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Ah, The 80’s… What an interesting decade. The skinny ties, big hair, pagers, Walkman radios, and of course MTV (when they actually played music videos). The 80’s generated some of the most classic and iconic music of all time.  Somewhere nestled in between Duran Duran and Metallica was a band called Loverboy.  If you were alive during that time, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard their most famous song, “Working for the Weekend”.  Some would agree this song could easily be considered a soundtrack for the decade and truly one of the catchiest songs you’ll ever hear.

Loverboy, along with many bands from that era are enjoying a resurgence of sorts; getting back on the road reacquainting themselves with their fans from their heyday.  Having never seen them live before (I have no idea why), I was eager to finally see what this Canadian hit-maker could do live.  Let’s face it, onstage is where a band really shines. 

Last Thursday night at The City National Grove of Anaheim,  I finally got my chance.  As I walked into the theater, I noticed it was a touch quieter than I would have expected leading up to an anticipated concert but alas, this was a dinner show.  The room was filled with restaurant noise as fans were enjoying wine with their Herb Roasted half chickens and Red Wine Braised short ribs.  I tried not to stare as It looked profoundly better than the torpedo sandwich I had finished earlier.

Almost on queue as the last of the dinnerware was removed, the fans made their way in to fill the theater up quite nicely.  By now, many in the upbeat crowd were sporting their Mike Reno signature headbands and itching to get this show started.  It was here where that telltale feeling was in the air signaling the show was close.  Everyone (and I mean everyone) was wide-eyed and smiling and as this show was just about ready to get underway.

When the lights finally dropped, the crowd immediately focused their attention on Doug Johnson (keyboards, harmonica) as he began the set with that unmistakable intro to “Notorious”.  With Matt Frenette (drums) keeping time in his unmistakably animated style until the song’s first guitar chord by Paul Dean (guitars) ripped through the theater, it was clear they were on. The sound was clean, full, and crunchy enough to keep even this stubborn head-banger happy.  Mike Reno (vocals) walked out with arms outstretched which summoned another roar from the crowd, providing that final burst of energy as the song is now in full stride.  Before the song even hits it’s midpoint, people were starting to dance in the aisles.  Good thing the plates were already gone as this night was already shaping up to be some kind of party.

Loverboy proceeded to expertly roll through their catalog of hits, including “The Kid is Hot Tonight”, “Queen of Broken Hearts”, and fan favorite “Hot Girls in Love”.  With each passing song, I was taken back how good these songs still sound today, and especially Mike Reno’s singing.  This was especially true during “Take me to the Top”,  where it's here that it's memorable bass-line meanders behind Reno’s singing and showcases well what he can still do.  Most Impressive. 

Reno paused to interact a bit with the crowd and expressed some concern about his ability to even play this show!  You see, currently in Southern California we’re smack-dab in the middle of our wildfire season, and he mentioned he couldn’t even talk the day before!  With our single-digit humidity and smoke in the air, Reno likened the weather here in SoCal to that of a “Popcorn fart”!  After giving the crowd a quick chuckle, Reno continued on with the set sounding just as well as he did years ago; showing no ill-effects from Southern California's abrasive air quality.

Reno and the boys plodded on and finished strong with the aforementioned “Working for the Weekend” which had kept everyone up, singing and dancing. The night ended with rousing applause and satisfaction all around. What a show!

Loverboy didn’t overwhelm with extravagant stage and lighting, but after seeing them it’s clear that didn’t have to.  The well-fed crowd was treated to an upbeat and flat-out fun show that failed to disappoint.  If you’re in the mood for a show that’ll take you back a few decades, get you off your seat and dancing in the aisles, then Loverboy is definitely the ticket!  Keep your eyes open and check them out on their next pass-through.  You’ll surely be “Loving Every Minute of It”!

John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

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