Tuesday, 24 August 2010

379 CHEAP TRICK, Rachel Stamp, The Hormones, London Astoria, Tuesday 14 July 1998

I couldn't find anyone up for joining me for this one, but Clive wished he had, when I phoned him from Tottenham Court Road with news of the supports! Got in straight away, therefore, to catch first band The Hormones, on at a ridiculously early 7.20. A short, nervous and criminally ignored set couldn't mask a gift for lovely Beach Boys-esque harmony, ringing guitars and splendid choruses loaded with 3-part harmony. Rather like a young Teenage Fanclub, and splendid with it!

Rachel Stamp, next up, came on to a more appreciative reception from the crowd, variously made up of old rock casualties, young punks and indie kids, and married couples reliving their pasts. All colour, riot and sexual ambiguity, the Stamp were in many ways the perfect support for Cheap Trick, with their 90's take on glam metal punk recalling a more brash Placebo. Good stuff - I particularly enjoyed the "Clockwork Orange" attired female keyboardist, with "naughty night attire" clearly visible beneath her suit jacket, bowler hat and obligatory glam feather boa.

I wondered why the roadies were gaffer taping what appeared to be hundreds of guitar picks up the mike stands, outsides of speaker stacks etc. I soon found out as the Trick came on to a rapturous welcome, and proceeded to blast into glam punk classic "I Want You To Want Me". Guitarist Rick Nielsen, the loony schoolboy of legend, but now sporting a Methuselah-like goatee beard, had a habit of using then discarding said picks after mere seconds!

Well, the Trick never appealed to me first time around, as I felt that they veered too much towards glam metal for my then-buzzsaw punk tastes. However, I've since grown to love their grand rock vision and big choruses, and tonight they were magnificent. Rick was obviously the leader, introducing the band and thanking the enthusiastic crowd throughout, but Robin Zander, resplendent in purple crushed velvet suit and still sporting the trademark long blond hair, was also superb, with vocals that variously excited (as in "Southern Girls" and fine encore "Dream Police") and ached with passion (the heart-rending "Voices") in equal measure. Highlight, however, was the simply Godlike set closer "Surrender", Rick playing a 5-necked (count 'em!) guitar for this one, and the band gave this all-time classic the full-on performance it fully deserves. It was also about this time I managed to catch a couple of Rick's picks (sic) and find that not only were they personalised with an image of his face, but the same image was printed all over his reversed black and white boots!

Wonderful set - superb entertainment. Even a delayed train journey home and a 1.30 am cycle ride home from my parents (don't ask) couldn't put the dampeners on this one. God bless Cheap Trick!

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