened up with Who Killed Rock & Roll, which is a good rocking song to kick off with. As always when Rick takes the stage, it feels like magic to me, like time has stood still for the next 90 minutes. I can never contain my excitement or energy when Rick is in the house. My friend and I immediately jumped to our feet and began dancing and rocking out, only to look around and discover that almost NO ONE was standing up!! Only little groups of the crowd in each section or a few people here and there were on their feet, while everyone else remained seated for almost the entire show. What??! As a whole, this was one of the strangest (deadbeat? lol) crowds I have seen. OK…seriously odd to me that people could sit still while Rick is up there pumping out that natural energy of his. So maybe it wasn’t too horrible most were sitting, because when they performed I’ve Done Everything For You, Rick veered over to our side of the stage and pointed towards us. This thrilled my “Rick Virgin” friend who shouted at me, “He was pointing at US!“ I can’t be sure, but I think she was right. I glanced around to see if others were standing up yet, but possibly our entire section (at least as far back as I could see…we were in the 7th row) was seated except for one other person, and she was directly behind us.
Rick looked amazing and happy that night, dressed in a long-sleeved black shirt (long sleeves? In Florida?!), black pants, and a long black scarf-type thing. I wonder how soon before he ditches the scarf completely? It kept drifting over the guitar and getting in his way while he was playing. He later took it off. Also, I think he had on his “blingy” shoes, but I can’t recall for sure. I was grateful he was able to lose the arm sling recently and play guitar for our show, especially since I had a “newbie” with me. Apparently the after-effects from surgery haven’t affected his killer guitar-playing. He appeared to never miss a beat.
They played the usual hits, but much to my joy and surprise, Itsalwayssomething was on the set list that night. Following were a few songs from Venus in Overdrive, one being the title track (which is my favorite “new” song! Love the heavy bass in that one!), along with What’s Victoria’s Secret and I’ll Miss That Someday. The crowd continued to remain somewhat “still” at this point. My friend and I would stand up for a bit, then sit down for a minute or two, for fear we were blocking someone. Awkward! The sitting would become more than I could stand, and we would jump to our feet again! I asked the woman behind us if we were “blocking her,” and her reply was something like, ‘No! Not at all! What’s wrong with these people? I can’t sit down for a Rick show.’
Rick was in great spirits, chatting playfully with people across the front row during his Don‘t Talk To Strangers bit. I think his first “victim“ was one of the security guys…and wow, what a TON of security they had lined up, guarding the stairs with their life! And by the way, that was the highest stage set-up I personally have ever seen him perform on. For the sake of visibility, it was probably just as well we weren’t seated in the 1st or 2nd row. Rick kept on teasing people, especially the Queen of the Strawberry Festival and her runner-ups. He questioned why she had a “sash” across her chest and she explained the meaning behind it. I couldn’t hear all of what she said, but judging by her red cheeks on the big screen, he was embarrassing her. As most of us know, that only adds more fuel to the fire and he won’t let up! He did the usual “you suck” when someone sang into the mic at his request, which cracked my friend up. I’ve seen most of these jokes and stints before, but it’s a lot of fun with someone who’s never heard it before.
There were a few rose explosions that night, one of which I think was during Affair of the Heart, but unfortunately our rose bouquet was not one of them. At the point when we were down front with other fans, I really should have attempted to toss them on the stage. But again…security on every corner and a tall stage didn’t make for a great situation. If you even appeared to be inching too close, they would swerve in front of you and block you like a big statue. I’m not sure why, as the stage floor was way OVER our heads. Not like I was going to sprout springs on my feet and jump the stage from that level! LOL
For the opening of I Get Excited, Rick asked the crowd, “So…when you first heard this song when you were 12-years old, who was really surprised to find out what this song was actually about?” The crowd cheered. After the first line that says, “well you admit you like the game but you’re not gonna play,” he stops and says, “I think you thought I meant jacks back then.” Next line: “you just ignore what you’re body is trying to say,” and Rick stops to say, “no, I didn’t mean your body was trying to tell you that you needed to go to the bathroom.” (HA!) And again after the next lyric that says, “baby please I can’t please if I’m on my knees,” he jokes, “actually that’s not entirely true. I CAN please when I’m on my knees. Just depends where YOU are.”
At one point Rick drew attention to the fact that Rodger had shaved off his eyebrows!! Silly boy! When the cameras zoomed in on him, I then realized why I had been wondering earlier in the show who the heck was on the drums that “sort of” resembled Rodger, but not quite. LOL! In fact, Rick began to tease him about it, asking the crowd if that was weird-looking! Yes, it was odd! Next came the first few chords and lines from the Beatles Strawberry Fields, in which my friend and most of the crowd seemed excited to hear…but then we were quickly bummed he didn’t finish the song. It was just a quick “teaser” before picking on the Strawberry Queen once again and then launching into Gloria, which did end up making up for the Beatles tease, even though I’ve seen the Gloria cover countless times now. It was clever and appropriate they threw in that song teaser, considering Plant City is a town who’s livelihood has always been based on strawberry farms and citrus groves. Plant City is also my mom’s hometown by the way! For my friend and I to return to this festival together after 28 years and especially the Rick event that night, it created a special nostalgic day for me all around.
