Concert in the Round: Phoenix 8-21-18

RS-Celebrity Theatre

Something about last night’s Rick Springfield concert at the Celebrity Theatre was really special. Although I’ve seen RS live more than a dozen times (yesterday was #13), last night’s show had an incredible energy.

Maybe it was just me, after all it has been more than two years since I’ve seen a show in person, or maybe it was the venue, where the stage rotates in the middle of the audience, making it feel like a big party.

I feel like we saw a different side of RS and the band (literally, as there are times when the front of the stage set is facing the opposite direction and you get the rear view. One woman behind me commented on how shiny Jorge’s hair is. “I’d like to know what kind of hair products he uses,” she said. That likely never would have come up during a show on a typical stage.)

RS’s band performed with Tommy Tutone, the opening act, and Greg Kihn, who seemed so excited to be there. It was cool to hear his songs live, songs that I remember from MTV days in the 1980s, but I also liked his song, “The Life I Got,” which is from his new album, “Rekihndled,” his first album in 21 years.) Loverboy was the third set of this “Best in Show” lineup.

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A “backstage” view during the rotating stage show (during the Tommy Tutone set).

The RS band did a great job backing up Tommy Tutone and Greg Kihn. I’ve always appreciated how talented they all are, but this time I noticed them even more because during the times RS was facing the other side of the room, it was fun watching the other band members – guitarist George and drummer Jorge tossing drumsticks to each other and bassist Siggy jumping around the stage in his “Devil” hat (in the school colors of Arizona State University, whose mascot is the Sun Devil). I saw keyboardist (and guitarist) Tim give a high-five in the audience, too.

RS and Siggy really played the whole round stage thing so well, running around and climbing on amps. It looked like they were having so much fun.

This show was also the first time I heard any of “The Snake King” songs live – he played “Little Demon” and “Voodoo House.” I got a great video of the “Hey-ya Hey-ya yo”s, complete with the kicking of the stool (I’d be careful with that move, RS, it got a little too close to the edge of the stage and the woman in the front row did NOT look happy – she was directly in front of me, across the stage, and I saw the look on her face.) But I cut that part from my posted video because it also had some fan climbing on the stage appearing to collect rose petals and she ended up getting escorted out so I don’t want to embarrass her.

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In the Voodoo House. Hey-ya, hey-ya yo!

That portion of the song also contains my perceived eye contact moment – when he reaches his arm out to the audience and sings “Hey-ya, Hey ya yo!” I think I instinctively waved back, but felt silly afterward.

The “Don’t Talk to Strangers” bit was adorable – he is so cute with the kids on the stage (and he noted the irony that the song is called “Don’t Talk to Strangers” as mothers hand off their 3-year-old to a stranger.) The front of the stage was facing the other direction during that whole bit so I didn’t get any photos of it, but it was so cute.

During the medley portion of the show, he sang part of “Bruce,” which was the first time I’d heard it live so that was a treat. He also threw in “867-5309” because “everyone thinks it’s my song.” That was especially funny, of course, because we had sung the song along with the original songwriter earlier in the evening.

We also got to sing “Happy Birthday” to him and since this show is the last one before his actual Aug. 23 birthday, that felt special, too.

The BIG omission of the show was that there was no “Human Touch” – no mention of the song at all and no journey out into the audience. I’m not sure if it was the venue or the timing (at one point he mentioned that he’d be heading straight to the airport after the show and had to get up at 4 a.m. to film an episode of “The Goldbergs” the next morning), but it was weird to not have that song part of the show.

Here’s a compilation of some of my videos from the show:

Alas, there was also no personal RS encounter for me this time around. I saw a group with Backstage Pass lanyards gathered by the downstairs bar and looked for an opening, but came up with nothing. I resorted to asking someone at the radio station display if they were giving out any meet & greets that evening and she kindly responded, “No, I think we’re all out,” but the look in her eyes was, “You’re kidding, right?”

I had parked in the back part of the parking lot and saw the band (with Jorge and his long, shiny ponytail) walking toward a white van as I walked to my white (mini)van, but my favorite rock star was nowhere in sight. I waited a few minutes longer just in case (there were a few people hanging around), but it soon cleared out so I headed home.

