Rick Springfield “Stripped Down” Tour: Live at the Bergen PAC
by Shelley Bromberg, MsBrom.com
As the Northeast began hunkering down for the first big snow storm of the season Wednesday night, and the weather dipped down from a balmy 60 degrees during the day to below freezing once the sun set, things were heating up inside the theatre at the Bergen PAC in Englewood! Excited fans exited the cold and filled the warm theatre to see their teenage heartthrob Rick Springfield “Stripped Down” - an intimate evening with their idol, his songs, and the stories behind his career and the making of the music.
As a side note, for those of you, like myself, who had to take a moment out of your busy day (from reminsicing about Rick and the great music of the ‘80’s) to explain to your teen and tween daughters exactly who Rick Springfield is -just hum a few bars and strum an air guitar…You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl. I wish that I had Jessie’s girl. Where can I find a woman like that? They will understand and let you get back to your reverie.
The audience filled up with mostly women - with some peppering of men — in their forties and fifties, and we had the opportunity to catch up with a few. Linda from Passaic, sporting a “Jessie’s Girl 81” pink T shirt, divulged that while she’s been a huge Springfield fan for many years, this is the first time she’s attending a Springfield concert. “I’m so happy… I can’t wait!” she exclaimed, revealing that she and her friend Rose from Rockaway came via limo to finally hear one of their favorite singers.
Rose herself easily recalls that not only she, but both of her daughters, now 51 and 49, have always been huge fans. So much so, that a few years ago one daughter asked her husband if the two of them could see Springfield while touring in Atlanta. When her husband said no, she burst into tears. Her husband then beseeched his brother-in-law to send his wife, Rose’s other daughter from New Jersey, to come to Atlanta to see the concert with his wife. All was well in the family, as the sisters went to the concert together and the husbands stayed home.
This is not to say that men are not Springfield fans. We met Sal from West Orange, who learned from The View that Springfield is a huge Star Wars fan. So, when Rick Springfield arrived early at the venue this afternoon, Sal was there to greet him with a vintage Star Wars book and to get an album autographed. After Sal met his idol, he was delighted to see Rick skim through the pages of the book as he walked away.
As everyone takes their seats, we see that the stage is set with six guitars, microphone and stools with a big screen in the background. When the lights go down, the audience is treated to a montage of Rick Springfield — images as the singer, songwriter, and actor, some of which include early spots on The Incredible Hulk, Wonder Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man. The audience cheers as images of Springfield as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital appear, as many can recall this is also when his number 1 hit “Jessie’s Girl” also came out.
We also view an Oprah clip stating that if she had known there really was a “Jessie’s Girl,” the staff would have tried to bring her on the show with Springfield! And yet another is a more recent image of Springfield with acting powerhouse, Meryl Streep, where the two shared the silver screen in Ricki and the Flash. Clearly, Rick Springfield has had an incredible career that continues to span the decades, and every step of the way his fans have been with him.
When Springfield takes the stage, audience members sing, clap, and some even dance as the rock musician begins with I Get Excited. Also impacted by the impending storm, Springfield soon discloses, “I guess we are here in Jersey for a couple of nights,” as the audience cheers.
Springfield smoothly segues into An Affair of the Heart. As he strums his guitar and sings: But don’t try to tell me, the audience doesn’t miss a beat You think it’s all physical. It goes much deeper than that. It’s an affair of the heart. It can not be denied as the evening progresses, that this song is a metaphor for the love shared between Rick and his multitude of worldwide fans, and the fans and their undying love for Springfield.
In addition to singing his most famous tunes, the artist also took time to share heartwarming and often humorous stories of his life beginning with his early days including growing up in Australia, traveling the world as a military brat, the making of early life-long musical friendships, and the making of the music itself.
One of his earlier anecdotes sets back to 1968. Rick was 17 and he and his band entered Vietnam via open helicopter to play for the troops. They assumed they would be protected, so they were surprised when they were questioned if they had any guns! As the concert began, they had to quickly take cover as grenades and bullets were flying 50 yards away! All in all, Springfield exclaims, “It was pretty freaking scary!”
Some of the musical highlights included a mash-up of Jessie’s Girl and Tommy Tutone’s 867–5309 Jenny with a slice of My Sharona. Audience members are delighted after his rendition of The Human Touch when Springfield shouts, “We all need the human touch!” then runs into the audience for crowd surfing, selfies, and lots of hugs from his admiring fans.
The evening took on a melancholy tone, as Springfield reveals he understood the ying and yang of life when his father passed while his career was taking off. He sadly states that Mummy too recently passed in December, and Springfield pours open his heart singing Four Billion Heartbeats and My Father’s Chair, while audience members view family pictures on the big screen. At the song’s conclusion, Springfield uses his arm to wipe the tears as audience members stand and applaud the heart wrenching tunes.
The concert raps up with Springfield discloses that it was while he was taking a stain glass maker class, he became friendly with a man named Gary and his girlfriend, for whom he soon began to develop feelings. He started putting the experience to music using the lyrics Gary’s Girl, but it just wasn’t working. Once he changed the lyrics to Jessie’s Girl, he had his hit, and, as they say, the rest is history.
All in all, Springfield’s Stripped Down was a wonderful evening of laughter and tears, heartwarming stories, and wonderful music and guitar strumming. For more information on upcoming events featuring Rick Springfield please visit www.rickspringfield.com. For more information on upcoming events at the Bergen PAC, including Itzhak Perlman on October 21st and Kathy Griffin on November 4th, please visit bergenpac.org or call (866)753–9874.