Cheap Trick Doesn't Disappoint
There are very few things in this crazy world and fast moving society that remain constant. Music styles change, star are made overnight and fade out even faster. Music has given way to the Johnny Bravo effect (as long as they fit the suit and look good the rest can be artificially produced). Top 40 music isn't really even music anymore, it's programmed drum beats, samples and sound effects with a vocal "fix it machine" called auto-tune that makes the ability to sing even unnecessary. I have been called a "Cranky Old/Young Man" since I hit my 40's, and probably deservedly so, I find myself less happy with the state of todays music than at any time ever and bitch about it regularly. I just needed a good dose of Cheap Trick.
For a band that has been around for nearly 40 years they still understand what a concert should be, so what if Rick Nielson is 65, he doesn't act like it and he doesn't look like it, neither does the rest of the band. Cheap Trick took command of the stage Sunday night and never relinquished. It was almost an assault, an assault of music that doesn't sound dated live, an assault of energy that few bands (old or young) possess and most importantly an assault of such incredibly well written, hooky, catchy and rocking songs you will ever hear. They covered something for everyone without leaving anyone out, there were the hits (Dream Police, Surrender, I Want You To Want Me and The Flame) the FM album rock staples (Big Eye's, Ain't That A Shame, California Man and Auf Wiedersehen) and the deeper cuts (The Ballad of TV Violence, Borderline and Never Had A Lot To Lose) not to mention the opener "Hello There" and the closer "Goodnight Now".
The energy in the BMO Harris Pavilion was through the very well appreciated roof (nasty thunderstorms rolled in 2 songs into the concert), the lightning over Lake Michigan (visible to the right and left sides of the stage) added a new dimension to a show I have never seen before and probably never will again. Rick Nielson introduced Hot Love as "a song off of an album that came out before 85% of you were born", that brought laughs and the focus on the age of the audience. Though 85% may be a little bit of an exaggeration about 50% of the audience were probably not alive when Cheap Trick were making actual albums (out of vinyl). Let me shed my cranky old man moniker for a moment, the younger portion of audience members (anyone under 35) were going nuts and knew every word to pretty much every song (including the deeper cuts and the songs from the first album). A younger couple sitting behind me (looking to be in their mid 20's) said midway through the concert that they had never seen a band put on a show like this. As the night wore on some of the more tepid fans started filter out, a late bed time combined with some of the heavier tunes "Need Your Love" and "I Know What I Want" seemed to wear on the non diehards, though not many.
From a personal standpoint to see Cheap Trick play "Look Out" and "She's Tight" live was a highlight. Robin Zander still looks and sounds awesome and even did a little lead guitar work of his own on a couple of songs. Tom Peterson looks like a man who is 10 to 15 years younger than he actually is and wielded his Hamer 12 string base like a weapon. Peterson also had a couple of spotlight moments at the beginning of "I Know What I Want", "Auf Wiedersehen" and "Brontosaurus" (the intro to "California Man"). He did have a somewhat humorous mistake for Cheap Trick diehards on "The Borderline" a song that was recorded during the time he left the band in the early 80's. Dax Nielson has replaced Bunn E, he did a great job but like most long standing Cheap Trick fans I'm sure we would have loved to see the man from Bunzuela behind the drum kit (maybe for their 45th anniversary). Last but not least the man at the center of Cheap Trick, Rick Nielson. Nielson has long been heralded as one of the most underrated guitar players in rock history, I think that title needs to be laid to rest, with every year Cheap Trick continues more and more of the fans and fellow musicians are recognizing him as one of the greats, Sunday night did nothing to damage his reputation. The effortless way Nielson plays and his ability to make it sound like there are two guitars (sometimes even 3) being played when it's only him are amazing. Fans also got to see a great sample of Nielson's world renowned guitar collection throughout the night.
I don't know how long Cheap Trick can keep this up and I don't care, all I can tell you is to go see them before it's too late. Take your kids to see them, if there is a young musician in your life take them to see Cheap Trick, go out and see what a real rock band does when they hit the stage.
PS, it was brought to my attention that my last blog was borderline unreadable. I took a look at it after a couple of people brought it to my attention. Here is what happened... The day I wrote that blog either my computer or OnMilwaukee.com was acting up and refreshing itself every minute, because of that I typed up the blog in Word and pasted it into the blog. What I didn't realize was that almost all of the punctuation was either removed, changed or moved. Yes it is pretty much unreadable, I thought about going back in and correcting it but figured those who read it aren't going back for a second time. Thanks for reading my blog and bringing this to my attention