Many rock acts while touring play the same songs in the same order night after night, of course there that is perfectly normal and there is nothing wrong with that, the audience knows what to expect. Cheap Trick, appearing live at The Centre at Casino NB tonight rarely followed the rules over the years, having some nights I’ve heard, played entire albums as their show list for the night, one whole album and that was it. Having spotted the set list at the sound board I knew that was not to be the case tonight, but there were some hidden gems mixed in with their bigger more well known hits.
As Nielsen’s chords blasted out to open the night with “Hello There,” followed up from their debut album by “Ello Kiddies” lead singer/guitarist Robin Zander, dressed in all black, stepped forward to the centre mic and launched us into a night of great rock music. Playing songs that spanned the last 35 plus years of music, formed way back in 1973 in Rockford, Illinois, and with three out of the four original members (original drummer Bun E. Carlos being replaced currently by guitarist Rick Neilson’s son Daxx)…they are still a rocking good time.
The vocals of Robin Zander have not lost much over the years and for a guy just into his sixties, it’s pretty impressive that he can still hit notes that he was singing in his twenties. While some of the vocals seemed to be a bit of a reach times, overall I was very impressed by his ability to perform the songs as we know them.
Rick Neilsen hasn’t changed in all the years of playing, with his antics on stage and his constant guitar changes with every different song. His penchant for throwing guitar picks to the crowd hasn’t stopped either, byt the end of the night throwing them out by the handful. Neilson, who you would never know turns 68 this year, with his hopping around the stage and fitful energy (he never seemed to stop moving, ever) was a lightning rod the whole night and is the energy of this band.
Tom Petersen kept the bass flowing through the night, while chipping in with background vocals, on a gorgeous 12-string Gretsch bass that was a snazzy white, even gracing us with a solo while the rest of the band took a break at one point. Great songs flowed from the band all night long, including their song which was the theme song for the hit TV show, “That 70’s Show”. Of course they played their only number one single, “The Flame” along with classic, “I Want You To Want Me” that has graced classic rock radio for decades.
After a rousing “Dream Police,” to end the regular set, the crowd had no problem in demanding an encore, which consisted of three songs, one being “Surrender” a big hit for the band and also “Goodnight” for which Rick Nielsen broke out his 5 neck guitar for the night’s closer.
It’s obvious 35 years removed from Cheap Trick’s performance at Budokan, that Rick Nielsen can still clown around, throw out guitar picks (which he did by the handful tonight), play a collection of outrageous guitars and make it look easy, even if it isn’t. Petersson can smile and deliver scorching bass lines on his beautiful white Gretsch 12-string bass and Zander can lead them through it all. It’s damn near impossible to not get into a Cheap Trick concert.