Wednesday, 17 February 2010

582 CHEAP TRICK, Salford Jets, London Royal Albert Hall, Thursday 13 March 2003

The longest between-gig break since 1983 is now over! I'm now suitably recovered from my recent abdominal surgery to be able to go to gigs again. And I couldn't think of a better way to start (a trip to Boston excepted) than Cheap Trick at the Royal Albert Hall! Particularly so, since this ticket was courtesy of my brother, thanks to a promise made while I was in ICU that he would pay for the gig if I recovered enough to actually go!

So, Rachel and I made a couple of days of it, coaching up and staying nearby. So we walked to the gig, taking our good floor seats, stage right, about 7.15 in this huge amphitheatre. The Salford Jets were first up; an old punk rock band from Manchester who'd recently reformed, they were unfortunately in the Sham 69 ham-fisted "Oi Oi" punk mode, despite conversely appearing to be very good musicians, especially the guitarist. They ended with their only chart-bothering record, which was called "Who You Looking At?". Need I say more?

From the ridiculous to the sublime; da Trick came on at 9 to "Good Evening Ladies And Gentlemen" and a subsequent, titanic "Big Eyes", before launching into a Greatest Hits set interspersed with a couple of new numbers ("only a couple - we want you to play them in your houses," said Rick Neilsen) from their forthcoming album, and doing what they do best, namely entertaining this sell-out crowd supremely!

An early "If You Want My Love" was spine-chillingly epic, and for me remained the overall highlight of the set, but the anthemic "Tonight It's You" and the always-brilliant rush of "Surrender", which closed the set and featured Rick's 5-neck guitar (!), ran it close. To think that for a long time I'd dismissed this band as a metal "hair" band, rather than the epic powerpop kings they undoubtedly are! First encore "Dream Police" had everyone in the seats up on their feet, and we were lost for superlatives after a brilliant 1 1/2 hours of top drawer rock. Cheap Trick - what a way to return to gig duty!

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