At the Event Center in the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem on Nov. 24, Cheap Trick was announced as "the best band" in the world. While that might be braggadocio open to debate, the group's consistently great live shows certainly can attest that it is one of the contenders for that title. Every time Cheap Trick hits the stage, they deliver every song like it matters, something that they did once again on Saturday night.
Nowadays Cheap Trick presents two kinds of concerts, a greatest hits show -- typified by the inclusion of "The Flame" in the set list -- which they tend to play when opening for bands like Aerosmith; and a show aimed at Cheap Trick aficionados that tends to mix up some hits with deeper album tracks. On Saturday, the band presented the latter to the baby boomer audience attending the show. Indeed, at one point during the set, guitarist and the band's sound architect Rick Nielsen asked the audience about the song selection, "Is that obscure enough for you?" Nielsen then reported that the song selection was aided by "That Metal Show" host Eddie Trunk, who apparently was in attendance at the show.
While Cheap Trick may have played deeper cuts like "Come On, Come On," "Down," "High Roller," "California Man," "Auf Wiedersehen," "He's A Whore," "I Know What I Want," and "Look Out," the band still played it safe in sticking to their first five albums, the four studio albums and "At Budoken" -- their most well known and beloved albums.
Cheap Trick -- which still consists of three original members, singer and guitarist Robin Zander, bassist Tom Petersson, Nielsen and Nielsen's son Daxx on drums, only played two songs, the title track from "Woke Up With A Monster," and "Tonights Its You," from the 12 studio albums it has released since 1980. That's surprising as Cheap Trick is one of the few veteran bands still making good albums as witnessed by their last two efforts, "Rockford," and "The Latest."
While the audience enjoyed the deeper tracks from the band's early albums, they definitely were thrilled to hear the band deliver sterling versions of their classic tracks: "I Want You To Want Me," "Voices," "Dream Police," "Surrender" and their version of "Ain't That A Shame."
While Nielsen's onstage caricature of an ersatz Hunts Hall nowadays seems a little strange in light of the fact that is son is watching all from behind the drum kit, his guitar playing prowess continues to power the band to new heights in every show. But the other real delight is watching Zander -- who can belt it out in one song and be as melodic as the best 1960s pop singers in the next -- still retain every nuance and all the sheer power of his considerable vocal abilities 35 years into the band's career.