VIENNA, Virginia, June 26, 2015 — Cheap Trick’s Wolf Trap Filene Center appearance had fans on “Top of the World” eager to “Surrender” to the world’s most famous power pop rock band Tuesday night.
Cheap Trick – Robin Zander, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson and Daxx Nielsen offered near 90 minutes of music covering songs from its incredible 42 years of existence.
And for this Chicago girl, opened up memories that could only be re-energized by real rock n’ roll.
With its standard opener “Hello There” vocalist Robin Zander belted out the lyrics “are you ready to rock?” and the roller coaster was in full motion.
Nattily dressed in a pink linen zoot suit and chapeau with a feather sticking out of it, Zander could have been the long lost mid-western cousin of Stanley Ipkiss’ alter ego, however north of 60, Zander is still much, much more appealing and talented.
He offered the perfect counterpoint to the demented Bowery Boy and the “man of a million guitars,” axe-master Rick Nielsen (just how many guitars does he have? I lost count).
Dressed in all black, Nielsen stalked the stage all night flicking picks at fans with deadly accuracy and showcased some beautiful instruments including that weighty 5-neck beast.
He also pulled out a fun little double-necked guitar named Uncle Dick and shaped, as well as dressed, like an earlier iteration of its owner.
Co-inventor of the 12-string electric bass and original member Tom Petersson helped anchor the bottom end, dressed like a Mountie no less, with help from drummer Daxx Nielsen.
The band worked through many a hit, 19 songs in total including “Surrender,” the surprising “Southern Girls,” “Ain’t That a Shame” and the Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour.”
It’s important to note that despite being 62-years-old, and with over 5,000 performances under his belt, Mr. Zander voice sounded like it was coming out of 25-year old vocal chords.
If you closed your eyes during “I Want You to Want me,” the crooning sounded near exactly like his performance on the band’s breakthrough album “Cheap Trick at Budokan.’ from 1978.
If that feat was not amazing enough, he stressed his voice time and time again on soaring hits such “Voices,” the band’s chart topping hit from 1988 “The Flame” and “On Top of the World.” It never cracked.
I’ll also mention, in nostalgia, the loss of Bun E. Carlos on drums. The stoic, well-dressed, cigarette dangling stalwart was a mainstay for the colorful band for decades until replaced by Mr. Nielsen’s son Daxx in 2010.
No disrespect to Daxx, he is a competent player, but looks more like a young fan getting the chance to play some amazing songs from his favorite band rather than an eclectic member of Cheap Trick.
Oddest moment of the set came during the end when the band looked like it was leaving the stage after a blistering version of “Dream Police” but huddled around the drum kit and Mr. Zander announced the drummer said they could play a few more songs.
Of course, “Surrender” eventually followed but they also played the “Auf Wiedersehen” that clearly answered the question “who invented grunge?” (hint – it happened in Chicago, not Seattle)
The tune ended with both Mr. Zander and Mr. Nielsen mimicking hanging themselves on stage, a bit of Alice Cooper inspired drama.
Multiple shirts in the crowd echoed the cry of Cheap Trick fans everywhere asking when Cheap Trick will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It’s a worthy question for the members of the nominating committee and they should stop screwing around. Cheap Trick is of one of America’s indigenous rock treasures.
After the exit by the blast furnace named Cheap Trick, some guy name Peter Frampton took the stage.
Wait, it was the Grammy-winning Peter Frampton, guitar god from the 1970s who stopped by to offer a close to 90 minute set mostly composed of songs from his massive 1976 album “Frampton Comes Alive!”
With the blonde locks gone but vocal chords strong and fingers more agile than ever at the not quite ripe age of 65 (the new 27 Frampton exhaulted), he worked through the big hits, ” Show Me The Way,” ” Baby I Love Your Way,” and ” Do You Feel Like We Do.”
With a four piece band on stage highlighted by original bassist Stanley Sheldon and the dueling guitar leads from Adam Lester, he even tossed in some classic and contemporary covers including Stevie Wonder’s ” Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours ” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.”
Cheap Trick Set List
Come On, Come On
On Top of the World
Magical Mystery Tour
You’re All Talk
Baby Loves to Rock
I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover)
I Want You to Want Me
Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)