Thursday, June 25, 2009

Loverboy

Tonight @ M&I Classic Rock Stage, Summefest, 10 p.m.

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Here’s a shocker: MelodicRock.com—one of the Internet’s most respected hubs for fans of feel-good hard rock, heavy metal and power-pop—proclaimed Loverboy’s Just Getting Started as 2007’s “Album of the Year.”

“What a second,” we can hear you cry. “Loverboy has released an album since 1981’s quadruple platinum Get Lucky?” Actually, Just Getting Started is the Canadian quintet’s seventh studio album, and although it arrived with little fanfare two years ago as a Wal-Mart exclusive, Just Getting Started bridges the musical gap between the decades with a 37-minute mix of Loverboy’s punchy rockers, sentimental ballads and tongue-in-cheekiness. Indeed, the years have done little to mellow the group that electrified stadiums in the early ’80s with “Turn Me Loose,” “Working For the Weekend” and “This Could Be the Night.” And who can forget “Hot Girls in Love”?

All but one of the original Lover-men remain, and the band has spent the past several years touring hard—although they haven’t been anywhere near a stadium stage in years. Loverboy’s last studio album, the underwhelming VI, was released in 1997, which made the arrival and subsequent success of Just Getting Started even more startling. Despite more than a quarter-century on the road, vocalist Mike Reno still possesses a crisp, powerful set of pipes, and he still sings like a horny Everyman who can’t get a break.

Tragedy struck Loverboy in late 2000, when original bassist Scott Smith was reported missing at sea and presumed dead when a giant wave swept him off his 37-foot sailboat near the San Francisco coast. Reno dedicated “Stranded,” Just Getting Started’s cathartic final song, to Smith and says it snapped a long period of writer’s block. “It’s almost like he’s talking to me from wherever he is,” Reno told the The Vancouver Sun.