Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gathering on the Green Review

Review by B. Minett 

Gathering on the Green – Rotary Park
Mequon, WI
July 10, 2015

Concert Notes: 
This concert was the headliner of the first day of Gathering on the Green, a local two-day musical festival at a large, multi-use park outside of Milwaukee. In addition to the nightly concerts, people picnic before the show and there were many tents set up with food to purchase if you hadn’t brought your own. They also have children’s events on the second day of the festival, so this is a very family-oriented event.  

The stage for the concert was set on a small hill – but there wasn’t even an elevated stage; everything was setup at ground level. Reserved seating was “luxurious” white plastic lawn chairs with arm rests (the venue’s description of the seating); there was also a lawn section behind the reserved seating, where you could bring your own lawn chair or blanket. Due to the stage setup and the rigging for the lights, there was a large space between the stage and the reserved seating area, going down the small hill, then up the start of another small hill. Also, from the reserved seating on the sides, it was difficult to see the stage, as the lighting and equipment were in the way; unfortunately, these were the seats that were sold during the RS fan club pre-sale. Fortunately, before the concert began, security allowed fans to move and sit on the grass at the bottom on the hill in front of the stage, with the instructions that we had to stay seated and there could only be one row of people; they also allowed fans to sit on the hill at the sides leading up the stage, behind the roped off security taped area (behind the light rigging) – as long as they didn’t pull on the roping and knock down the lights! This made for an unusual concert seating arrangement – who stays seated at a Rick Springfield concert?! But it was one of the most relaxed concerts I’ve attended. No stage rushing or pushing. And, as a bonus, Rick frequently came off the stage onto the grassy knoll while playing guitar – just as if he were walking around your backyard! He did so when he first walked out, seeing the fans and walking directing down the hill to stand in front of those seated there on the grass while playing the opening music. 

The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert, with sunny, blue skies and not-to-warm temperatures. The concert began before dark – and Rick pointed out a drone in the sky when he first came on-stage - but once it was dark, the bugs were drawn to the lights on the stage and were bothering Rick. He said there were some weird bugs here – this from a man who grew-up in Australia with all its’ weird insects!  

The set list was the same as it’s been at recent full-band shows, with the screen and videos to accompany the songs. I wondered if that was maybe why he hasn’t been changing up the full-band set-list much recently, as it would be more difficult to do so with the videos and lighting effects? Also, most of the band members are still fairly new, and may not know a lot of Rick’s songs, especially since he hasn’t been doing as many shows with the band recently. I would have liked to hear more songs from the Shock Denial Anger Acceptance CD, as were meant to be played live and LOUD. And, I always like to hear more songs that Rick has written, rather than the covers that he plays – though the audience really seemed to like his rendition of Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’. Something else I really noticed at this concert, was while the audience went wild for ‘Jessie’s Girl’, the fans sitting at the bottom of the grassy knoll reacted more enthusiastically to the newer songs on his set list (an observation I’ve heard Rick talk about before). 

A few songs into the concert, Rick noticed a lot of empty seats in the middle section (maybe these were vendor seats?), and told people to move forward into them, as it bothered him to see them empty. He also mentioned early on that everyone didn’t seem as drunk as he expected, since there was the tents with alcohol being served (which speaks well to the family-oriented nature of this festival).  

Rick teased with ‘Jessie’s Girl’ early in the show when he noticed someone getting up and walking toward the back. He said, “You don’t want to go to the bathroom now, because I just might play…” followed by chords to the chorus of ‘Jessie’s Girl’. 

He introduced ‘Our Ship’s Sinking’ by first asking if anyone had heard about the plaque from the Titanic that recently resurfaced. (If you’re a Titanic freak then that info would have shown up at the top on your phone, he said.) He joked about his “geeky” side that was fascinated by Titanic and Star Wars and still lived in his mother’s basement, and he mentioned the rare Star Wars figurine he owns. Then he introduced the song (‘Our Ship’s Sinking’) as being about Star Wars – oops, Rick!  

 In between songs, he asked if anyone had seen him on True Detective, and said his character was a little….“creepy”. He also mentioned that his new CD, Mayhem, would be coming out in January. I was hoping when he said this, that he was introducing a new song from the CD (perhaps ‘Light This Party Up’, that he debuted for fans during the Rickation getaway this past spring) - but alas, it was not to be. It was his introduction to a song from his last CD, ‘I Hate Myself’. He sang the second line as, “Everyone thinks I’m creepy and so do I.” 

In addition to walking out onto the grassy knoll to play guitar many times during the concert, Rick also went into the audience seats more than usual, standing on the chairs to play guitar (such as during the intro to ‘Wild Thing’).  And, of course, he waded quite far out into the seated section during ‘Human Touch’. 

During ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’, Rick first sat on the lap of a security guy sitting in a lawn chair at the side of the stage, and told him the usual line that  “girls like a guy who sings”. Then, when he first went out into the audience, he chose an older gentleman sitting in the front row, who had his arms crossed. He waded far out into the audience to have more people sing, and then on his way back to the stage, he grabbed the hand a little girl sitting on the grass. He brought her up onto the stage with him and first had her dance, while he jumped around like she was doing. After she sang the line, he directed her off stage, joking that she was making him look bad, because she danced better than him.  

When introducing ‘Alyson’, he said this was the only song that he used the actual name of a girl that the song was about – something he knew not to do anymore. At the end of this song, he threw his guitar on the ground in front of the stage; when the audience gasp, he said not to worry; it only landed on the grass.  

When he returned to the stage after his sojourn out in the audience for ‘Human Touch’, he had a lighted hula hoop, that he tried to use – but couldn’t get it to spin. He tried a second time, and still didn’t have the hip action to get it to spin.  

As an introduction to ‘Love Somebody’, Rick asked if anyone had seen any movies recently. Then he talked about being in an upcoming movie, Ricki and the Flash, with Meryl Streep, in theatres on August 7. Little more than that was said about the movie, except that it was better than the last movie he was in.  

Who was there: Rick on lead guitar and vocals, George B on guitar, George N on bass, Jorge P on drums, Tim G on keyboards and guitar, sound guy Mattie, and guitar tech, Ruben. 

What he wore: Rick came out in a black suit jacket, black sleeveless dress shirt with white placket and stitching, black jeans, black leather boots, and round glasses with blue-tinted lenses. He took the jacket off after the first few songs and for the encore, he came back wearing a tight white t-shirt.  

Rick’s hair has obviously grown back from when it was cut for his True Detective role. However, the sides in the front and his sideburns were graying; he also had a shadow of a beard. During the concert, he was constantly slicking back the sides of his hair back with both hands, as the sides were styled a little differently than usual.

Set List:
Living in Oz
I’ve Done Everything For You
I’ll Make You Happy
I Get Excited
Our Ship’s Sinking
Affair of the Heart
I Hate Myself

Bop medley: (Bop ‘Til You Drop/ Celebrate Youth/ Calling All Girls/ Jessie’s Girl snippet/ Don’t Walk Away/ State of the Heart/ What Kind of Fool Am I)

Love Is Alright
Surf guitar music)
Wild Thing
Don’t Talk To Strangers
Human Touch
Love Somebody
Jessie’s Girl
We Can Work It Out

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