Cheap Trick @ Manchester Academy – 28 June 2017

Posted by Gig Junkies on Wednesday Jun 28, 2017 Under Pop, Rock

Review and photography by John Hayhurst.

With a 40 year back catalogue of American pop rock hits to play, Illinois Cheap Trick thrill a packed Manchester crowd who surrender to a selection of the expected and some obscure, and even some new stuff!

Cheap Trick Manchester

It has been 6 years since Cheap Trick graced a Manchester or any other UK stage and it is long overdue, they normally reserve their touring to US and Canada and rarely break out to other parts, so when only a few months ago the London date was announced and then a couple of others (Manchester and Bristol) people quickly grabbed the opportunity, as you never know when your heroes will hang up their hats.

Cheap Trick Manchester-15Cheap Trick Manchester-14

The Academy is filled with what I would call seasoned classic rock gig goers, they probably all have a collection of ticket stubs, once black and now grey tour shirts, and a vinyl copy of “Live at the Budokan’ from 1979. That live album is often highlighted by critics and fans as one of the best live records ever made and I must say, I agree and I’m standing here in my old grey tour shirt waiting for the band to appear.

Cheap Trick Manchester-11

Cheap Trick Manchester-10

After a comedy tape introduction from Homer Simpson the band walk out wearing a variety of hats and outfits, Robin Zander’s was the most outrageous in an all white ensemble including a military style peaked hat. Rick Nielson who is not shy when it comes to dressing up, looked a little more conservative in his black suit, trainers, traditional baseball cap and shaded glasses. Then we have bass player Tom Petersson in a dark grey jacket and jeans with a big hat and shades, looking like Lou Reed as a park ranger.

Expecting ‘Hello There’ as the opener, we are surprisingly given ‘Just Got Back’ instead, and as tonight’s set list unfolds you realise that they are going to shake it up a bit. We do get a different selection from the previous night in London, and many have travelled up to the North West for both shows.

Cheap Trick Manchester-9

Cheap Trick Manchester-8

New song ‘Long Time Coming’ opening riff bears more than a passing resemblance to The Kinks ‘All day and All of the Night’ but that doesn’t matter as Cheap Trick have never been afraid to borrow or cover some of their rock n roll peers tunes.

Robin Zander’s voice is clear and strong tonight, showing no sign of age deterioration and whilst Rick Nielsen’s moves might be a little less anarchic, he’s still covering all the stage pulling faces at the crowd and playing guitar solos that some new bands can only dream of.

Cheap Trick Manchester-7

Cheap Trick Manchester-6

Whilst Nielsen keeps pulling out some different guitars for each song, they are fairly regulation stuff until he brings out one shaped like himself with the two necks as legs. It’s all part of the comedy side of the band, they have never been afraid to take the mick out of themselves and with tracks like ‘He’s a Whore’ you can see why even Steel Panther might have raided the Cheap Trick back catalogue for inspiration.

Rick Nielsen jokingly keeps grabbing for a plectrum each song, he has hundreds taped to his mic stand, and every time he goes for one about 5 drop off on the floor.

Cheap Trick Manchester-5

Cheap Trick Manchester-4

Competing with Nielsen’s guitars is Tom Petersson who plays an amazing 12 string bass and mid way through the set we have a short solo which neatly flows into Lou Reed’s ‘Waiting for the Man’ where Petersson also takes the lead vocal. This is quite superb and uncanny considering with the shades on there is more than a resemblance to the New Yorker.

Cheap Trick Manchester-3

Cheap Trick Manchester-2

What followed that was a run down of the big 70’s pop hits – ‘Want You to Want Me’ is a classic pub jukebox number and given a great singalong treatment by the Manchester crowd and ‘Dream Police’ very similar. These one two punches are a knockout after over an hour of relentless great American pop rock music. Then the encore includes the epic ‘Surrender’ which is probably the perfectly crafted track for tonight, great riffs and harmonies and a chorus of “Mommys Alright, Daddys Alright, They Just Seem A Little Weird” kind of sums us all up, it’s all just a great nostalgia trip.

This performance was a lesson for all those pop rock bands in how to stick to a formula and keep the career going over a number of years. These guys who are now in their mid to late sixties keep the fans happy with the classic hits, inject a bit of new stuff, but most of all just go out there and entertain, don’t take yourselves too seriously and enjoy it.

We’re all alright Cheap Trick, but please don’t leave it another 6 years!

Just Got Back
Long Time Coming
Clock Strikes Ten
He’s a Whore
Need Your Love
Taxman Mr Thief
You Got it Going On
If You Want My Love
No Direction Home
Never Had a Lot to Lose
Stop This Game
I’m Waiting for the Man
I Know What I Want
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police

Gonna Raise Hell

We’re All Alright [ June 2017]
Live at Budokan [1979]

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