What would be the soundtrack to send off the shitshow that was 2016? Initially, one might think of Public Enemy or Pussy Riot or a Leonard Cohen tribute, something conducive to pumping your fists in fury and/or wringing your hands in despair. But, upon further consideration, Cheap Trick’s NYE concert at The Foundry at SLS Las Vegas was the very thing. You can’t be in a bad mood while listening to Cheap Trick, so let’s not make this about dwelling on 2016, but about kicking all that bad karma out the door and going into 2017 with our heads held high and marching to a power pop beat.
It seemed to take a few tunes for the quartet to fully hit their stride—although Robin Zander’s pipes remain solid, Rick Nielsen still brings out an endless succession of wild guitars and the whole band offers topflight musicianship. Covers included a swinging, swaggering version of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and a rendition of The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Waiting For the Man” that barreled along like a stoned freight train. “I Want You To Want Me” is still a pop gem that Ronnie Spector should record and “Surrender” is still a classic. The set did offer a surprise with a seething, sneering “He’s a Whore” that was apparently “by special request”—or maybe it was just Cheap Trick flipping one last musical middle finger at 2016. ★★★✩✩