It’s a staggering 32 years since Cheap Trick last played the capitol city of Wales, and whilst I’ve seen the band a good few times since that Motley Crue support slot it was their return to Cardiff that meant for the first time in many a year I not only snapped up a ticket for this show in double quick time but I’m also queuing early doors in the pouring rain outside one of my least favourite venues just to make sure I don’t miss a note. Ever the fan boy eh!
I’m glad I did too because tonight really does belong to the boys from Rockford. Playing a tight and sadly shorter set than I’ve come to expect from the band they still manage to change things around set list wise from the previous two nights (I just couldn’t resist a sneaky peak online beforehand) slotting in the sublime ‘Big Eyes’ and a crowd pleasing ‘The Flame’ as tonight’s curveballs around the rest of the set – which effectively plays out like a greatest hits of Cheap Trick.
The addition of Robin Zander’s son Robin Zander Jnr on second guitar and backing vocals certainly adds a new dimension to the band, one which allows his father to make full use of the ego ramp and concentrate on hitting all the right notes, something the 65 year old still does with the utmost of ease. Whilst behind the kit Daxx Nielsen has become as much a feature of Cheap Trick these past seventeen or so years as the legendary Bun E Carlos. And whilst legendary is a term bandied around all to easily these days when it comes to songs like ‘ If You Want My Love’, ‘I Want You To Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Surrender’ right here in these four songs you have perhaps the very cornerstones of many a subsequent musical genres. Without this band there would certainly be no power pop, there would be no hair metal and perhaps maybe even no alt-rock or grunge so when Kliph Scurlock takes to the drums for a song tonight everything comes kinda full circle and I feel honoured to witness such a magical one-off event.
Ending their ten song set with ‘Goodnight Now’ Rick Nielsen’s ludicrous multi neck guitar once again makes a long overdue appearance on a Welsh stage before it’s all over in the blink of an eye. Short and sweet this might have been but I adored every single sugar coated second of it, long may the Trick shine on.
Having witnessed the tail end of Def Leppard’s 25th anniversary tour for the ‘Hysteria’ album at Hellfest five years ago I was certainly interested in seeing what the band might do to top that stealing performance this time around.
Okay there’s a few small changes – there’s no Def Leppard supporting themselves “deep dive” archive set to start things off, plus (and this bit does seem strange) there’s no repeat of the intro film that they used to set the scene for what was about to follow, but what we do get tonight is the twelve song, bazillion copy selling, album played out in sequence in meticulous detail and boy does it sound good. How can you critique arena rock perfection? You can’t, you just have to simply accept that songs like ‘Animal’, ‘Armageddon It’ and ‘Gods Of War’ (noticeably now devoid of the Mrs T outro speech) were written for “Sold Out” nights like tonight and whatever you think of Def Leppard you cannot deny these guys have achieved a phenomenal amount in their time together as a band and tonight they have simply never looked happier – especially with the ecstatic crowd response.
Moving the “deep dive” section to the encores (ah! I see what you did their guys) and noting that on previous nights classics like ‘Wasted’ and ‘Let It Go’ have been given an airing I have to admit that tonight’s opening selection of ‘Make Love Like A Man’ ‘When Love And Hate Collide’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ kind of leave me feeling like I’d been dealt a bum hand, I mean am I the only one who’d have preferred to hear ‘When Saturday Comes’ at this point? Ha! Look, I’ve still got the game changing ‘Rock Of Ages’ and the always awesome ‘Photograph’ so I’m always going to leave here tonight with a smile on my face, just like pretty much everyone else, it’s just that deep down inside I wish Da Lepps would have done a 35th year anniversary of the album those classics came from instead.
Ah well, you can always dream…