An hourlong set wasn’t nearly long enough to encapsulate Cheap Trick’s 42 years of rock & roll pizzazz. In the pre-set audio intro, they squeezed in a Japanese lead-in to “Surrender,” reference to the Beatles, and snippets of “Dream Police” and “I Want You to Want Me,” the latter of which put the Chicagoans on the map stateside by going Top 10 in 1979.
They then waltzed onstage shredding traditional opener “Hello There.” Wearing a white suit and matching shirt, Robin Zander crowned it with a medium-brim white hat with a white feather in it. What he perhaps lacks in Eighties feathered blond hair underneath didn’t diminish his pretty-boy frontman appeal one iota.
Rick Nielsen’s quirk remains intact all these decades later, the author of “I Want You to Want Me” playing 12 guitars and with a total of 17 necks. He occasionally tossed in a few jumps, landing swiftly on his orthopedic Nikes. He wielded his signature five-neck guitar for less than a minute during “Auf Wiedersehen,” Cheap Trick’s trademark closer.
Instrumentally, Nielsen and bassist Tom Petersson’s fingers haven’t aged, and Daxx Nielsen livened up the stage in the midst of original drummer Bun E. Carlos’ absence. Yet Zander remains the show. He sings to the front row like he’s taking them all backstage afterward.
The 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees didn’t get a headlining set length, but their arena rock delivered an epic performance nonetheless.
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