rick sprinfieldEveryone remembers Rick Springfield as easily as they recall the opening chords of “Jessie’s Girl,” one of the catchiest power pop tunes of all time, but Springfield has proven himself to be more than the sum of one stellar song, as he proved with energy and verve Aug. 12 at Moline’s I wireless center, during a massively entertaining 90 minute show.

Springfield has always been an act I’ve enjoyed and touted to people as they’ve rolled their eyes, typically bogged down with the perception of him as a teen idol or a heartthrob actor from his time on “General Hospital,” but to anyone familiar with Springfield’s catalog or who has seen him in concert, the guy has got some serious power pop and rock chops and he puts on a terrific show.

Those who saw him Friday night undoubtedly saw the light as I did many years ago, when my mind was likewise changed by the experience of seeing Springfield live.

I took my son, Jackson, 8, with me to the concert and he too was impressed and ramped up with the high-energy blast of Springfield’s set. The guy just exudes a palpable sense of glee on stage, ripping through his umpteen hit songs and his album tracks, including new stuff from his latest disc, “Rocket Science,” in between offhand comments and riffs, while spicing things up with rocked up surprises of covers, including, on Friday night, a cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar” that rocked the house and one of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Up” that had the place in stitches and up for grabs. It was great fun, and really, what more do you want from a rock concert? Me, I want to go to a show and have a good time, and that’s what Springfield was delivering.

He hit the stage to a pulsating light show following a slick video recap of his multi-decade career, careening from his seeming one-hit-wonder stage in the early ‘70s when he came and went from the charts, up through his time in the ‘70s hinterlands and into his improbable resurgence in the early ‘80s as one of the biggest stars on the planet, fueled by the dual power of his starring role on “General Hospital” as Noah Drake and, even more so, by the hit that has become his signature song, the power pop classic “Jessie’s Girl.” Springfield would go on to chart and screen ubiquity in the ‘80s before fading in the ‘90s and ‘00s, enjoying periodic career resurgences, but always maintaining a steady core of fans impressed by his dedication to his craft and to producing a killer live show.

Springfield proved to be an amiable on-stage presence, but even more so, he delivered the goods on a high-energy, fun night of rock. Even my 8-year-old, who barely knew Springfield from a few YouTube videos I’d played for him, loved the concert, and it’s hardly surprising. It was wildly entertaining.

Highlights included the high octane “Affair of the Heart,” “I’ve Done Everything For You” and “I Get Excited,” as well as the bubbly pop of “Bop Til You Drop” (a song I never especially liked as a radio hit but that gains a buoyant heft live) and “Celebrate Youth” and the poignant buzz of “State of the Heart,” one of Springfield’s more interesting and memorable hits.

Two of the funnest bits of the night were Springfield’s covers of Perry’s “Roar,” which had fans up on their feet, and Swift’s “Shake It Up,” which shocked fans into a standing ovation and got them singing along.

In all, it was a terrific set by an extremely underrated performer. Forget all the naysayers and the people who dub Springfield as a pretty boy and a one-hit-wonder. The guy can rock, he’s a great power pop performer and he puts on an incredibly fun live show. If you get the chance to see him, go. You can tell me I was right later.

As for Springfield’s  retro opening acts, they were met with mixed reviews.

Kicking off the show were The Romantics, who, despite only having really three hits to their name, provided a really fun gig due to their ‘50s style fiery retro rock. Full of energy and the pulsating beat of early rock, The Romantics got the crowd revved up with their hits “What I Like About You,” “One In A Million” and “Talking In Your Sleep.”

Middle of the bill act The Fixx didn’t quite have the same effect. I was actually really looking forward to seeing The Fixx, as it’s been a while since I had, and I always enjoyed their angular guitar attack and the odd vocal and lyrical stylings of singer Cy Curnin. But live, while tight and sounding solid, they just didn’t have the same energy as the other two acts. Most of the Fixx’s tracks are midtempo, which doesn’t exactly lend itself to the same anthemic response as some of the Springfield or Romantics tunes, and that lent the Fixx’s set something of a lethargic quality. They sounded great, no complaints there, but there was definitely a pressure drop between the two sets.

Regardless, it was a fun night, one that I enjoyed having remembered the songs from their heyday, and one that my son enjoyed as well, simply from the pure joy of getting to experience live music full of energy, huge hooks and a ton of volume. As he said as we were leaving the I wireless, “I really liked that last band! I loved the loud guitars and the really loud drums!”

Hey, I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we liked it.

sean and jackson at rick springfield

Springfield Rocks iWireless With Massively Entertaining Show
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
Springfield Rocks iWireless With Massively Entertaining Show

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