February 13, 2013
Arlington Music Hall
Arlington, TX USA
Review by David Huff
Photos by Chris Eason
Teen Sensation Hits the Stage
Someone asked me one time why I over the years, I never interviewed actors and only chose to concentrate on musicians. After a few seconds of thought, I simply said no one ever remembers the first movie they saw, but they never forget their first concert. Music, and the people who create it, stay with you forever. Actors aren't real. They just move on to play another part.
I was thinking about that statement as I watched Rick Springfield perform at the Arlington Music Hall before an overly excited crowd of screaming female fans. And no, I didn't feel out of place at all. This former Australian teen sensation is an outstanding artist. Back in the early '80s, when he exploded onto the pop culture scene in this country, this Aussie import was the hottest thing going on the planet. His ongoing day job as Dr. Noah Drake, on America's No. 1 soap opera at the time, General Hospital, had already endeared him to millions. The release of the single "Jessie's Girl" and its subsequent music video, pushed him into superstar status. To the actor / musician's credit, he not only could play a sexy, dreamy character on daytime television, he could ooze that same sex appeal on the concert stage as well.
In many respects, this 'working class dog' never received the just dues for his musical talents that his acting ability obviously did. Then again, his roles on Broadway, TV and film were always overshadowed by the character he created on General Hospital. It was a vicious cycle indeed, but tonight, none of that mattered. This packed house was there to celebrate the music of Rick Springfield. He more than lived up to the billing.
These days, Springfield has gone from smashing mirrors with his guitar to destroying bouquets of roses instead. Apparently this shtick began a few years ago. At one concert where the good doctor was performing, an overzealous fan was attempting to hand him some flowers. He politely told her the gesture was a bit distracting. She persisted. a ticked off Rick grabbed the flowers and proceeded to strum his guitar with the bouquet. A shower of rose petals blanketed the cheering crowd. It's been a part of his show ever since, and tonight was certainly no exception.
Though he was a bit under the weather tonight (apparently riding in the same plane with Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen is quite contagious), you would have never known it from the energetic performance he was giving. He had no problems walking out into this audience, surrounded by adoring fans, to perform the late Robert Johnson's infamous "Crossroads". Hell, he didn't have any problems period tonight.
Certainly this venue was a far cry from Springfield's glory years of the early '80s when he routinely sold out every venue he played in. I first saw him at the old Wintergarden Ballroom in August 1981. To this day, it's the only concert I ever attended where the screaming from the audience was so loud, it actually drowned out the music. That pandemonium was only the beginning. Springfield toured every single year through 1985. During that period he released four studio albums and a motion picture soundtrack. Though his tours sold out, and he sold millions of records, the grind on the good doctor eventually took a heavy toll on him. After the Tao tour in 1985 was over, Springfield disappeared. So did his career.
This evening, Rick Springfield's glory years were being brought back to life by the fans in the audience who most certainly were there when this musician was at his peak. And make no mistake, he's still an outstanding musician who deftly knows how to handle his guitar, no matter what kind of pick, or flower stem, he chooses to strum it with. I heard all the hits that made Rick a superstar back in the day. "Don't Talk to Strangers", "Affair of the Heart", "Love Somebody", "Human Touch", "Bop Til You Drop", "Living in Oz" and "I've Done Everything for You" brought back some great memories. So did the shrieks and screams the audience provided.
I really enjoyed my trip down memory lane this particular night. I recalled the interviews I did with Springfield during his glorious run. I laughed recalling the time in 1981, after interviewing Rick that afternoon and watching him perform that evening, walking out of my hotel room only to see Dr. Drake running for his life down the hallway. I motioned him into my room just before a mob of females came shrieking down the hallway. I remember looking at him, smiling, and then saying, "By the way, my mom loves General Hospital. Would you write 'Happy Birthday Pat' on this picture? I forgot to ask you this afternoon after the interview." I'll never forget the expression on Springfield's face before he burst out laughing. He signed the picture to my mother (which she still has 32 years later), and we talked for a few more minutes. I then checked the hallways and gave him the all clear sign so he could make to his room unscathed.
It's moments like that for me, and the cherished Rick Springfield memories the people in tonight's audience also held near and dear to their hearts, that brought them to the Arlington Music Hall. Many in attendance tonight, I'm sure, still longed to be 'Jessie's girl'. For two hours this evening, they were. As for myself, I preferred to think I was Jessie himself, holding Rick at bay all these many years later with the woman of his dream's still at my side. Yeah, sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree!