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. ★★☆☆☆
A Peek at Life Is Beautiful 2017
Gorillaz are coming to Las Vegas for the first time ever. 2016’s Grammy winner for best new artist, Chance the Rapper, will return. English rockers Muse will bring their dizzying live show to the streets of Downtown. And that’s just the top of an eclectic bill that features more than 70 acts, along with comedy, interactive art installations, a group art exhibit featuring the work of Mark Ryden, Tara McPherson and Shepard Fairey and much more. Last year saw more than 137,000 attendees trod the festival footprint. Who’s ready for more?
Best of the City 2016
Our seventh annual celebration of all things Las Vegas, from the best place to fix your speeding ticket to the best Bloody Mary.