Monday, 13 June 2011
821 CHEAP TRICK, Plead The Fifth, Bristol O2 Academy, Sunday 12 June 2011
The retro June continues, with yet another band of old codgers (!); this time veteran powerpop boys Cheap Trick, exactly 7 months after their last UK outing, which itself followed an absence of 6 years! Nevertheless, da Trick are always great value and entertainment “live”, and even more so given this gig would be the first time (in 7) that I’d seen these grizzled US rock long-stayers outside of London! I’d booked this one some time ago for Rach and myself, but then The Wild Swans gig was added to the Rose itinerary, and Rach decided she couldn’t really do both. Luckily similar old rocker Beef stepped in at short notice, so he and I bopped down to Brizzle in the drizzle.
Hit the venue just after 8; a disappointingly low early turnout of the usual ranks of hoary old rock casualties and medieval roadie types for da Trick. Nevertheless, we early comers were treated to a support slot from ridiculously young ruffians Plead The Fifth. Whilst quite enjoying their spunky powerpop thrills, which I found similar to The Click Five whilst also skirting around Orange County nu-punk/emo territory , Beef and I also noted that the bouffant-haired bassist and the bespectacled drummer looked like quite like me and him, 30 years ago!
We got a drink in, then resumed our good viewing spot, stage right for once (!), for the entrance of da Trick at 9 pm. Again, the cut-up intro tape featured Homer Simpson and Apoo extolling the virtues of this classic band, before a young female voice announced, “please welcome to the stage the greatest fucking rock’n’roll band you’ll ever see… Cheap Trick!” By this time the venue had filled up, although was by no means full, but da Trick received a rapturous welcome as they burst full-on into the chugging badass boogie of “Just Got Back”. Vocalist Robin Zander, resplendent in embroidered military jacket which was soon discarded to reveal a black wet-look shirt, and a black general’s peaked cap which remained in situ throughout, was on top form from the outset, stretching his elastic larynx through an excellent early “California Man”, then the outstanding, definitive descending-bassline driven, “I Want You To Want Me”, which was an early set highlight.
“We’ve written this set-list especially for…you!” announced the supreme showman and band leader, guitarist Rick Nielsen, showering guitar picks as usual into the appreciative audience, as they strode through soaring new power ballad “These Days”. Similar lighters-held-aloft classic “Tonight It’s You” was superb, the hook as big as the venue, and subsequent “On Top Of The World” was an unexpected slab of mutant surf rock, rounding off an opening half hour of old-school rock and powerpop as good as they’ve ever delivered.
The band then introduced their European Fan-club Chairman onstage, who took the opportunity to propose to his girlfriend – sorry mate, we did that 7 years ago! For me, the set wavered thereafter, whilst still maintaining its' muscular power and pace and trademark grand, if slightly overblown and preposterous, rock riffs and huge choruses. However set closer and all-time powerpop classic “Surrender”, with its’ helium hookline and strident singalong outro, saw them roaring back with a vengeance, and encores “Dream Police” (always a favourite of mine to shout along to), a rocking “Clock Strikes Ten” and “Goodnight Ladies And Gentlemen” put the exclamation point on a 1½ hour set of fine pure old school rock.
Grabbed another set-list to make my evening. Another great retro June night, thanks to Cheap Trick!