Sunday, March 08, 2015

Cheap Trick at the 3rd Street Stage on Fremont Street, Saturday Mar 7, 2015

It has been quite a while since I have seen a major band play on Fremont Street, so was a bit surprised by the extra security added and the fact the the area in front of the stage was barricaded off, herding the people in through a small opening - meaning a long, very slow line. Access to drinks was minimal, as well - also quite surprising - and generally nowhere near as easy going as it had been in the past. Not sure if this was just because it was a NASCAR weekend (I think) or if this is the way they do it now, but not as fun as it once was.

Still, we got to see Cheap Trick for free and they are still great! Unfortunately, incredible drummer Bun E. Carlos is no longer with them and his presence is sorely missed. Rick's son has taken over the drum stool and he is a fine rock drummer, and he does sing, but does not have Carlos' style or groove (or fashion sense!). The sound at the stage is also a little funky, with heavy bass and drums and nowhere near enough emphasis on the guitars, which tended to be a bit muddy. But, enough complaints - the songs were there and the band looked and sounded pretty darn amazing!

While there are always some songs that you wish they played, the 2 hour set was quite strong, opening with - of course - "Hello There", moving into "Big Eyes" (that was a treat!) and "Hello Kiddies" - each song with a new guitar for Rick and Robin! Rick doesn't throw his guitars across the stage to his roadies any more, and, naturally, he has slowed down, but is still a showman and Robin is still r'n'r thin and stylish and hadn't lost anything in his incredible voice. Bassist Tom still has his distinctive 12 string bass, which is a big part of their sound, and he still gets to do his tune "I Know What I Want".

Guitarswere exchanged on nearly every number, and Robin took a few where he just sang. Pulling a few from Budokan, we got "California Man" (with the "Brontosaurus" intro - and blinding lights in Rick's checkerboard speaker cabinets), "Ain't That a Shame" - with Rick on slide and everyone trading licks - and more. "Hot Love" is always smokin', there was some song they recorded with Todd Rundgren that I did not recognize, "Look Out", and "On Top of the World"

Robin came out with an acoustic for their cover of "Don't Be Cruel", which they say was a Top 5 hit, though I guess I wasn't listening to the radio then! Of course they had to do "She's Tight" - not terrible, but not one of their best by any means, then the ultra cool "Gimme Love", with the long intro and "Bang a Gong" references. "Southern Girls" - a fave with the fans - Tom's song - which he introduces with a bass solo - and then the dreadful "The Flame", that really brought down the momentum, though Robin tried to lighten it up a bit by starting a Neil Young song on his acoustic first.
Thankfully, they bounced back with "I Want You to Want Me" and "Dream Police", with Rick throwing out handfuls of guitar picks and Robin feigning passing out on stage with a roadie draping his jacket over his shoulders ala James Brown.

For the encore, they came back with what I can only assume was a new song and then - naturally - "Surrender" and "Goodnite Now", with Rick's 5-neck guitar and a number of fun, fake endings, bringing down the "house" (street?).

Despite missing Bun E., and the sound being iffy - it was better in some spots than others - it was still an excellent r'n'r show by an amazing band that never stopped rockin'. Always a good time and always a band to see! They posted their set list on their Facebook page.

Odd thing is that, despite the concert area being barricaded off, at some point the Fremont security was obviously letting stray folks simply wander through the barricaded area and hundreds/thousands of the drunken, People-of-Walmart, dregs of humanity passed us by with their truly unfortunate fashion choices as we tried to rock out with CT. Distracting and made us wonder why we had to stand in line, but I suppose this started at a certain time in the evening.