Here are more pics:

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Rick Springfield’s band backing up Tommy Tutone. “867-5309”

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Side view of the rotating stage

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The opposite side view of the rotating stage

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Facing the front of the stage, with a zoom from the ninth row.

 

 

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Rick Springfield is in my state!

OK, I know this may sound a bit ridiculous coming from somebody who is nearly 50 years old, but RICK SPRINGFIELD IS IN MY STATE! WHOO-HOO!

Tonight he performs in Tucson and I’m in Phoenix, but we’re in the same state! He’s actually been here since yesterday, according to his Instagram post yesterday. In fact he’s posted a few pics these past couple of days. It’s fun to see the goofy, tourist side of him.

He’ll be in Phoenix on Tuesday night – that means FOUR days in my state. That’s a long time for someone who is always running around the country on tour. Will he be in Tucson Monday on his day off or in Phoenix? Should I be running around to visit all the Starbucks in the area on Monday and Tuesday hoping for a glimpse?

(I’m only joking, I hope you know. In reality I’ll be shlepping kids to and from school and going to work. But it’s still fun to think about.)

His Tuesday night show is at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, which is a cool intimate venue where the stage is in the middle and turns around during the show. The last time I saw him there was in 1999. Tommy Tutone will be opening (my 8-year-old was just singing 867-5309 this afternoon, coincidentally.) I remember Greg Kihn songs and videos from MTV and they were always a lot of fun to sing along with and Loverboy of course has some great tunes, too. Should be a fun evening!

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Here’s the inside of the Celebrity Theatre (Pic courtesy of Celebrity Theatre)

I’m not quite as close to the stage as I have been in the past, but my ticket is in the ninth row. Definitely a potential Human Touch Zone if he gets off the stage in the right place. I wonder if the spinning stage makes performers dizzy?

‘The Birthday King’ to raise funds for dogs

This year’s Rick Springfield Birthday Campaign kicks off today! For details, visit: happybirthdayrick.com.

“The Birthday King” campaign runs today through Sept. 23, 2018 and all funds go toward the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation.

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This year’s logo

This is the 11th year of the campaign, which has raised more than $100,000 since 2007. Learn more about the campaign’s history here. Last year’s campaign, for RS’s 68th birthday, raised $17,068.68. Learn how to donate here.

The grand prize is “The Backstage Extravaganza.” Not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds exciting! Each $5 donation gets one entry for the prize drawings. Math isn’t my strong suit so check here for all the details about the prize drawing. The prizes aren’t listed yet – besides the (cue extravagant music here) “The Backstage Extravaganza.”

Thank you, RS Birthday Campaign project team and all the fans who are donating prizes!

Side note: Did I mention that Rick Springfield will be a few miles away from where I am right now in SIX days?! Fourteen minutes away. 11.2 miles. I couldn’t resist buying a ticket even though I couldn’t find anyone willing to spend the money to go with me (when you’ve seen your favorite rock star six times in less than four years, sometimes you run out of concert-going buddies to go with if they don’t feel the same way.) But my birthday was last week so this is my birthday present to myself!

After concert cancellation, Rick Springfield performs in hotel bar

After last night’s Rick Springfield/Pat Benetar& Neil Giraldo concert was cancelled at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City a few minutes before the show was to start – due to a “technical issue” – guess who turned up playing in the casino bar?

I’m sure the  concert’s cancellation was a super bummer for fans who were planning on attending the concert, especially those who traveled far to see him, but hopefully many of them were there to see him perform “Superstitious” with Johnny-O and the Classic Dogs of Love  or hang out in the casino with him for a bit.

Apparently Rascal Flatts was playing in a different venue in the hotel that same night, but I haven’t heard anything about RS going in to play “Down” with the band. (He co-wrote that Rocket Science song with Jay DeMarcus, the bassist of Rascall Flatts.)

I’m so glad it’s Friday, as it’s been a long week and my mind is playing tricks on me. How many RS references do you find in this very brief blog post?

