Cheap Trick has been rocking stages large and small since the '70s, and there are few classic-rock bands as consistently engaging than the dudes from Rockford, Illinois.
You know you're going to hear a bunch of their classic tunes. You can plan on lead singer Robin Zander having a surprisingly strong voice even at age 65. You can bet lead guitarist Rick Nielsen's ridiculous five-neck guitar is going to make an appearance. You know bass player Tom Petersson is more than likely the best-looking dude in the venue (and that he'll play some mean 12-string bass, the instrument he invented). And you can count on the fact the band will play its only No.-1 hit, "The Flame," even though many hardcore Cheap Trick fans will grumble that it's not "real" Cheap Trick.
Even knowing largely what you're in for, Cheap Trick still finds ways to throw some surprises in, though, and they did just that Tuesday at Northern Quest Resort & Casino. The biggest was probably when Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament joined the band to play some guitar on "Surrender," but Cheap Trick also threw a couple of new songs in the set ("You Got It Going On" and "The Summer Looks Good On You"). And while Nielsen's son Daxx has been playing drums with the band for nearly a decade now, Zander's son Robin Zander Jr., played rhythm guitar throughout Tuesday's show, making Cheap Trick even more of a family affair.
The band also surprised me with its choice of cover tunes, always a staple of their shows. They of course did their take on Fats Domino's "Ain't That A Shame," but they also tackled the Move's "California Man" and Velvet Underground's "I'm Waiting for the Man," sung by Petersson.
I've seen Cheap Trick a few times, and the real treat for me Tuesday was getting to hear "She's Tight" and "Never Had a Lot to Lose," a couple of their '80s tunes I hadn't seen them do live before.
Here's the Cheap Trick setlist from Tuesday's show:
1. "Hello There"
2. "You Got It Going On"
3. "Big Eyes"
4. "California Man"
5. "If You Want My Love"
6. "She's Tight"
7. "On Top of the World"
8. "Ain't That a Shame"
9. "The Summer Looks Good on You"
10. "I'm Waiting for the Man"
11. "The Flame"
12. "I Want You To Want Me"
13. "Dream Police"
14. "Never Had A Lot To Lose"
16. "Goodnight Now"
Joan Jett hit the stage after Cheap Trick and was definitely up to the task of following her fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. After kicking of her set with one of her lesser known tunes, "Victim of Circumstance," she proceeded to head right into the Runaways' classic "Cherry Bomb," an insistent piece of ear candy that still packs a punch.
Veering between her monster hits ("I Love Rock and Roll," "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)," "Bad Reputation") and newer, less-famous tunes ("Fake Friends," "Love is Pain"), the original riot grrrl proved still full of the punky spirit that propelled her to start her own label and take control of her career post-teen stardom with the Runaways. Great stuff, and I wish I could have gotten a photo pass for Jett, too, but it wasn't to be.
Here are a few more Cheap Trick photos from the show: