Cheap Trick Live in Oklahoma
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
June 7, 2012
By Jeb Wright
Hello There | Elo Kiddies | California Man | Clock Strikes Ten | Ain’t That a Shame | On Top of the World | Don’t Be Cruel | I Know What I Want | Need Your Love | Stop This Game | The Flame | I Want You to Want Me | Out in the Street (Theme to That 70’s Show) | Sick Man of Europe | Surrender
Gonna Raise Hell | Drum Solo | Dream Police | Goodnight Now
After audio snippets praising Cheap Trick from Homer Simpson and Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the PA system announced, in a sexy female voice, “Please welcome the best fucking rock band you’ve ever seen…Cheap Trick!” With that, the band blasted into their famous intro, which first appeared on 1977’s In Color, titled “Hello There.” This is without a doubt the best way for a band to take the stage, as the song serves as a rockin’ introduction to the crowd and gives the sound guys a couple of minutes to make sure everything is correctly dialed in.
Next up was a great surprise, all the way from their eponymous debut, the band performed “Elo Kiddies.” This is a great song that showcases all of Cheap Trick’s uniqueness. From guitarist Rick Nielsen’s quirky suit, cap and sneakers to vocalist Robin Zander’s leather pants, red coat and bad-ass hat, Cheap Trick ekes of originality – sort of. They are their own band for sure, but when asked if Cheap Trick really wanted to be the Beatles, Rick told this writer, “Our producer Tom Werman wanted us to be the Who, but we wanted to be the Sex Pistols!” Maybe it is this combination of odd musical personalities mixed with such misspent ambition that created the bands’ sound in the first place!
Cheap Trick has never been afraid to put their spin on other’s tunes, performed this evening were several remakes, including “California Man,” originally by The Move, “Ain’t That a Shame” by Pat Boone and “Don’t Be Cruel” by Elvis Presley. It was the early Trick tunes, however, that stole the show. “Clock Strikes Ten” and “Top of the World” were unexpected treasures from Trick’s early days. Two album cuts from the classic Dream Police album were also performed. “Gonna Raise Hell” and “Need Your Love” are two of the best Cheap Trick has to offer. “Need Your Love” came across especially well, as Nielsen added some guitar muscle to the song that really took the tune over the edge. A rare performance of “Stop This Game” from 1980’s All Shook Up was also a well received treat.
“The Flame” was introduced by Nielsen who stated, “This was a number one song around the world. In fact, it was even number one in Oklahoma…so…thank you.” Other hits included “I Want You to Want Me” and “Surrender.” “Out in the Street” ended with Nielsen saying, “Hello Oklahoma” instead of the TV theme song’s home of Wisconsin.
One new song, “Sick Man of Europe” from Trick’s latest studio effort The Latest was performed proving that Cheap Trick is one of only a few classic bands whose new music stands well alongside anything from their past catalog.
Bassist Tom Petersson was given the spotlight for “I Know What I Want,” another song from Dream Police. His vocals are not quite as crisp as they once were, but he hung in there and gave it his all. The tune, itself, is a great one, as the chord changes in the verses build up to a smashing chorus, leaving only those without a soul able to sit still in the audience. Nielsen, once again, became the focal point of the song, cranking out a danceable solo.
When the band left the stage, everyone knew the evening was not over. The bass notes of “Gonna Raise Hell” thundered throughout the concert hall as Robin Zander returned to the stage with his hat off, showing off his long blonde locks. It must be noted that Zander is still on top of his game, from the shrieks of “mother” in “Gonna Raise Hell” to hitting the high note in “The Flame” this man continues to be one of the best vocalists in rock and roll.
What came next, however, had nothing to with vocals. Petersson and touring drummer Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son, remained onstage. As the bass droned, Daxx played along. Eventually, the younger Nielsen took over and played a drum solo that had everyone on their feet. The drummer played intricate rhythms that sent the sound into the stratosphere before the rest of the band returned to the stage with the opening notes of “Dream Police.” The evening ended with the same notes it began with, only this time, “Hello There” was replaced with “Goodnight Now.” Rick Nielsen showered the crowd with guitar picks as the audience yelled out for more.
This was a special headlining show, the like of which will be rare this year as Cheap Trick is heading out on tour opening for Aerosmith in the summer of 2012. If this night in Tulsa is any indication, fans will get their moneys worth, as Trick is still, after all of these years, on top of their game.