‘Working Class Dog’ in Phoenix

Last night I attended my first Rick Springfield concert since the pandemic began, at Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix.

It was a little bit surreal, like the past 2 1/2 years was a bad dream because how could it be that this type of communal gathering ceased to exist for so long? RS was in full rock-star mode and it was a celebration from the moment the first note played, as RS and the band rocked that revolving stage like no other.

I hadn’t splurged on tickets in the first few rows this time because just days before the show was announced, I had splurged on last-minute Billie Eilish tickets at a local stadium. That particular splurge meant two tickets (one for me and one for my oldest son) way up in the nosebleed section and since each far-away ticket was about the cost of one front-row ticket for RS, I wasn’t able to do that again a few days later. But, I thought, that was OK, it would be enough just being at the concert since it had been so long since I saw him in concert (June 2019). (In case you were wondering, the Billie Eilish show was amazing, even so far from the stage.)

Of course, once I got to Celebrity Theatre last night, I wished I had splurged because although our seats were fine (it’s a fairly small venue), it was a whole different experience from the previous shows when I was near the stage.

It was my husband’s first RS show in awhile – he was at a show years ago with two of our sons (when they sang “Don’t Talk to Strangers” with him), a Stripped Down show in Tucson (when we briefly met RS after the show) and on an overnight in Sahuarita, Ariz., when I kind of left him back in our seats when I found an unoccupied spot by the stage (and we stayed at the same hotel as RS and the band). So he was a good sport to go with me again and he had a great time and was so impressed by how RS and the band rocked from the second the show started.

Display in the Celebrity Theatre’s downstairs lounge

Although it felt more like I was watching the show from afar this time around, I was overwhelmed by a strong sense of gratitude to even be there at all and appreciated all the aspects, from the rose explosions to the lighting and sound. During the pandemic, I wondered if the opportunity would ever return. And yet there they were, RS and all of the band members, surrounded by other fans as excited to be there as I was.

A couple of my favorite moments were hearing “World Start Turning” and being able to sing “Happy Birthday” to him again. In 2018, I was in the very same theater two days before his real birthday (Aug. 23) and it struck me how much the world has changed since we were “together” in that space last. He mentioned how he just finished filming “Gonzo Girl,” a movie with Patricia Arquette and William Dafoe. (During the 2018 concert, he told us that he was going to film an episode of “The Goldbergs” TV show the next day, if that puts things in perspective for anyone.)

RS played third, after John Waite and Men at Work, so the encore came after 11 p.m. I probably shouldn’t confess this here, but since it was a school night/work night, I decided last minute that we should leave during “Jessie’s Girl” because I’ve heard it a gazillion times, saw him perform it live lots of times and remembered that getting out of the parking lot after the Billie Eilish concert took nearly an hour. Plus I knew there was no chance of possibly “running into” RS after the show (although I did briefly run into drummer Jorge in the audience before the Men at Work set) because it was so late. So, ignoring the impulse to stick around for a slim possibility to meet him again (like I did back in 2016 when I was able to get selfie with him before he climbed onto the bus and rode off into the night), we headed out the no-re-entry doors to the parking lot across the street as the pre-Jessie’s Girl video began and were home about 20 minutes later.

Of course it was my loss because, as I learned this morning after the fabulous Rick and the News Flash Facebook fan page posted a beautiful video of that very performance, he returned to the stage shirtless. So even though I missed seeing it live, I was relieved I still got to experience the full concert (and had a better view of the encore then I would have if I stayed in my seat).

When I woke up this morning, I felt a sense of calm. Although last night was another missed opportunity of meeting RS and possibly putting the words together to tell him the impact he’s made on my life, I thought about the dream I had before waking up.

In the dream, I was in a dining room of a house with RS and my husband and a few other people. RS mentioned to the people in the room that I was married to both him and my husband. Even in the dream I felt a little unsure how this would work (both logistically and morally), but was thrilled that he would even say this. I offered to make him tea and he chose a pack of tea leaves from a big colorful box with a brown kangaroo on it. I wasn’t sure how to use his fancy tea infuser so he showed me and I made a cup of tea for both him and my (real-life) husband.

