CHEAP TRICK at The Wellmont Theater, Montclair, New Jersey (November 12th 2021)

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Cheap Trick is currently touring post-pandemic in support of their most recent album, “In Another World,” which came out this past April. Tonight’s show at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ, is towards the tail end of their U.S. tour, then in February 2022, they head off to Europe.

If you grew up in the late 70s or early 80s, you couldn’t help falling in love with Cheap Trick the moment you heard their songs on the radio. Their driving style of rock & roll, with their relentless grooves and infectious choruses, were custom-made for FM radio. The band consisted of four charismatic, highly entertaining, and larger-than-life characters similar to KISS but without makeup and costumes. Nearly 45 years later, the band is still writing, touring, and making fans fall in love with them. Though some of the faces in the band have changed throughout the years, their presence and footprint in crafting tremendous music has not faltered. They are still writing songs with big hooks and catchy choruses. The band currently consists of Robin Zander [vocals], Rick Nielsen [guitar], Daxx Nielsen [drums], and Robin‘s son Robin T. Zander [bass]or more affectionately known as just RTZ. RTZ has played rhythm guitar with the band on the last four tours, but he is now filling in on bass, replacing Tom Petersson, who is recuperating from open-heart surgery. I guess you could say this iteration of Cheap Trick is a real family affair!

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

Being one of the first bands out of the gate on the touring circuit this year, they heard the call of the road during the lock-down and now answering it as it’s their passion and love. The fan’s desire to see their live show was equal, which was evident as the venue was packed, dare I say sold out?

Cheap Trick was energetic and in touch with their audience’s desires to hear the classic songs that put them on the map. With a set-list that changes nightly, they perfectly balanced the big hits without sacrificing some of the deep cuts like “Ballad of TV Violence” and “Stiff Competition.” No matter what song was played, the band retained the passion, essence, and energy of how they were originally written. If you had never listened to a Cheap Trick record in your life, you still would have recognized many of the songs played from MTV and the radio “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” and course, fan-favorite and a highlight of the night “The Flame” which was sung with heart and soul. It featured Robin‘s best vocals of the night. They even played two songs off their new record, the title track, “In Another World,” and “Boys & Girls and Rock ‘n Roll,” which Rick pointed out would be louder than the acoustic version they performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The one thing that is constant at a Cheap Rick show is that it will make you feel better than any designer drug; you will hear a couple of cover tunes Cheap Trick has made their own like “Ain’t That a Shame” and “California Man” plus you will likely get a hit with a guitar pick from Rick no matter where you are sitting.

Photo by Robert Cavuoto

With so many bands on tour using sampled lead and background vocals, Robin is the real deal. His voice was clear and crisp, a real singer and as good as he was 45 years ago. He hasn’t lost a thing! He continually unleashed his incomparable vocal chops with emotional fervor with ease. He is an entertaining front-man who exudes charisma and a rock star attitude.

A band’s focal point is typically the singer, but you can’t deny Rick is a true entertainer in every sense of the word and soul behind the band. His playing provided enough blues-inspired licks and bravado to show all the guitar enthusiasts present who’s boss. He brought an arsenal of guitars and changed them for every song. At one point, he addressed the crowd asking if anyone was interested in selling him a vintage Gibson Firebird!

Emulating Tom‘s persona by wearing a wide brim hat, trench coat, and bandana, RZT took lead vocals for a fiery version of “Downed.” Daxx laid down the solid downbeat and foundation for the band to soar.

Cheap Trick crushed the crowd and delivered a memorable evening for everyone in attendance! The theater was loud, and the band gave an outstanding performance.  It’s always great to see Cheap Trick carrying on and continuing to cement their Rock & Roll legacy and remaining one of the best live bands ever!

CHEAP TRICK Setlist:

Hello There / He’s a Whore / Hot Love / California Man (The Move cover) / Big Eyes / Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover) / Ballad of Tv Violence / Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll / Stiff Competition / On Top of the World / Baby Loves to Rock / Downed (Robin Taylor Zander on Vocals) / The Flame / I Want You to Want Me / Dream Police

Encore:

Clock Strikes Ten / Surrender / Another World (Reprise) / Auf Wiedersehen / Goodnight Now

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