How long can a band avoid becoming a caricature – a pale imitation of its past glories? There’s no stock answer, but thanks to some discount ticketing, I’ve seen Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, and Meat Loaf this year. The first two acts put on fine shows. Cooper was sad. Meat Loaf should have the decency to removing himself from performing.
Last night, I once again saw my teenage faves, the first rock ‘n’ roll band I truly loved, Cheap Trick for the umpteenth time. They haven’t been consistently great in the shows I’ve seen over the past few years. However, whether it is due to the group being revitalized with the stature nod of being nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or whether the bad karma about removing Bun E. Carlos has subsided, they put on a terrific show. If anyone has made the crossroads deal since Robert Johnson, it’s Robin Zander, who seemed tremendously happy and his voice was in great shape. Rick Nielsen isn’t the manic stage presence he was in his youth (he doesn’t get much air on his leaps anymore), but remains the consummate showman. Tom Petersson is the unsung melodic hero of the band and Daxx Nielsen is playing drums with more authority than ever.
The setlist was a fine mix for the casual fans, the hardcore fanatics, and the band (besides the major hits, they rotate a number of album tracks into their sets, both as candy for the faithful and to keep it interesting for themselves). Often overlooked in Cheap Trick’s tuneful appeal is how dark some of the subject matter is. “Heaven Tonight,” the title track to one of their strongest studio albums, is about a drug overdose. Robin took extraordinary thespian delight in performing “Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School,” a song written from the perspective of someone that wants to commit statutory rape.
No need to drag this out, because that’s not the Cheap Trick way. This is a band that was once a 1970’s teenage act that is now an American cultural institution. Last night they played like a legendary band and one that still had something to prove. The concert ended ten hours ago and I’m still smiling.
Grade – A
On Top of the World
He’s A Whore
Need Your Love
Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School
Magical Mystery Tour
I’m Waiting for The Man
I Want You to Want Me
Bang Zoom Crazy Hello
Going Steady: New Singles 3-17-23 – 3-23-23 Reviewed
it is like a change in the drill direction
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – June 1985 (Volume 17, Number 1)
Creem, at this point, seemed to be looking for new feeding hands to bite.
US Top Ten Albums Tracking 3-10-23 – 3-16-23
a potential top album of the year.
Dawes At Beacon Theatre, Saturday, March 18th, 2023, Reviewed
Refreshingly honest and considerate
Sneak Peaks: Upcoming New Albums 3-24-23 – 3-30-23
can they survive an entire album?
L.A. Burning, West Coast Concert Picks March 20th To 26Th
Fleet Foxes are at the Belasco on Wednesday
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – May 1985 (Volume 16, Number 12)
highlighting hair metal bands simply to make fun of them was more amusing than profitable
Steve – great review. I agree, but I think I would make an even stronger statement about how Cheap Trick seems to be playing and approaching shows in 2015. I do think the HOF nomination has helped give them a new energy, but I saw them in March here in Las Vegas and it was incredible. And that was before the HOF nomination…though they were amped about leaving for the Australian tour the next day. Uncle Dick (the famed two-neck Rick look-alike guitar) was not present because he was already on a slow boat to Australia. Not just saying that as a fan. That was the 18th time I had seen them over a 30 year span and I’d have to say it was one of their best and most energized shows I’ve seen. And they just plain sounded great – not the least of which was Robin’s voice. I’ll be the first to admit he’s not always on.
I’m a lover – and collector – of live music, so since Cheap Trick is my favorite I have hundreds of their shows on audio. Many of those recordings captured them at their less than sonic and enthusiastic best…a good fan and music listener can tell. But I have seen them once and listened to 14 other live shows I have of Cheap Trick from 2015 so far and I can say that, without a doubt, they are “on” this year. Robin sounds great (one way to really tell is to hear how he sounds at about the 5:00 mark on “The Flame”. But by the time they get to that song you already know…and in 2015 they have consistently been there. I was standing next to a big fan of theirs at the March Fremont Street Vegas NASCAR Race Jam show and he was expecting a “phoned-in” show because that’s what he saw a couple of years ago. He was blown away. They are still the real deal and more so than ever in 2015. It’s like they’re playing as if they are a headlining act again. Enjoy them – go see them if you have a chance. Not sure how long this party will keep going on, but it’s on now so take advantage of it…you won’t be sorry.