Weird, I know, and I have no idea what that could mean, but as I said, being able to have that encounter with him even only in my dream made me feel peaceful.

Anyway, RS and the band are off for a few more shows of this Working Class Dog tour and then once that’s over, perhaps we’ll hear more about the album he’s been working on!! To all the RS fans headed to upcoming shows – have fun!

Update on Aug. 31
I thought I’d share a video from the Aug. 29 show that I found on YouTube since I initially posted this. Thank you for sharing, you had a much better view than I had!

Time for the living room jam

Although I purchased the 40th anniversary CD/DVD set of “Working Class Dog” when it initially came out in June, I finally got around to watching the DVD of RS and the band performing the album in his living room. Not because I didn’t want to earlier, but because none of our devices have disk drives anymore and we don’t have a DVD player set up so I needed some technical assistance to make it happen.

Now that we’re just about to get started on a really busy time because school has started, I decided today’s the day. I had to watch it in the office/recording studio because that’s where the XBox is and that’s the only device that we have left that plays DVDs.

The XBox setting on the TV is what I use when I use the TV as a monitor for my Mac-Mini when I record my songs. So before I started watching, I needed to find the remote for the TV and the small remote for the device that switches the TV connection between the Mac-Mini and the XBox.

Next I took out the Plants vs. Zombies DVD that was in the XBox, inserted the “Working Class Dog” DVD and was ready for an afternoon living room concert.

However, nothing happened when I used the remote to hit play and learned that I actually needed the XBox controller to watch it. Ugh! Where is the XBox controller?! My 12-year-old said he had one in his room and benevolently ran to his room to retrieve it and even plugged the USB into the console for me. Finally, three remotes and an XBox controller later, I was ready to watch it!

All that rambling is a way to explain that it was well worth the effort.

Random thoughts while watching:

This film really captures the time period so well – with RS and the band members greeting each other after not seeing each other for 13 months due to the pandemic. You really get a sense that in addition to enjoying playing music together, they also genuinely enjoy spending time together.

Since it was filmed in his home, you get to see parts of his house, which was cool.

There were shots of his wife, Barbara, watching the band play, which were really sweet. Especially when you think of their history together – that she was actually working at Studio City when he originally recorded the album there, before they started dating.

The DVD not only shows RS and the band performing “Working Class Dog” in the order the songs appear on the album, there are also shots showing conversations with RS and band members and some interview clips of RS (including one where RS says this is the first time he’s played all the songs from the album since 1981 when he recorded it.)

The band also had a toast before playing “I’ve Done Everything For You,” so he was able to get a product placement in for Beach Bar Rum (the company he owns with Sammy Hagar, who wrote that song). (The toast was “To dogs,” which I’m sure my dogs appreciated, as they were in the room with me while I watched it.)

Kudos to the band for doing such a great job learning and playing all the songs and to RS for remembering all of them after so many years {since he hadn’t played so many of them for decades) and for sounding so good!! The singers sounded great, too.

While I have heard some of the songs live in past concerts, there were some I hadn’t heard before and it was especially cool to hear “Red, Hot and Blue Love.” The performance of “Inside Sylvia” was beautiful, too. (I had heard it live in the solo acoustic show, but that was on a guitar app so it had a different feel.)

RS and the band looked like they were having so much fun performing together – as they do in the live shows. Also included were performances of hits after “Working Class Dog,” too, which are typically included in live shows.

Watching it is also a reminder of the time lost after everything shut down and that feeling of not knowing how long it would last. The last show they played together before filming this was March 7, 2020 (coincidentally exactly 5 years – to the day- after I met him during a meet-and-greet after a concert, which was the first time I had seen him after a 15-year hiatus.) The WCD concert was filmed in RS’s living room in April 2021.

It’s such a relief to know that we are all able to come together again at concerts and it makes me even more excited to see them live in concert later this month!