Rick Springfield, Loverboy, & The Romantics Rock NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 9-16-15

Rick Springfield, Loverboy, & The Romantics Rock NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 9-16-15

Rick Springfield may be better known for his acting than he is for his music. Though the singer-songwriter has made a mark on the music industry with the 1982 number 1 hit “Jessie’s Girl,” for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, he is known to many for his portrayal of Dr. Noah Drake on the ABC daytime drama General Hospital and most recently as a creepy surgeon in the HBO TV series True Detective. Springfield has also had featured roles in numerous films including 2015’s Ricki And The Flash, in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep. In many ways his acting career has overshadowed his musical career, but far from a one-hit wonder, Springfield has also reached the Top 10 of the Billboard charts with “I’ve Done Everything for You” (a cover of the Sammy Hagar song), “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” “Affair of the Heart,” and “Love Somebody.”

Detroit, Michigan’s The Romantics came together in 1976. The group’s music is equal parts Garage Rock, British Invasion, and 1950s/1960s Rock-n-Roll. The band’s original line-up consisted of lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Wally Palmer, Mike Skill on lead guitar, bassist Rich Cole, and Jimmy Marinos on drums. The single from the band’s eponymously titled debut album, “What I Like About You,” reached the Top 50 on the U.S. charts, number 12 in the Netherlands, and number 2 in Australia. 1983’s In Heat LP (Nemperor Records) was certified gold by the R.I.A.A. for sales of over 500,000 copies and yielded the hit single “Talking In Your Sleep,” which reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Through the years the Romantics have continued to tour and release CDs. The band is currently comprised of Palmer, Skill, Cole and drummer Brad Elvis.

Loverboy is a Canadian rock group formed in 1979 in Calgary, Alberta. Known for its classic/arena rock hits “Working For The Weekend,” “Turn Me Loose,” “The Kid Is Hot Tonite,” “Hot Girls in Love,” “Queen of the Broken Hearts,” and “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” Loverboy has earned four multi-platinum albums and numerous Juno Awards (Canada’s highest award for music). Over the years, Loverboy has performed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The band, which features founding members Mike Reno on lead vocals; Paul Dean on guitars and vocals; keyboardist Doug Johnson; drummer Matt Frenette; and bassist Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve (who replaced the late original member Scott Smith), continues to record and tour regularly. 

On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, Rick Springfield’s Late Summer/Early Fall Tour, supported by the Romantics and Loverboy, reached Westbury, Long Island and the NYCB Theatre. The crowd buzzing around the small venue could be categorized by a few neat generalizations: late baby-boomer women who fell in love with Dr. Noah Drake and then Springfield’s music, their husbands who were dragged to the show, Loverboy fans, The Romantics fans, and fans of 1980’s Rock, Pop, and New Wave. All were there to party like it was 1982. Well, most were. Prior to the first group’s set, some of the husbands dragged to the show were seen looking at their watches and cellphones, seemingly counting the minutes until Springfield finished his performance.

These apparently unhappy spouses, as well as the rest of the audience members who had already found their seats, were energized and (some were) pleasantly surprised by the ferocious wall of sound put forth by The Romantics. Originally scheduled to play at NYCB Theatre in late August of 2014 with The Smithereens, Marshall Crenshaw, and Tommy Tutone, Long Islanders finally had their chance to see The Romantics a year after the previous cancellation.

Opening the short set with a high-energy version of “Rock You Up,” the band also performed fan favorites “Talking In Your Sleep,” and “What I Like About You” as well as a cover of the Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” By the end of the four piece band’s short six song set, the audience was on its feet and begging for more.

The evening really got into the swing of things when Loverboy took the stage, and their strong set began on a high note with “Notorious” from 1987’s Wildside. The band was at the absolute top of its game, playing with passion while lead singer Mike Reno’s vocals were spot-on. 

