The music of the '80s continues to get a bad rap. Ask most anyone. They'll groan or roll their eyes at the mere mention of one of the decade's more bombastic hair bands or bubblegum pop groups. So be it. For reasons obvious to this music fan and other fans of '80s music, concerts featuring some of the bands from the legwarmer decade continue to see a boom in popularity.
Last night, the "Working Class Tour," featuring '80s singers Rick Springfield, Eddie Money and Patty Smyth with Scandal, rocked Pier Six Pavilion like it was 1985. With a delightful breeze in the air, the show kicked off right at 7:30 p.m. with Patty Smyth and Scandal. Playing hits "Goodbye to You," "The Warrior" and "Sometimes Love Ain't Enough," Patty and company drew huge cheers after their short 30-minute set. Vocally, Smyth sounded as good as she ever did.
After a short intermission, Eddie Money (born Eddie Mahoney and a one-time NYPD cop, by the way) took the stage in a handsome (but, gosh it had to be hot) black suit and red tie. Eddie delivered his many hits, as well as a number of cover songs from his newest CD Wanna Go Back, including "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." Personally, I would have been happier just getting Eddie's older tunes, which I know singers don't like hearing. But those were the highlight, with many accompanied by Eddie's familiar head shakes. Eddie delivered all the favorites: "Baby Hold On," "Two Tickets to Paradise," "Take Me Home Tonight" (with daughter Jessica taking on Ronnie Spector's part), "I Wanna Go Back," "Walk on Water" and the amazing "Shakin'." A great set, all-around.
But alas, in the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I mostly went to the "Working Class Tour" to see the singer/songwriter who released the album Working Class Dog in 1981. Yes, I'm a major Rick Springfield fan. Say what you will. To me and many like me, he's an underrated musician who's penned some of the most inventive, clever and enjoyable tunes of the past 25 years. And incidentally, he's been a professional musician for some 40 years. Nope, the Australian rocker didn't get his start in the music biz because he played Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital in the early '80s. He'd been an accomplished musician for years. But as fate would have it, his huge hit "Jessie's Girl" skyrocketed up the charts soon after he took on the soap acting role, so he was perceived as an actor who decided to get into music for kicks. Not so.
And through the years, along with periodic acting jobs, Rick has continued to release a strong body of musical work and tour continuously. As headliner of the "Working Class Tour," the 57-year-old Aussie didn't disappoint.
Opening with "Who Killed Rock and Roll," and then rolling into "Affair of the Heart," Rick rocked out, hit after hit. With his trademark guitar-tosses into the air, subsequent guitar-smashes onto the stage and rose-petal swipes at his guitar strings, it was an eye-popping show, as well as a euphonic delight.
In his hour-plus set, Rick played "Rock of Life," "Don't Talk to Strangers" (with lots of audience participation), "Bop 'Til You Drop," "Don't Walk Away," "I Get Excited," the Who's "My Generation," "Alyson," "Love Somebody," I've Done Everything For You" and many others. His final song, we thought, was the ubiquitous "Jessie's Girl," and it, of course, received rollicking applause. The encore featured just one song -- "Love Is Alright Tonight" -- with its hypnotic guitar intro and playful lyrics. It all ended too soon but was definitely a hit with the Baltimore audience, which was on its feet for nearly the entire show.
Ah, the '80s are still, like, totally awesome, dude.
So inquiring minds want to know ... Were you there? Who'd you come to see? Have a highlight? Lowlight? Did you wear spandex? Vans? A mesh shirt? A "Relax" or "Choose Life" shirt? 'Fess up! I proudly wore my 1985 Rick Springfield "Tao" concert tee.