The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




4TH JUNE 2013




Wide Awake | I've Done Everything for You | Living in Oz | Celebrate Youth | Our Ship's Sinking | Affair of the Heart | I Hate Myself | Rock of Life | Love Somebody

Medley: Bop Till You Drop/Calling All Girls/Don't Walk Away/State Of The Heart/What Kind Of Fool Am I?

Love Is Alright Tonite | Don't Talk to Strangers | Cross Road Blues (Robert Johnson cover) | Human Touch | Jessie's Girl

Encore: All My Loving (Beatles cover) | Happy



I first heard Rick Springfield one Saturday morning on TV in the UK - the song wasn't what you might expect, not the ubiquitous 'Jessie's Girl', but a new song 'Human Touch' from the soon to be released 'Living in Oz' album. I was immediately hooked to the point that I went out and bought my first leather jacket to mimic the one Rick wore on the sleeve, and of course I pieced together the back-catalogue, not just the RCA releases but also the earlier ‘Comic Book Heroes’, ‘Wait For Night’ and the Australian only ‘Mission Magic!’ from his cartoon series. It was 1983.



In the intervening years I have almost managed to see Rick on a number of occasions but something always managed to get in the way. I still kept buying the albums and last years ‘Songs for the End of the World’ is one of his best. So on his way to the European Festvials (this year playing both Sweden Rock and Hi-Rock in Germany) Rick managed to slot in a single London date.



30 years later at Shepherd’s Bush Empire I finally get to see him, and even shake his sweaty hand.



It’s hard to know exactly what to expect after so many years, but tonight’s one-off show in London was far more than you could hope for, even after waiting so long. We were genuinely excited in the build-up, trading song titles he simply had to play by the bar. The rest of the crowd was just as pumped, largely ignoring the support band, and many had travelled from overseas and from the far reaches of the UK to see a rare London show.



And from the moment Rick took the stage and launched into latest album opener ‘Wide Awake’ he had us transfixed. As a stage performer Springfield has just about everything, still holding onto those boyish looks and trademark hair, he looks every inch a rock star, but there’s more than that he also has an energy and an intensity that don’t quite expect. In short he plays like he loves it like nothing else.



‘I've Done Everything for You’ the Sammy Hagar song he made famous really kick-starts things before getting a rousing romp through the catalogue. Springfield like a man on hot coals runs the stage, throwing shapes and changing guitars after every song throwing the outgoing instrument to a roadie with safe hands in the wings. This is everything a Rick Springfield show should be; with a bunch of roses flailed across the stage between breaths till the petals fill the air.



‘Living in Oz’ of course for me is an absolute highlight but the most impressive thing is how new numbers like three chord rocker ‘I Hate Myself’ which gets the crowd involved and the anthemic ‘Our Ship's Sinking’, both from the new release, sit so comfortably alongside perennial favourites like the lower key and quite sublime ‘Affair of the Heart’ and the up-tempo ‘Love Somebody’. Rick introduces the latter by asking how many of us saw ‘Star Wars’; ‘Jaws’ or ‘Close Encounters’ or that other monster of the times ‘Hard to Hold’ (The film designed for Rick to take him to mega-stardom released of course a good few years later, but whose being picky when Rick is being self-depreciating?



The mid part of the set is taken up with a medley of hits sadly including our mate’s favourite ‘State of the Heart’ and one of mine ‘What Kind of Fool am I’ and while we’d of course love to hear the full versions there are only so many minutes even in a rare London appearance. There’s even a teasing snatch of Jessie’s Girl buried in the midst of ‘Don’t Walk Away’.



By the time the band strikes up ‘Love Is Alright Tonite’ we’re back to full songs and tales of Rick’s first encounter with a guitar at twelve years of age and his childhood in England. ‘Don’t talk to Strangers’ raises smiles all around when Rick hands the mic to various members of the crowd and can’t manage to find a single one who can hold a note!



One of the biggest surprises of the night though is a cover of Robert Johnson’s ‘Cross Road Blues’ where Rick shows us what a really fine and rich blues voice he has as well as what a great blues guitarist he might have been. For me though it all gets crazy when Rick jumps down into the crowd for ‘Human Touch’: a song he sings while walking through us, seconds later Mr Springfield is heading directly at me and with his arm reached out we shake hands and I feel like a young girl at a Beatles concert for just a second before he’s gone and upstairs into the balcony.



‘Jessie's Girl’ of course is the only way to close the set proper and the song that’s seen a million cover versions by every pub band out there seems so much bigger and better tonight. And with a goodbye Rick and the band depart the stage.  It’s been a night to remember and one that isn’t quite over as the band return to an encore of The Beatles’ ‘All My Loving’ and The Easybeats’ ‘I’ll Make You Happy’ with its distinctive crunching riff, it’s a great way to end and not many in the crowd realise it’s a cover.



Tonight has far exceeded expectations; thirty years on I’m still a fan. I can’t even just about forgive the fact that ‘Alyson’ didn’t make the setlist. Here’s to next time!




by Mark Diggins