The house lights dimmed to the rumbling introduction of Cheap Trick’s “Stop This Game,” while founding bassist Tom Petersson and new drummer Daxx Nielsen mounted the stage; the former clad in charcoal tones, while the latter sported a black T-shirt. Then, as vocalist Robin Zander appeared in a white suit and matching hat, the capacity crowd lost all restraint.
To the cheers of hundreds of fans, the rockers tore into their opener; 1977’s “Hello There.” The ensuing frenzy nearly morphed into a mosh pit, as guitarist Rick Nielsen — in a black cap and suit — dished out his signature licks. Without missing a beat, the group transitioned into “Long Time No See Ya” from the group’s latest album, this year’s “Bang Zoom Crazy … Hello.”
The band was on form and rocking harder than it did two years prior at a gig at Shibuya’s O-East venue. Maybe it was because the members are coming off some highs this year, in particular its April induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As Zander sang from the edge of the stage, he gave off a kind of rock god swagger that’s rare these days. Maybe it was just his moves in combination with Rick’s guitar riffs that brought about some nostalgia for me though.
As the fourth song ended, Rick introduced his band as, “Cheap Trick, for those who don’t already know.” He also thanked Jeff Beck — both for lending him his guitar, and for not taking it back. Most noted for their absence were his multi-necked guitars; replaced by classic axes, adding extra vintage tone.
Harkening back to the 1970s, both the drummer and bassist took a solo — Petersson’s was mostly meditative, whereas Daxx’s spanned a gamut of techniques. Notwithstanding his solo, the latter kept a low profile and mostly mirrored the band’s classic tracks, while bettering the founding drummer in terms of timing.
Following the hit song “I Want You to Want Me,” Zander wished the crowd a good night. Chanting and clapping for an encore, though the audience wasn’t ready to let go of its ’70s fix quite yet
Within minutes, a spotlit Rick inquired, “Does that mean you want more?” in a gruff voice. Cheap Trick then pulled out the 1978 hit “Surrender” from the album “Heaven Tonight,” inserting a breakdown where the singer and the audience took turns singing the lyric “We’re all alright” — a token of comfort in the madness of this year.
Ending with its signature “Goodnight” song, the band thanked the audience and took a collective bow. Leaving the stage to the AC/DC anthem “It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).” Luckily for us, the path to rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t nearly as arduous.
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