“This is getting out of hand,” Rick Springfield, exclaimed as red women’s panties landed at his feet halfway through the song “Affair of the Heart.” He couldn’t have been more right. Though fans in Englewood, NJ might not have been tearing up the walls of the Bergen Performing Arts Center last month, they were undeniably captivated by the 60-year-old, Australian-American.

As if he were still in his late 20’s and at the prime of his career, Springfield jumped around the stage energetically, while exaggerating his guitar striking gestures from the very moment he entered the spotlight. Petals of roses and daisies flooded the stage, while bouquet after bouquet was destroyed rhythmically to the beat of the drums by the 1983 Grammy-Award winning artist of ’80s hit sensation “Jesse’s Girl.”

Four songs into the show his shirt came off. “Close your eyes, I don’t want to offend anybody,” he exclaimed as his lean, muscular body came into view. Taking his time, he changed from his white shirt and black vest into a black sleeveless shirt. Needless to say – the mostly 30-to-40-year-old female crowd went wild.

Thriving on audience participation, Springfield’s set-list mainly consisted of old songs such as “Love is Alright Tonight,” “I’ve Done Everything for You” and “I Get Excited.” Eager to instill a bit of variety, he did include two recent songs from his new album Venus in Overdrive, and two covers, one of which was a vocally mellow interpretation of “Wild Thing,” made popular in 1966 by the Troggs.

Heart stopping guitar solos combined with strong, heartfelt vocals, which were vividly clearer than those found on records, were reminiscent of ’80s musical movie Eddie and the Cruisers during the entire 90-minute set. Yet the classical style of rock music was not what drove the crowd wild, but rather the memories of being young conjured up by the old.

Constantly trying to work the crowd he cracked jokes throughout his performance, commenting on how New Jersey and New York City “are the same thing” just like his Australian accent could be British. However, the highlight of the night was not his own act, but rather of three children from the crowd, who he invited on stage during the song “Don’t Talk to Strangers”. As the song began to play—the crowd went silent. Matt, the eldest of the children at age 11, left everyone in the venue awestruck by his dancing capabilities, including Springfield, who cried out: “I think I just lost control of my own show!”  The unusual quartet performance continued till 6-year-old Sarah bellowed out the chorus line “don’t talk to strangers”.

As the show neared its end, Springfield looked mischievously at the crowd, forming a sly smile on his face. All went dark and silent for four minutes creating unprecedented tension throughout the horde of fans–until a single chord was played. It was time. The moment they had all waited for. The whole venue shook from overjoyed screams as Springfield opened his mouth and bellowed out, “Jessie is a friend/yeah, I know he’s been/ a good friend of mine/ But lately something’s changed/ that ain’t hard to define…” Walking out of the venue, the melody still echoed throughout the hallways and minds, accompanying the fans as they treaded toward their cars, blatantly proving that Springfield has still got it.

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