Concert Review: Cheap Trick

Pearl at the Palms, June 15

Cheap Trick at Budokan is rightfully part of rock’s stratosphere, and “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me” are among my favorite sing-along tunes. But even their inclusion couldn’t get this show up to screaming-Japanese-schoolgirl expectations. Performing after quality warm-up act Brynn Marie and sizzling co-headliners Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Cheap Trick’s hyperbolic cheap tricks began with the recorded assurance that we were about to witness “the best fucking rock band you’ve ever seen” and were followed by Rick Nielsen’s usual parade of novelty guitar bodies culminating with his signature five-neck monstrosity. Robin Zander’s silvery Sgt. Pepper getup and Tom Petersson’s glittery 12-string bass completed their stock goofery. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against wacky gear or funny antics, but when the crowd just isn’t feeling it, all the flash and guitar-pick confetti ain’t gonna get it done. After “Hello There,” That ’70s Show cover of Big Star’s “In the Street” and the prescient “Ain’t That a Shame,” the set plodded downward until it reached its nadir with the numbing “Need Your Love.” Shortly afterward Nielsen queried the thinning crowd, “Why is it so fucking quiet in here?” A few grumbled “Surrender” requests popped out in response. And yeah, they did get to the aforementioned sing-along hits, including another of my favorites, “Dream Police,” but by that time, all but the die-hards just wanted to head out. ★★☆☆☆

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