Prior to “Queen Of The Broken Hearts,” Reno egged-on the crowd when he asked, “How many people out there love ’80s music? How many wanna hear ’80s music? You’re gonna remember this one from MTV!” When the first notes of the synthesizer-driven song were sounded, the cheers and whistles from the audience reached a decibel level that can normally only be reached though amplification. As the song reached its dance-pop portion, the crowd jumped to its feet and bopped along with the band.

The band closed with the hits “The Kid is Hot Tonite,” “Lovin’ Every Minute of It,” “Hot Girls In Love,” and “Turn Me Loose.” Prior to its ending number, Reno announced that “We gotta say good night, but not before a little cowbell. Give it to them.” With that, Frenette sounded the cowbell opening of “Working For The Weekend,” and all hell broke loose. The crowd danced in the aisles. Audience members rose to their feet and fist-pumped along with the beat and, during the song, the Romantics drummer, Brad Elvis was seen at the back of the auditorium dancing with his friends. Loverboy left the stage to a standing ovation.

As the roadies readied the stage for Rick Springfield and his band, it was amusing and somewhat sad to see how many audience members tried to convince security to let them behind the curtain that led to the backstage area of the small arena, on this evening configured in the half round, which actually offers-up three-quarters of its seating capacity. A seating section at the back of the stage was curtained-off, allowing for the large video monitor to be set-up behind the bands and the musicians to make a rear entrance onto the stage.

After the short break, the venue’s video screens came to life, signaling that Rick Springfield would soon appear. With the forty-something aged female members of the audience screaming and screeching at the top of their lungs, those unaware of the circumstances might have mistaken it for a One Direction concert being held in 2045. The middle-aged women were delirious, shouting their love for the singer/actor as a self-indulgent five minute video clip was played. The video did nothing more than pat Springfield on the back, mostly for his acting and occasionally for his singing. It did, however, succeed in riling up the audience.

He put the pedal to the metal and rocked fast from the get-go, opening with a new song, “Light This Party Up,” from his soon-to-be-released album. He followed with “I’ve Done Everything For You,” which was played at a frenetic speed. As the show unfolded, Springfield mixed-in new songs Like “Down,” from his Rocket Science CD, which he said would be released in January 2016, along with hits that included “I Get Excited,” “Affair of the Heart,” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers.”

The singer also performed an interesting version of Katy Perry’s “Roar” and a few other older covers that appealed to his multi-generational fan-base. Multi-generational is an understatement. Springfield’s audience was comprised of love-struck teens, a few twenty-somethings and thirty-somethings, and the original twenty and thirty-something fans who have aged into their 50s and 60s. These fans went through the roof when, during “Human Touch,” the toned and fit singer jumped off the stage and ventured into the crowd. He climbed his way around barriers, across chairs, through aisles, and over fans, all the while singing and shaking hands. 

The set seemed to be somewhat calculated and almost pandering to certain members of the audience. During “Jessie’s Girl” and the finale, “Kristina,” Springfield mugged and posed numerous times for the audience members, who seemed more interested in capturing him on video than seeing or hearing the performance. There is nothing wrong with that, however, a concert should be about the music. Springfield’s performance itself was excellent. It was high-energy, and it gave his fans exactly what they wanted and expected.

As package tours go, this performance featuring the trio of ’80s hits-makers was fantastic. On this particular evening at the NYCB Theatre, Loverboy stole the show, but Springfield was by no means subpar. He delivered as expected an excellent show. The Romantics were also excellent and surprised many in the audience. As for Loverboy, their set right in the middle of The Romantics and Rick Springfield, was loud, fun and energetic—a pure Rock show. Though Rick Springfield may have had top billing and was listed as the main act, Loverboy played with the swagger and attitude of a headliner. Loverboy’s full-frontal assault went right to the audience’s Rock-n-Roll nerve center, took hold, and did not let go until the band had left the stage and the lights went up.

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Mike Perciaccante
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