I thought it was comical how Rick began the “racier version” of Gloria, stating that Gloria said, “ah…F-f-f” in which he cut it off mid-word, quickly thinking to ask if there were any children here tonight. Yet he didn’t think of that earlier in the show with the comments during IGE. Lol. And yes, several kids were there, many near the front. He made the usual jokes throughout the Gloria skit including “soaking” with his rubber ducky, but left off the “naked and soaking,” bit. But he continued with the “raise your right hand girls,” and once again teasing the festival queen by saying, “Come on Miss Pageant. Right hand up. Come on girls. Help her out. She looks like she needs her right hand raised.” lol He also points to and tells a young girl she needs to block her ears for this one and then goes into, ‘she puts it right between my legs. And she pulls the plug!’
When Rick did Love Somebody, I was surprised he didn’t say the usual, “who saw my naked butt in that movie?” Instead he asked if he should’ve won an Oscar for that movie and then proceeded to ask if his ass should’ve won an Oscar. Funny! It was interesting to watch the crowd around this time in the show. When Rick did Don’t Talk To Strangers, people began milling around a tiny bit and some moving down near the stage, but most were still sitting down. Then when he began the crowd walk (and sadly, no human touch for my friend that night, as he veered off to our right instead…), people starting moving and shifting and standing up, probably so they could see where he went or try to get close. The security began to look nervous and more edgy I noticed. Then there was a scary moment when Rick stepped on the first few chairs and was literally swaying and tipping, arms out to either side to keep his balance. He looked for a moment like he was surfing!! Of course he was saying, “don’t let me fall!” but honestly…for a few seconds, I thought he was going down, laughing and smiling as he went! I wonder if the crowd nearby didn’t know what to do until he requested they help him out. He managed to stay up and continued climbing over and onto very wobbly folding chairs. It didn’t seem like he stayed in the crowd as long as usual. Most of the crowd who had been shifting around during Human Touch returned to their seats when it ended.
I can’t recall exactly when it happened, if it was when he started Jessie’s Girl or if it was at the start of the encore, but suddenly it looked like 200 people had gotten together and plotted to rush the stage! It was WEIRD to see people rushing to the front that way in one big moving group…at the END of the show no less…rather than the start. One minute, almost no one. The next minute…people were cramming into every available space near the stage area. And the funniest thing was that all the security seemed to disappear in that instant. I have no idea where they all went for a short time (as they did return a bit later). Was it break time? Haha My friend and I also made our way down front for the encore, in hopes that Rick would see her roses and do another “explosion.” We were right beside a large speaker when Rick left the stage and the encore music cranked up into the heartbeat/breathing sounds. The hopes of the crowd that he would return to the stage were apparent at this point by the frenzied shouts and screams coming from behind us. I was hoping he would lose that long-sleeved black shirt for the encore, (or change on stage?!) especially since he was sweating so much in it. You know, we wouldn’t want Rick to burn up during the show or anything. ;-)
I was beside myself when he ran back out and kicked into I’ll Make You Happy!! What an energetic guitar-driven song that is! Songs from SDAA are always welcome in my book. The only “change” I noticed when he returned was he had his glasses on. Since the show, I have been second-guessing myself and thinking he might have played Jesus Saves, but I can’t remember for sure. If anyone has any input or corrections on the set list, please speak up! In my excitement that evening, it’s possible I’ve forgotten a few songs.
The show ended with a great performance of Kristina, with most of the crowd singing along. As always, a Rick concert never seems long enough, although they played about 18 songs. The time leading up to the event seemed like an eternity! Overall, it was a fantastic show with great memories. And most of all, it was a thrill to share a Rick show with my lifelong best friend. She says she WILL be returning to another Rick show in the near future, and of course I too will be looking for the next event.
The set list: (as best I can remember it. Don’t quote me on the order of the songs. I think they’re close, but not exact)
- Who Killed Rock & Roll
- I’ve Done Everything For You
- What’s Victoria’s Secret
- I’ll Miss That Someday
- I Get Excited
- Affair of the Heart
- Venus In Overdrive
- Love Is Alright Tonight
- Strawberry Fields (teaser)
- Love Somebody
- Don’t Talk To Strangers
- Human Touch
- Jessie’s Girl
- I’ll Make You Happy