Northern Quest Casino, Spokane, Washington
Date: March 19, 2019
Notable Quote: “Wow. That song brought up a lot of shit for me.” — Rick Springfield
My quick 2 cents: Rick proves 69 is the new 49. He rocks the house with an energy and enthusiasm perfectly in tune with a setlist packed with hits, and his voice sounds as strong as ever. Go see him!
The full scoop: For just about anyone over the age of 30, singing the chorus of “Jessie’s Girl” conjures up impressions of a good-looking soap opera actor making it big with his 1981 bubble gum pop single, and that might be about it. But a ‘one hit wonder’ Rick Springfield is NOT. Nor is he an aging teen idol making a cash grab in his twilight years. In reality he is an incredibly talented and transparent artist eager to make a connection with his adoring fans.
Rick hit the stage rocking, kicking things off with “Light This Party Up” before belting out nearly 20 songs from his extensive catalog of chart-toppers, including “I’ve Done Everything for You,” “I Get Excited,” “Souls,” “Love Somebody,” and “Affair of the Heart.” He changed things up from time to time by throwing in a couple of captivating selections from his newest release, The Snake King (2018), a more bluesy album with dark undertones.
Not only was his voice strong and confident, but his still-youthful good looks and rollicking stage presence made me question again and again, “This guy is nearly 70???” He played to the crowd like the seasoned performer that he is; he had the them on their feet from lights up to lights down.
Insulated in the 1200-seat pavilion at Northern Quest Casino in Spokane, Washington, Rick seemed to pull the packed house even closer to him as he interspersed personal comments and stories with the music, not shying away from his brutal history with depression or his inspiring love affair with his wife of over 30 years.
About midway through, Rick wowed us with his guitar chops while his band receded into the shadows for a bit. He played a medley of riffs and solos showing off his talent and versatility as a serious player, and took time to honor the late surf guitar legend Dick Dale, who had passed away just days before. The effect? He unequivocally debunked any mistaken belief that he was just a pretty face from the 80s.
The highlight of the show was when Rick sat down on the edge of the stage and introduced a song he said he had never performed live before. “World Start Turning” is a deep cut off of his 1988 album Rock of Life, and he told the crowd that he was in a pretty dark place when he wrote it, and that the ‘miracle’ in the lyrics refers to the birth of his first son. After pouring out an energetic and heartfelt performance, he stood back from the mic and wiped at his eyes. We thought he was just sweaty until he actually buried his face in his hands for several seconds, and then said huskily, “Wow. That song brought up a lot of shit for me,” and we all realized he was crying. He wiped his eyes again and took a drink from his wine glass as the audience roared its sympathy and approval.
Later he sent a microphone passing through the audience so fans could join him in singing “Don’t Talk To Strangers.” And then not too long afterward, he himself came down off the stage, walking on the chairs through the sea of people, shaking hands, signing things, and crooning “we all need the human touch, and I need it, too,” with this ecstatic group of fans he clearly considered his friends.
Of course he could not end the night without playing “Jessie’s Girl,” and we all knew it, and still the place erupted when he reappeared for his encore and launched right into it. The footage below shows how full of exuberance he was even after almost two hours of giving himself out. Consider, too, that he’s been singing this song for close to four decades and he still looks like he’s having a ball. Rick is the consummate rocker, even after all these years. What a show!
(Thank you to Michelle Starry for sharing her concert clips on Youtube!)