Just for fun, here’s what I noticed:

  1. He was going to co-headline the concert with Pat Benetar & Neil Giraldo. Neil Giraldo played guitar on the song “Jessie’s Girl” off of the Working Class Dog album.
  2. There are two references in the name of the band he played with: “Johnny” (“Me & Johnny” off of Living in Oz) and “dogs of love”- well, RS loves dogs.
  3. “Superstitious – somebody recently posted a video of him playing that song during one of the new meet & greets.
  4. As I mentioned above, he co-wrote one of the songs of Rocket Science with one of the guys in the band who was also playing a concert that same night in that same hotel.
  5. The hotel with the “technical issue” (rumor is that it was a problem with the ceiling) is Atlantic City’s newest hotel – and it used to be the Trump Taj Mahal. Not really a RS connection there, I guess, but I thought it was interesting. Maybe there’s a Snake King connection there somewhere.

Here’s a video from earlier in the day that somebody posted on YouTube, of him singing “Under the Milky Way.”

 

Before I go, here’s a fun interview that came out yesterday: “Rick Springfield talks blues, books and Saturday morning cartoons,” on nuvo.net. He covers a lot here, including what he’s doing with his Star Wars collection and what event he might considering showing up to in disguise.

Have a great weekend!

Farewell to soundcheck access

It used to be that Rick Springfield fans could purchase a soundcheck package where they could sit in during the band’s soundcheck session and then afterward they could briefly meet him for autographs, pictures and a chance to share any personal thoughts about the impact that he’s had on their life.

This past week, the Rick Springfield Official Merchandise site announced that effective immediately, that option was being changed to a VIP Backstage Experience, which is described on the site as:

About an hour before Rick hits the stage, you will be escorted backstage by our VIP Host to a private room where Rick will perform a song, and you’ll catch a rare and personal side of him as he engages the few fans in attendance. You will be able to meet Rick, get a few autographs and a photo taken during this time. You also have the option of adding a guitar to this package.

The cost of this experience is $349.99, $724.99 with the guitar. There’s also a VIP Collector’s Edition Guitar Package for $2,499.99, which is described as this:

This is your chance to take home the very guitar that Rick plays on stage during the iconic song, Jessie’s Girl. This limited edition guitar features the artwork from the album that started it all: Working Class Dog. Rick will sign, date and label the guitar by city, making this is truly a one of a kind collector’s piece. Oh yeah, and it may be a little sweaty.

After the show, you and two of your friends will have the opportunity to meet Rick in his backstage dressing room. He’ll personally present the guitar to you, and you’ll have the opportunity for a bit of a chat, and of course, photos and autographs. It’s going to be a night you’ll remember for a very long time.

Only one guitar is sold per show, and there’s only so many shows in a tour! Hurry to secure your collector’s edition Working Class Dog guitar.

Don’t get me wrong, these experiences sound great, too, although the idea of sitting in on a soundcheck sounded really cool because it’s a little glimpse into what musicians do to prepare for a show. (Many years ago I was able to listen to a soundcheck for Sting and although I was standing up in the stands at the empty amphitheater and not up close, it was still a cool experience. To be able to do that standing right there with my favorite rock star on stage would have been incredible.)

But alas, it looks like that opportunity is gone. I’m grateful to the fans who have shared videos of the soundcheck experience in the past so I have an idea of what it was like.

You know what would be really cool? How about some “exclusive contests” for meet & greet opportunities through the RS fan club? (Hint, hint to the powers that be.)

RS is very generous with his time for his fans so I’m glad that he’s continuing these meet & greet and opportunities, even with these changes and although they are still out of my budget. I’m hoping that he’ll be doing some book tours with his next book since I missed out on those. (When I “rediscovered” him back in 2014, it was three months after his visit to an Arizona bookstore after the release of “Magnificent Vibration.”)

In other Rick Springfield news, here’s a recent video from Vintage Guitar where RS talks about his guitars (and alien-fighting capabilities) inside his studio:

Here’s another recent interview:

A recent article on newscentermaine.com mentions the second novel and also that he’s working on an album of his songs played with a symphony. That sounds cool (and wouldn’t it be cool to see that on DVD, too, like the “Stripped Down” set?)

His summer tour will bring him about 15 minutes from my house in August so I hope to catch that show since I didn’t make it to any shows last year. He has more than 20 shows between now and then, including symphony shows in Columbus, Ohio; Nashville; San Diego; and Park City, Utah. Such a busy guy!

Suited for the symphony

I know what I’m about to say is going to sound ridiculous, but after watching some of the videos people posted tonight from Rick Springfield performing with the Oregon Symphony, I feel like I am about to burst with pride.

I’m writing this with tears streaming down my face, especially after watching the video of “My Father’s Chair.” Watching RS perform that with a symphony orchestra and then seeing him turn around and face the photo of his father showing on the screen on the back of the stage…. wow.

After hearing about what he went through last year and all the dark emotions and feelings that came out in “The Snake King,” it was incredible to see him performing all of those songs with his band and the symphony and looking like he was enjoying himself so much. I couldn’t help but think that if he had succumbed to his darkness last year that none of this would have happened or the cruise or… anything else.

So although I’m just one of thousands of RS fans sitting on the sidelines and observing the past four years of his life through my smartphone and computer screen, I just want to shout out “I’m so proud of you, RS! Way to go!”

He also performed one of my favorite RS songs from the 1980s: “Souls” (thanks to rsandus for posting these videos!)

Another classic:

From the newest CD, “The Snake King”:

And also this Beatles song:

Karma release: 19 years ago today

Since it’s now after midnight, it’s now April 13, which means its been 19 years since the “Karma” release date (which means that 19 years ago today I met RS for the first time).

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This is what I wrote in my journal that day:

When it was my turn, I told him how it was great to meet him. I’ve been a fan for a long time. He said he could tell (I brought “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” to sign). I said I’ve been a fan for 25 years. Then I said, I mean 18 and he said, “It’ll be 25 before you know it.”

Well, he was right and now it’s been 37 years. So maybe that’s why I was a little emotional tonight – he’s been a huge part of my life for so many years (although there were gaps of time I lost track of his career) and tonight’s performance felt like another important milestone for him. Plus he was wearing a suit, like he used to in the 1980s, so it may have also been a weird, subconscious reaction to that.

Going through concert withdrawals

It’s been about 14 months since I was at a Rick Springfield concert and I think I’m going through some withdrawal symptoms because I had a dream about him last night.

I was at some kind of event and he was at the other end of a really long table playing a song. When he got up to leave, I got up to follow him to see if I could say hello but he was walking away really quickly. When he was playing, he was his current self, but when he was rushing out of the room, he looked like his 1980s self.

I’m not sure how to interpret that, but it did make me realize how long it’s been since I’ve had any interaction with my favorite rock star. Just two days ago it was the three-year anniversary of when I met him outside the Fox Theatre venue in Tucson after a Stripped Down show. (I wrote about that here and here.)

At the last show I was at – in July 2016 – I took a selfie with him after the show, but it happened so quickly that it almost seems like it didn’t happen at all.

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View from the end of the stage in July 2016.

However, although it’s been so long since I was at a show, he’s often on my mind. I’m at a current point in my life right now where the life experiences he’s shared are a huge source of inspiration. Maybe it’s my own version of a mid-life crisis, but I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to make a big change, but I’m not sure yet what it is. Last year I made some big decisions in my professional life that I’m still adjusting to, and in the overall scheme of things, things are good, but there’s something eating away at me. Like there’s a choice I should have made or something I should be doing, but I’m not sure what.

Meanwhile I’m just writing and writing (not as much for this blog, but for my own blog and articles and songs) and making progress, but not sure where it’s all going. RS’s advice he’s shared in interviews to “never give up, never give up, never give up” keeps echoing in my mind.

There was recently an announcement that RS will be honored this month by Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services for his candidness in talking about depression. He will receive the 2018 Beatrice Stern Media Award on April 26 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills. (An article was in the Morning Sun earlier this week.) Congratulations on this well-deserved honor, RS, thanks for sharing so much with your fans.

As usual, RS is keeping busy. According to his tour schedule, he’s had some time off since the 1980s cruise, except for one show in Florida right after the cruise, so hopefully he’s enjoying some down time with his family and friends. He was quoted in The Epoch Times after seeing a “Shun Yen” performance in Thousand Oaks last night ( those who were concerned with his spiritual side after listening to “The Snake King” might be interested in reading this article.) And tomorrow night he’ll be in Portland performing with the Oregon Symphony. Other April shows will be in Florida then California. (Check out his upcoming shows on rickspringfield.com.)

Since I don’t have any shows on the horizon, I recently amused myself with a page from the Rick Springfield and Us website: Concert Cliff Notes, which goes into great detail (with photos) of the different elements of a Rick Springfield concert, from rose explosions and signature moves to signs fans bring to the show and categories such as “shirtless” “memory lane” and “guitar throws.” Not quite the same as a show, but fun nonetheless.

