Teenage girls battle for Mike Reno’s sweaty headband when Loverboy plays Vancouver


chris cameron photo


By Steve Newton

Local rock heroes Loverboy played to a near-capacity Expo Theatre last Monday (June 30), the first of three nights at the 4,000-seat facility. The last time the group had played here was four years ago, when they were backed up by a fast-rising singer by the name of Bryan Adams. Since then, Adams has pretty well stolen their thunder with his record-breaking Reckless album, but if Monday’s show is any indication, Loverboy are still number one to a lot of their fans.

After an impressive opening set from Jim Foster, who played tunes from his current album Power Lines, roadies put the finishing touches on Loverboy’s spare but effective stage show. The P.A. blasted out AC/DC‘s “Back in Black”, and when one of Loverboy’s technicians gave the old “crank it up” signal with his thumb, you could tell right away the concert was going to be a loud one. The vibrations were so strong that you could actually see the bass drums on Matt Frenette’s kit pulsing with the beat.

At this point the 32-year-old fellow in the next seat over announced that he’d flown in from Rome, Italy that night just to see the concert, and that the trip was going to cost him close to $4,000. I thought to myself that four grand was pushing it for a concert by Loverboy.

When the group ran onstage and headed straight into “The Kid Is Hot Tonight”, the reaction was mild for the five hometown heroes, but the audience–which consisted mostly of teenage girls–would get steadily more vocal as the show went on. Fuzzy-haired guitarist Paul Dean pulled out a slide to get the point across on “Lady of the Eighties”, and his shrieking wah-wah effect on the next tune really tested the limits of eardrums up front.

After a thankfully short drum solo, the band played their new single “Heaven in Your Eyes”, a ballad along the same lines as the “Almost Paradise” song that Loverboy vocalist Mike Reno and Heart’s Anne Wilson recorded last year.

Although keyboardist Doug Johnson had refused to play on the recorded version of “Heaven…” because it was made for the militaristic film Top Gun, he agreed to play the song during the current tour out of dedication to Loverboy fans.

Whatta guy.

The thought-provoking “Hot Girls in Love” came next and soon small groups in the crowd were on their feet and cheering. The guy from Rome gave a howl. Five girls battled for Reno’s sweaty red headband when he tossed it out. Things were starting to pick up.

“Lovin’ Every Minute of It”, the title track of Loverboy’s latest album, had fists flying just like at heavy metal shows, and the opening bass lick of “Turn Me Loose” was enough to get my Italian neighbour on his feet. “Working for the Weekend”, probably the best tune that Loverboy’s ever done, had him–and a lot of others–dancing on the spot.

After a couple of rowdy encores that included “Dangerous’, “It’s Over”, and “Queen of the Broken Hearts”, Loverboy had won nearly everyone over and it was time to leave, ears a-buzz. Heading toward Expo’s West Gate, the lyrics of “The Unicorn” could be heard coming from the Irish Rovers’ pub.

After Loverboy, they didn’t sound that dumb at all.

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