Hot Granny's In Love!
Loverboy Live in 2018
Story by James West, The-Rocker.com
Everyone has the REAL job; you know, the one that pays the bills so you can enjoy the weekend and do what you really want to do. Everybody is working for the weekend, and this Loverboy standard meant something special this year.
Like many others I had to do the REAL job on Valentine’s Day this year, but to make it up to my Valentine, The Rocker Chic Danette West found out that Loverboy was actually performing on the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, and I just happen to have the weekend off for a change.
We secured the tickets online via Star Tickets and were excited to see one of my favorite bands of the early 80’s for the first time in Palm Springs, a short 45 minute drive from The West Castle. Or so we thought it was in Palm Springs! The morning of the event we found out different.
The morning of the event Danette started yelling Michigan! Michigan! Michigan! It turns out somehow the tickets we purchased were not for Saturday night, but for a couple weeks later to see Loverboy somewhere in Michigan! But, a quick call to Star Tickets and the issue was resolved and we actually got the seats I originally selected in Palm Springs. Thank you, Star Tickets!
It’s great but kind of sad at the same time. Tickets for Loverboy were only 30 bucks a piece! Of course there were also some 150 and 200 dollar seats available, but the 30’s put us actually pretty close to the stage at the outdoor venue under the stars and beneath the palms at Spa Resort and Casino. The sad part is that this band at one point was probably the most popular band on the planet on the airwaves and on MTV. But as with many bands I love from this era, they are reduced to the casino circuits and the county fair circuits of the world. Meanwhile, the Justin Bieber’s of the world can fart and make a million in a minute. But that’s another story altogether…
We arrived at the Spa Resort and Casino a couple hours early and took advantage of another great value, the buffet! But, the best thing about this buffet was not what was on your plate, but rather who was standing next to you at the buffet!
Danette came up to me quickly and whispered, “Ain’t that the guy from Loverboy?” I looked up and it was none other than Paul Dean, guitarist extraordinaire for the band. She was quick to point out how unobservant I am sometimes! Lol The other thing I’m quick to do is lose my memory when one of my early guitar hero’s is in my presence! I wanted to call him Mike for some stupid reason even though I knew that Mike was the lead singer’s name. So, like a dumbass I pointed at him and said, “Loverboy?”
Paul nodded and I shook his hand and introduced Danette to him and he shook her hand as well. As he was standing there holding his buffet plate, like a dummy again I said, “We’re here for the concert and we’re big fans. But, I’ll let you eat your dinner.” What? Why didn’t I at least ask to get a damn photo, I’m sure he would have accommodated
us, but he was really gracious with his time with us anyway. It was hard to enjoy the rest of the meal as now both of us were staring at everyone wondering if they were in the band also! Lol Danette did spot some weird dude in a black and white zebra-type shirt and bandana with silver and black makeup at the dessert line. For a minute we thought it was Mike Reno dressed in disguise like some weird incarnation of Vinnie Vincent-era Kiss! Ha, who knows, maybe it was Mike having a little fun with us!
Loverboy Hits The Stage!
Showtime was 7:30 but a few minutes before I noticed drummer Matt Frenette came out and was actually helping his drum tech set up his drums. I don’t think anyone noticed this in the crowd, and I was tempted to walk up and ask for a drumstick before the show even started! Ha!
Keyboard player Doug Johnson got things started with some keyboard playing with the band making their way out and launching into “Notorious” from the bands’ “Wildside” album.
It’s funny they started with this song as it was penned by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, singer and guitarist, who don’t tour anymore due to friction between the two. It’s the same fate that fell upon Mike Reno and Paul Dean after this album was released over 30 years ago. But you can tell time has healed any hurt feelings as both Mike and Paul had great chemistry the whole evening, with Mike even singing “Happy Birthday” to Paul, who turns 72 on February 19th. “Just think, next year you’ll be hitting the big 5 – 0,” Mike joked to Paul, which garnered the crowd’s applause.
The thing I love about Loverboy is that even though they were a “pop hit-machine” for most of the 80’s their guitar sound was always raw and in your face. Things haven’t changed a bit over 30 years as Paul Dean still welds a mighty axe, and I was also very impressed with Matt’s drumming and Ken’s bass playing. I’m not much of a keyboard lover but Doug did a great job on keyboards as well.
The real Hero of the night was really Mike Reno though. “The Kid Is Hot Tonight” was his theme song for the evening. From my experience with going to a lot of concert with “high vocal” type singers, Mike’s voice has held up extremely well all these years. Most of his vocals sounded album worthy, with the exception of the delay-heavy ballad “Almost Paradise.”
The hits like “Turn Me Loose”, “Working For The Weekend”, and “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It” all sounded fantastic, but it was the deeper cuts like “Take Me To The Top”, and “When It’s Over” that really stood out for me.
It’s too bad the great musicianship and delivery from the band took awhile to get the crowd moving though. I think there was one guy who stood up and showed he was really getting into it, and then you could hear people yelling, “Sit Down!” I mean, what was this, a Rock and Roll Concert or something? Ha!
Hot Granny's In Love!
But over the course of the show the crowd soon started to loosen up. First there was a couple of drunk grandma’s dancing around in the isles, with one of them eventually face-planting the pavement to everyone’s enjoyment. Then, a few songs later, the “older” crowd started to make their way to an early departure.
I witnessed one grandpa who had streams of toilet paper stuffed in his ears while walking briskly away from the Rock. Not to say that there was a lot of old people at this concert, but damn there was a lot of old people at this concert. Oops, said it! Mike Reno even joked about it when he asked if there was a certain senior citizen community center present. That’s ok, Hot Grandma’s were In Love with him that night, along with the rest of the crowd.
The tides turned when the crowd suddenly realized just how great this band really is when Matt and Ken launched into an incredible drum and bass solo combo that stunned everyone.
The precision of the drum patterns combined with guitar-solo worthy notes from a bass player who didn’t even use a pick was especially felt by the audience.
The two played everything from Hendrix’s “Burning Of The Midnight Lamp” to dub reggae lines and amazed everyone in attendance. From that moment on, the crowd was in Loverboy’s hands, and Mike and Paul hammered home the hits to standing ovations from there on out.
Some of the crowd left before the encore, so Danette pulled me up close to the stage to shoot pics and rock out with the rest of the remaining crowd. We were also able to “Get Lucky” by snagging one of Paul’s guitar pics for my collection.
We had a hell of a belated Valentine’s Day celebration thanks to a group of 60-70 year olds who still rock as hard and in your face as they did forty years ago. Us old farts in the audience tried to keep up the best we could, and we were “Loving Every Minute Of It.” It’s the best 30 bucks I ever spent in my life.