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Rick Springfield rocks the Clay Center

By Victoria McCabe

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In the early 1980s, just about every teenage girl in America owned vinyl records of Rick Springfield's "Working Class Dog" and "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" albums. Now middle-aged wives and mothers, many of those adoring former young ladies of the '80's flocked to the Clay Center Sunday night for a live performance by their favorite teen idol.

This was not only a night of nostalgia and novelty, though. While time might have weakened the aging Australian rocker's vocal power, it doesn't seem to have diminished his on-stage energy or the strong hold he has over his devoted fan base.

At age 62, Springfield is still quite capable of jumping around a stage and throttling his guitar with a young man's vigor. His onstage antics -- such as his signature move of shredding fan-tossed roses with his guitar, spraying his band with silly string, walking out into the audience and bringing an adorable little boy on stage with him -- elicited squeals of delight from his very boisterous female fans.

Springfield played plenty of fan favorites at the rowdy concert, including the Grammy-winning radio anthem "Jessie's Girl," popular hits like "Affair of the Heart," "Living in Oz," "Don't Talk to Strangers," "Love Somebody," "Human Touch," "I Get Excited" and "Kristina," as well as a medley that included "Calling All Girls," "What Kind of Fool Am I?" and "I've Done Everything For You."

His set also included songs from his more recent releases, like "Who Killed Rock & Roll?" and "Venus in Overdrive," along with solid covers of Paul McCartney's "Jet" and The Troggs' "Wild Thing."

The highlight of the evening was his bluesy, blistering rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Red House."

Nothing revved up the crowd, though, like those sing-along Springfield classics.

Springfield's '80s heartthrob status and attempts to recapture past glory through his fans' fond memories seem to prevent many from taking him or his music seriously. Still, there's no denying that his music has always abounded with catchy pop-rock hooks.

His concert in Charleston was energetic and entertaining, and I suspect even his mockers know every word to "Jessie's Girl."


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