Eddie Money returned to Cleveland last Friday night to head up another hit parade with his “ladies of the Eighties” at House of Blues.
To be fair, there were a lot of guys in the near-capacity audience, too—and they sang and danced just as enthusiastically as their dates. Maybe more.
Money hasn’t notched a chart hit in over a decade, but the New York-bred police trainee-turned-entertainer accumulated an impressive string of singles in the late ‘70s and ‘80s. Eddie and his band performed most of them at the March 28th show, thrilling diehards whilst repeatedly knocking casual fans upside their noggins with an easygoing, “betcha forgot this one” bravado.
There’s always been a bit of shtick to Money’s swagger and vocal delivery, but there was no faking the energy he and his backup players exuded from the HOB stage. Now in his early 60s, Eddie doesn’t always hit the high notes anymore—but he doesn’t skimp on lines or leave signature hooks solely to the audience, like many “legacy” artists his age. On the contrary, Money added and embellished some of his most memorable lines, encouraging onlookers to travel back in time with him and complete the feedback loop of FM nostalgia.
Accordingly, the Money Man broke ice with “Baby, Hold On” and “Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star” (from his eponymous 1977 album). From there, the itinerary tap-danced through Eddie’s catalog, hitting on vinyl classics like Life for the Taking (1978) and “comeback” disc Can’t Hold Back (1986). Throughout, Money sang, swirled, huffed on harmonica, and wailed on saxophone—all with the exuberance of someone half his age.
Joining Eddie were longtime drummer Glenn Symmonds (who recently conquered cancer), keyboardist Chris Grove, bassist Lee Beverly, and guitarist Tommy Girvin. Each man had a chance to shine while cranking out power ballads like “Endless Nights” and rockers like “No Control.” Grove sang backup while thumping out chords on his HAMM and Yamaha MOX-88 arrays. Beverly pinned the bottom end with his five-string bass, and Symmonds stomped his kick-drum pedal and smacked his snare with a vigor that belied his recent sickness. Positioned stage right, Girvin appeared to be having fun grinding out the guitar riffs and searing solos.
Money dedicated the 2012 one-off single “One More Soldier Coming Home” to men and women in the service. The song is still available on iTunes, with proceeds funneled to troop-centric philanthropies.
“Trinidad” rocked with Caribbean effervescence despite the cold temps outside. “Wanna Go Back” had everyone remembering his or her glory days in high school and college. “Gimme Some Water” recounted the misadventures of a condemned outlaw—and had Money smacking his own derriere like a cowboy in the saddle. “Think I’m In Love” had eveyone’s life lookin’ up, even if only for the night.
Eddie occasionally paused to reflect on his career and his time in Northeast Ohio. He joked about his rehab stints, gave a shout-out to former WMMS program director Kid Leo, and recounted his time at the legendary Swingos Hotel (where all the stars partied back in the ‘70s). But Money rebuked the suits on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selection committee for their peculiar nominations (and bizarre omissions) over the years, observing that many black R&B groups warrant induction before some of today’s alternative bands. Eddie also suggested that some of his contemporaries—including Peter Frampton and REO Speedwagon—receive recognition.
“It’s not about me,” he said. “You guys are my Hall of Fame!”
Eddie’s daughter Jessica got in on the act, too, venturing onstage late in the set to join pops on a couple tunes. She displayed terrific range and inflection on a couple soulful numbers, then handled the part originally assigned to Ronnie Spector on “Take Me Home Tonight.” Jess has joined Eddie on the road before, but she isn’t Money’s only singing offspring. Eddie’s son, Desmond Money, is also a developing singer / songwriter.
The main set wrapped with Money’s celebrated ode to the romantic getaway: “Two Tickets to Paradise” had folks shuffling to Girvin’s familiar lead guitar line, Beverly’s thick bass groove, and Symmond’s sharp drumming. Encore “Shakin’” gave everyone one last chance to accompany Eddie on vocals—and sent ‘em home “snappin’ their fingers.”