There is a handful of acts that can always be relied upon to deliver live.
Rick Springfield is among that selective group.
The seemingly ageless rocker – he somewhat unbelievably just celebrated birthday 69 last week – brought his ‘80s-centric “Best in Show” tour to State Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Park on Sunday, and with him, the fun lineup of Loverboy, Greg Kihn and Tommy Tutone.
As per usual at a Springfield show, the crowd of about 3,500 weighed heavily female, and they came prepared, with many in the crowd toting in batches of red roses for Springfield to bash against his guitar and others waving signs as if they were 14-year-olds at a Taylor Swift concert.
Springfield and his slender frame were in top form from the opening “Light This Party Up” from his 2016 “Rocket Science” album into evergreen singalongs, “I’ve Done Everything for You” and “I Get Excited.”
The recent birthday boy also allowed the crowd to fete him with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” before delving into the guitar cruncher, “Affair of the Heart.”
Backed by a four-piece band (the same members also played behind Kihn and Tutone), Springfield goofed around with the guys and raised a toast to his fans (“It’s a crazy world…here’s to your safety and health”).
While many in attendance were likely there because of familiarity with Springfield’s biggest radio hits (yes, those would be “Jessie’s Girl” and “Love Somebody”), just as many are resolute Springfield fans who followed his career then and now.
Still, Springfield is an astute guy, so when he proclaimed, “I have a new record out! Who gives a s***?,” there was more than a hint of truth in his self-deprecation.
But, that new album, “The Snake King,” is a solid piece of work that showcases Springfield’s often-downplayed guitar abilities.
When he and the band burst into “Little Demon,” a spicy blues rocker with a heavy rhythmic thrust, it was clear that he was thrilled to be playing something new, as he hopped around in circles as he played and aggressively delivered the lyrics.
The avid Springfield devotees were treated to one of his terrific medleys, this one including the sublime “Don’t Walk Away” and “Bop ‘Til You Drop” from the “Hard to Hold” soundtrack, the always-amusing “Bruce” and his midlife-crisis thesis, “Rock of Life.”
Springfield reminded the crowd that his first concert in America took place in1974 – in Atlanta.
Luckily for fans, his returns are an almost annual event.
Loverboy was on the musical attack from the opening notes of “Notorious,” one of the Canadian band’s late-‘80s hits, and, like earlier-‘80s rocker “Queen of the Broken Hearts,” quite underrated in the band’s trove.
Singer Mike Reno, trademark bandanna in place, managed to replicate vocal inflections from the recorded versions impressively, hitting the notes on “Lovin’ Every Minute of It” and nailing the screech in “Turn Me Loose.”
While Reno is always the focal point, the rest of Loverboy tore into their classics with genuine enthusiasm and taut musicality.
Bassist Ken Sinnaeve ripped through bass lines as “Hot Girls in Love” spun to its conclusion, while drummer Matt Frenette offered a vigorous workout throughout the band’s 50-minute set – and also had the honor of thwacking the cowbell that introduces “Workin’ for the Weekend.”
Guitarist Paul Dean and keyboardist/harmonica player Doug Johnson added texture to “Queen…” and the entire band seemed to relish the crowd’s enthusiasm when they returned to encore with “The Kid is Hot Tonite.”
As they exited the stage, Reno wrung out his sweaty headwear and tossed it into the crowd. Was that really a treasured prize?
While Greg Kihn wasn’t going to win the Best Vocalist award of the night (that honor goes to Reno), he could be pegged the Funniest Guy on the bill.
Looking ‘80s-era sharp in a black tie and long-sleeved white shirt, Kihn joked that Weird Al Yankovic still earns him checks for “Jeopardy” (which the parody master changed from a love lament to “I Lost on Jeopardy”) before playing the song that, strangely, wasn’t a big singalong on this night.
The crowd agreeably digested the new power pop song, “The Life I Got,” from Kihn’s recent “ReKihndled” album, but it was his set-closer that reminded people, “Oh yeah, I know this guy!”
“This song put two of my kids through college,” Kihn said with a smile before he and the band broke into a guitar-heavy rendition of “The Breakup Song.”
Tommy Tutone (aka Tommy Heath) opened the show with a 20-minute set. Though he sounded robust on the lost treasure “Cheap Date” and other material, Tutone’s catalog was mostly unfamiliar to all but the most ardent fans – except, of course, for THAT song.
The drinking was still in its early stages during Tutone’s performance, but that didn’t preclude the amphitheater crowd from hopping up and singing along heartily to “867-5309/Jenny,” an earworm so famous, even Springfield joked during his show that people think it’s from his catalog.
Nope, this one is all Tutone’s.
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