On the ’80s cruise

What an incredible ’80s cruise! Rick Springfield as the host and a long list of performers, such as Thomas Dolby, Loverboy, Mike+ The Mechanics, Lou Gramm from Foreigner, Terri Nunn from Berlin, Billy Ocean and Tommy Tutone.

I wasn’t actually on the cruise, but I enjoyed it vicariously through videos of those who were there. Many RS fans were on the cruise and shared videos in Facebook fan groups and the fabulous Shantelle Bisson her husband Yannik (former co-star of “High Tide” with RS and star of Canada’s “Murdoch Mysteries”) both shared some great behind-the-scenes videos on Instagram (along with some beside-the-scene views, such as clips of RS concerts from the side of the stage.)

The fact that I was able to watch videos taken by people I don’t know who were in the middle of the ocean is pretty incredible. It’s another one of those things that my 13-year-old self would have been thrilled about back in the 1980s. Back then being a RS fan meant taking babysitting gigs so I could watch MTV and possibly see a RS video or interview (we didn’t have cable at home.) Or I’d walk to the neighborhood Revco drug store to see if the latest issue of Teen Beat, Tiger Beat or 16 magazine was out. (For other examples, see “Rick Springfield fandom in the 1980s vs. today.“)

But sitting home watching a video of my favorite rock star performing on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean the same night it was happening? No way, not in my wildest dreams.

Some of the highlights of the cruise (from my limited view 2,400 miles away) were:

  • The piano bar when RS and Thomas Dolby were playing The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”
  • The Mark Goodman and RS Q&A session
  • Videos of the band hanging out singing in one of the cabins
  • RS singing “Waiting for a Girl Like You” (watching that brought out my inner teen giddiness, for sure)
  • Watching RS perform so many great songs with all those other talented performers and seeing him have such a great time

I’m sure there were many more highlights from people who were actually there so check out the Facebook fan pages. If I can find any videos to share from YouTube, I’ll post at a later date.

Next year’s lineup looks fun, too, especially the English Beat. I was a big fan in high school and I saw them once in this little bar in Tempe where I danced on the same dance floor as Dave Wakeling. But this year’s cruise, with Rick Springfield as host, would be hard to beat.

I love the 80s

Back to the ’80s

Oh, how I wish I was in Florida preparing to embark on a trip back to that totally tubular time of the 1980s. Yes, the ’80s cruise that we heard about last year starts this weekend, with none other than Rick Springfield as its captain. Or host. Let’s go with captain, he seems to like that:

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I never started playing the lottery so I never won and therefore am not going on the cruise, but hopefully some of the lucky fans who are will share some videos.

Tonight RS is performing in Florida and then the ship sets sail on Saturday. Sometimes I feel like I know WAY too much about RS’s life. My brain can only hold so much information and I wonder sometimes if I didn’t know so much RS trivia maybe I’d remember more of my passwords and not have to reset them so often.

There weren’t as many passwords to remember back in the 1980s. In fact, so many things have changed since then. My childhood mall is being redeveloped into an office complex. Toys R Us is closing all its stores. I feel like I’ve reached that age where I spend too much time explaining to my kids how things used to be and talking about things that no longer exist. Although the details are different, it’s a reiteration of my dad’s story about being one of the first families on his block to get a color TV.

Today as we prepared to set out for school drop-off, my car didn’t start. The AAA guy checked the battery, but that was fine, it’s likely my starter. (’80s note: My very first 45 record was “Start Me Up!” by the Rolling Stones). I ended up having to drive my husband to work and passed the Arizona State Fairgrounds where two of my kids sang “Don’t Talk to Strangers” with RS a couple of years ago. (Another ’80s reference, in case you didn’t get it.)

For some reason, today when people call me on my cell phone, I can’t hear them and they can’t hear me. To paraphrase Blondie, “Call me, call me any, anytime” but I won’t be able to hear you.

Despite all these ’80s references, the song that kept going through my head today was “It’s Always Something.”

For that reason, it sounds so fun to get way from all of this and go out on a big boat dedicated to the 1980s and all that great music.

To everyone who is going – have an awesome time. Totally. For sure.

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My bedroom wall in the 1980s.