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During an intimate evening, Rick Springfirld proves he's still got it

Date Published: 06-05-2015

by Amanda Greever

I’m pretty certain Rick Springfield has taught me just as many life lessons as anybody else:

  1. Don’t talk to strangers;
  2. It’s all kinds of wrong to want Jessie’s girl;
  3. We all need the human touch;
  4. and you better love somebody, don’t wait.

Tuesday night in Knoxville, I added another maxim — “If wishes were fishes, I wouldn’t smell so sweet” — as Springfield brought his “Stripped Down” tour to the historic Tennessee Theatre. It marked the fourth time I’ve seen the ‘80s icon in concert.

Now for those of you getting squeamish, Springfield wasn’t performing wearing nothing but a smile. That would have been a different kind of show.

Instead, he treated audiences to an intimate solo show of music and storytelling. There was no band on stage. There wasn’t a flashy stage set. It was just a man, a chair, and his guitars — yes, multiple.

Springfield’s only “extras” were a screen behind him projecting old photos that tied into his songs and stories and a “Band in A Box,” a musical accompaniment of background vocals and instruments that were all performed by Springfield himself. It truly was a one-man show in every way.

Springfield, known for hits like “Jessie’s Girl,” “Affair of the Heart” and “Love Somebody,” performed those and more in what proved to be an up-close-and-personal look at a career spanning more than 40 years. The musician and actor has always been very open about the many highs and lows of his life. Tuesday night was no different. He had the audience laughing, crying and lusting.

Perhaps one of the most poignant moments was when Springfield talked about his father’s death. It was the first time he’d ever lost anyone close, and he penned “April 24, 1981” to forever memorialize the date and his loss. It’s only a few lines, but when combined with “My Father’s Chair,” I doubt there were many dry eyes in the theater, each of us connecting to his pain and remembering our own. He cried, I cried, and I’m sure plenty of others were crying, too.

We learned behind-the-scenes stories to some classic songs and got an inside look at the man behind those songs and Dr. Noah Drake — the “General Hospital” role that helped skyrocket Springfield to fame.

After the concert, Springfield even opened the floor up for a question-and-answer period. While the Q&As have gone really well at other shows, Knoxville’s was a little rough. Rather than taking the opportunity to ask Springfield personal questions in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Knoxville fans chose instead to ask the musician to wish people happy birthday, to say hello to students and even talk back to him when his answer was one they didn’t really like. But, perhaps even more embarrassing was the lady who got up to tell Springfield what a great performer he was and that she hoped he found Jesus. Insulting the man was just a great way to end the night.

Springfield puts on an amazing show, whether fully backed with a band or just a man with his guitar. It was intimate, it was honest, and it was filled with great music, even if they were slightly different arrangements than we’re accustomed to. After all, this is the same Rick Springfield who performs “The Human Touch” while walking through the audience giving the audience his own touch. He’s the man who will work up such a sweat, he strips down to his bare chest.

Between my BFF and some folks I ran into after the show, there were several of us who had seen Springfield multiple times. I’ll let them speak for themselves:

“You’ve seen him several times with a full band, and he’s always been amazing. He still plays better than he played 20 years ago.”

“He was just very raw and open with his emotions. It just made you feel he was more human.”

“He sort of gave us a synopsis of his entire life ... It was a play-by-play.”

“At Wildhorse, the crowd was so into it. It was so good. Just for a minute, you go back. You close your eyes. You can smell it, you can feel it. It was the ’80s. It was everything that was right about that time period. Not that this wasn’t, I just wasn’t prepared.”

That’s the beauty of Rick Springfield. He can be the man who takes you back to the days of big hair and guitar riffs. But he’s also the man who can play those same riffs in a softer way, proving that while he might be a rock star, he’s still just a man with flaws and dreams. And luckily, his fans will love and support him either way.

P.S. This film critic will be seeing the biggest movie in the country, “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” However, it won’t be till this weekend — I know, I’m ashamed of myself, too — so look for a full review next week.

P.S.S. Although, I had to focus on Rick Springfield, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the super talented Erick Baker, who served as the opening act. I hadn’t had the privilege of hearing Baker before, but I’ll definitely be checking out future shows. You should, too.


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