The Southern Berks News
Cheap Trick embodies the youthful spirit of rock and roll
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick is engrained into the DNA of rock and roll much like grooves of a vinyl record because of a relentless touring schedule that leaves cities conquered in their wake.
The quartet from Rockford, Illinois has survived a highly volatile business built on fickle consumers’ ever-changing tastes, and harsh lessons taught by an industry notorious for treating artists unkindly.
This month Chip Trick’s recent battlefield was an intimate downtown theater in Berks County.
Lead singer Robin Zander, sporting pants populated with sequined-stars, makes his way to the stage of the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading. With a swagger worthy of his persona, Zander pulls the brim of his hat down to his eyebrows and approaches his weapon of choice — the microphone.
Guitarist Rick Nielsen, dressed head-to-toe in black, materializes from the opposite direction and makes his presence known with a power chord.
Nielsen’s son Daxx pounces on the drums and Zander releases the microphone from its stand and the band belts out “Hello There.”
With lyrics asking the crowd if they’re ready to rock, Cheap Trick rocks with “He’s a Whore” from 1977s self-titled debut release and “Lookout” from 1978s “Cheap Trick at Budokan.”
Front row center is an audio assault of crunchy guitars and big amplifiers. My attention is fully on the band despite the ravenous behavior of a crowd hungry to see their music heroes. A flurry of activity to either side of me and a balcony that feels like it is swaying back and forth to the music’s rhythm can’t compete with the explosion of energy on stage.
Zander is the quintessential rock front man, tall, long hair and good looking. He doesn’t rely on gimmicks or banal banter, choosing instead to make an impression with his voice. Cocksure he walks the stage, hypnotizing everyone.
Nielsen is rock’s poet laureate contributing to the band’s creative efforts both as a chief songwriter and virtuoso. The mischievous schoolboy with an impish smile bounces around Zander serving as the singer’s foil. Behind tinted specs, his eyes bounce between the fretboard and audience. He throws guitar picks by the handful to those hopeful that some of the talent might rub off on them.
Cheap Trick embodies the youthful spirit of rock and roll.
Mayda Keister, 10, and Kerrianys Keister, 9, from Jonestown dressed in checkered patterned clothes, Cheap Trick’s motif. The band noticed their show of fandom and invited them on stage. I ask them, “What was your favorite thing about the show and why do you like Cheap Trick?” Mayda exclaims,
“My favorite thing about Cheap Trick is their outfits and the guitars,” said Mayda after the show. “They are awesome. They are the best band ever!”
“I like their outfits and how they sing,” said Kerrianys.
With each song, the 19-track set list reveals itself to be planned with the precision of a military campaign, where victory is the only option. Most of the music was drawn from the earlier catalogue: “In Color,” “Budokan” and “Heaven Tonight.”
“Big Eyes,” “California Man” and “On Top of the World” are all rockers that form the backbone of the show. Robin, Rick, Daxx and Robin Taylor Zander (Robin Zander’s son who has filled in on bass for Tom Petersson) keep the momentum going.
“Ain’t That a Shame,” a Fats Domino cover, propels the band to rev up the engine to the red line they trade guitar licks.
Daxx absolutely kills “Light Up The Fire,” a cut from the new album “In Another World,” awash in a sea of cymbal crashes and fills.
Robin Taylor Zander, or RTZ as he is known by fans, takes the spotlight when he sings lead vocals on “Downed” and delivers in dividends.
Robin Zander now moves to the front of the stage with an acoustic guitar. As the lights come down low a blue hue, he strums the first bars of “The Flame,” the only slow tempo number of the night.
Zander’s voice hits all the high notes at the crescendo and it’s hard to imagine how the band can top this until a trio of signature hits “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender” obliterates the audience.
Rodeo Marie Hanson of Fleetwood is a teen columnist specializing in coverage of entertainment events and celebrity interviews. Follow Rodeo’s Drive-Thru Hollywood News on Facebook at https:// www.facebook.com/rdthn/ and on her YouTube Channel Rodeo’s Hollywood Drive-Thru News at https://www.youtube.com/ channel/UC5zPmRRqa9HK_-Z9G9OPGA.