Sunday, 6 February 2011

798 CHEAP TRICK, Shepherd's Bush Empire, Friday 12 November 2010

Gig-vember continues apace with 2 shows in 3 days with Rachel, from a couple of perennial live favourites. First Cheap Trick, although prior to setting off, this had become more of an obligatory than anticipated show; booked ages ago, we'd seen this gig month get increasingly busier and had to forego other, potentially more interesting gigs (including Ash and The Crimea at this venue tomorrow, which annoyed Rach somewhat) as we'd already got tix for this! Still, we kept faith with our old faves da Trick, and set off at 6 on a drizzly Friday night, hitting the Uxbridge Road just after 8 and eventually finding a parking spot.

Had to queue to get in! Clearly the last-minute announcement of no support and an early start (8.15) had caught people on the hop, but we nevertheless had enough time to get in and get drinks in, then squirm away from the heaving bar to an only slightly less squashed floor location, before da Trick's 8.30 arrival to a packed crowd.

Recent "Classic Rock" honourees Cheap Trick (hence the reason for this tour) came on to entrance music of a collage of various Japanese radio intros and other odd bits, including Homer Simpson saying, "I'd rather listen to Cheap Trick," and fellow Simpsons character Apoo singing "Dream Police"! It's been 6 years since we'd last seen these grizzled rock veterans, and indeed da Trick's 36th year of touring and making music, and they were wearing their experience in their faces, blond vocalist Robin Zander in particular having aged noticeably of late. However, that didn't stop them easing into their blend of riff-heavy 70's rock, bar-room blues, strident power balladry and muscular punchy powerpop with easy confidence. Purveyors of at least half a dozen all-time classic songs deserving of a place at rock's top table, we had to sit through some unfamiliar though no-less enjoyable material (particularly the fast-rocking "Lookout"), until the first of these arrived, the huge stately ballad of "Tonight It's You". "I Want You To Want Me" rollicked in straight after, a romper-stomper with THE definitive descending bassline, and was my set highlight. At least, it was, right up until set closer, the all-time powerpop classic, "Surrender", which was delivered perfectly tonight and brought the house down. A sinuous, lengthy encore of "Ain't That A Shame" led into final number "Dream Police", another classic, helium powered powerpop tune, and a perfect way to end a splendid, good time rock'n'roll show.

"Can we have the lights up please, I want to say hello to some friends... hello everyone, you're all our friends!" said guitarist Rick Neilsen midway through, and Cheap Trick again reinforced their rapport with their audience, defying the years to put on another great show. Don't leave it 6 years next time, boys!

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