Monday, April 29, 2013

Cheap Trick's "Live at Budokan" 35th Anniversary Concert...

A couple of days ago, I learned that Cheap Trick was going to be playing a gig in honor of the 35th anniversary of their mega-hit album, “Cheap Trick Live at Budokan”. Very cool. Even cooler, the performance was going to stream live online via the web site, ‘Livestream’. (The only other live event I have tuned into on the net was the ’09 performance of U2 at the Rose Bowl that was streamed on YouTube…a great show it was.) I have heard of Livestream, so I followed the link on my Facebook newsfeed. After a quick sign-up (a requirement for watching the Budokan show), I was good to go. Sunday, April 28th, 8:00 PM/EST, at the John Varvatos Bowery boutique in New York City.

I had to work Sunday, and didn’t get out of there until a few minutes to 8:00. I was a bit ‘late to the party’, but tuned in when Robin Zander was intro-ing “Need Your Love”. Before I get to my mini-review of the show, I’m going to travel back for a moment…

In the late 1970’s to 1980’s, I was in high school. Music was of great interest to me, and I can safely say that while some teenagers were spending time glued to the television, I was frequently listening to music while drawing, etc. Some of my favorite bands during those days were RUSH, The Who, and…you guessed it…Cheap Trick. The first album of theirs that I could call my “intro” to them was, “Heaven Tonight”. It was the 1979 release of “Live at Budokan” that cemented their position on my favorites list. The “Dream Police” album (also released in 1979) didn’t hurt either.

(Left to right: Robin Zander, Bun E. Carlos, Rick Nielsen, Tom Petersson)
Seeing the Facebook announcement for the anniversary gig reminded me of the time I had seen them in concert. Initially, I remembered catching them at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, for their “Dream Police” tour. I saved a number of old ticket stubs from back then, so I dug them out in search of the Fox stub. It appears that I misplaced it, but I do have the stub from another show I completely forgot about. It is for their “All Shook Up” tour in 1981, at the Omni.

My memories of seeing them in person are great ones. They really knew how to put on a show. All were skilled musicians, and Robin had great pipes. (He was extremely easy on the eyes, too.) They hold a permanent spot on my short list of great concerts.

Back to Livestream, and the concert of last night. As I already mentioned, I had to work Sunday afternoon, so I had to tune in to the show already in progress. Judging by a set list I found, I came in a little more than halfway through. The feed quality was better than expected. The sound was also good.  
(Left to right: Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander, Daxx Nielsen (in back), Tom Petersson)
As all of us do, the boys have aged. Rather well for the most part. Rick Nielsen (guitar) still looks as geeky as he used to, and is still rather hyper on stage. He bounded around, his bejeweled bow tie that said ‘BUDOKAN’ glinting in the stage lights. Tom Petersson (bass guitar) still looks pretty much the same, and was quite a bit more reserved than Nielsen. Then there was Robin, one of my huge fan-crushes from the past…
(Robin now...)
Robin Zander (lead vocals, guitar) has aged very well. For 60, he looks great. Still has maintained his stage persona. Still has his long blond hair. He hasn’t ballooned like other guys of his age. He’s still a good looking guy. Now for his voice…

(Robin then...)
I was doing some date checking via Google, and came across a Rolling Stone review of the streamed show. Their assessment was glowing. I am assuming they were at the actual venue, and didn’t watch it online like I had. That being said, it pains me to say that I was a little disappointed. “Need Your Love” was the first song I saw/heard, and there were times I found it painful to listen to. There is a bit of falsetto-ish singing Robin does during the tune, and…well...let's just say that some sour notes were hit. He did okay on other tunes. I just think it would’ve been wiser to stick with songs within the range he can still handle. Maybe he was having an off night.  I dunno. Seeing him on stage caused me to mentally regress a bit. To remember seeing him in the past. Looking down on him from the Fox Theater balcony, trying not to drool on the fans below. In the overall sense, I was glad to catch what I did.

There was one major discrepancy in my Cheap Trick experience. Bun E. Carlos was not in attendance. The gentleman who was there pounding the skins was Rick Nielsen’s son, Daxx. He did a fine job, but Bun E.’s absence left a hole. I think it did for a lot of long time Trick fans. I did some more Googling to try and find some explanation. All the info I found was from Bun E.’s side of things. He still considers himself a member of the band, and I didn’t find anything to say the others didn’t feel the same way. There does appear to be some bad blood though. Don’t know what it would stem from. Bun E. says that they asked him to take a hiatus, and so far it looks to have lasted a couple of years. Trying to find any clues as to what the feelings of the rest of the band are was like looking for the proverbial needle in a hay stack. I won’t lose any sleep over it, but I am curious to know the whole story.

My little criticisms aside, I’m glad I got to catch what I did. Cheap Trick is still rockin’ it out...hopefully, they will get the entire original line-up together some time in the not too distant future... 

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