Words & Pics By David Thrower
Any visit by Illinois rock band Cheap Trick is a delight to be savored and with a duo of recent excellent releases the anticipation could be felt throughout a packed Manchester Academy – a mood even the recent wet weather failed to dampen. But first things first – the starter course.
Having had a blast at the recent Download Festival, West Midland’s hard rock four-piece Stone Broken appear to be ascendancy at a phenomenal pace having landed such a notable support slot. And, with a further tour lined up alongside Living Colour it’s easy to understand why they appear to be having so much fun. Armed with instruments and beaming smiles the band ran through a short set of bristling high energy with vocalist/guitarist Rich Moss surrounded by a trio of musicians determined to take the attention away from the front-man with their athleticism and enthusiasm. Bearing a sound similar to that of a certain Kentucky quartet it would improper of me to call the band Black Stone (Broken) Cherry but the trucker cap does fit quite snugly.
When Cheap Trick released the excellent ‘Bang, Zoom, Crazy … Hello’ last year they not only proved without a shadow of a doubt that they are still one of the best rock ’n’ roll bands in the World but also, despite being midway through their fifth decade in the business, they can still kick some serious ass. Now, with new album ‘We’re All Alright’ under their respective belts, they’ve shown their current purple patch looks set to continue – and for that, we should all be thankful.
Mixing fun with rock has always been the ‘Tricks forte so for every powerhouse of a 12-string bass line provided by long-time Tom Petersson there was guitarist Rick Nielsen’s gurning mug, for every dynamic drum beat from Rick’s son Daxx came his dad’s comical guitar style and for every passionate vocal delivery from the booted and suited Robin Zander came the pick-obsessed Rick sending the plastic calling cards flying off in all directions. At one point, as he tired of getting no attention from the security guard as he pinged pick after pick at the poor guy’s head, Nielsen retreated to the back of the stage, took up a handful of plectrums and emptied the entire contents over the guard’s unsuspecting bonce. Far from diluting Cheap Trick’s fiery effervescence these moments of comedy enhance their overall air of bonhomie and brilliance adding visually to the fun and good cheer that resonates through their music. Part-Beatles, part-ELO, part good time rock ‘n’ roll, the band ran through a set of high-energy rockers such as ‘Long Time Coming’ from their new album, the epic groove of ‘Gonna Raise Hell’ and the classic ‘Dream Police’ – Zander resplendent in peaked cap and jacket that paid homage to the album cover yet given an updated makeover – as well as revisiting their 1981 ballad ‘If You Want My Love’, which may have contained more high notes than Zander would have preferred. Thankfully a more than willing audience was on hand to provide backing vocals throughout the evening and never more so than during ‘I Want You to Want Me’ and the rousing, life-affirming ‘Surrender’ which sums up everything about the band during four-and-a-bit minutes of truly sensational pop-rock.
By the time they brought proceedings to a close, Nielsen sporting one of his 400 guitars (sadly, the five-neck behemoth did not make an appearance), it was clear to all present that Cheap Trick are still masters of their art and, on the strength of the new material, will continue to lord supreme for some time to come. During ‘Surrender’ the band cry ‘we’re all alright’ – you were more than alright boys, you were bloody amazing. As always.
Just Got Back
Long Time Coming
Clock Strikes Ten
He’s a Whore
Need Your Love
Taxman, Mr. Thief
You Got It Going On
If You Want My Love
No Direction Home
Never Had a Lot to Lose
Stop This Game
I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover)
(Tom Petersson on lead vocals – with ‘Heroin’ snippet)
I Know What I Want
I Want You to Want Me