TVD Live Shots: Cheap Trick at the O2 Forum Kentish Town, 6/27

I have seen Cheap Trick live more than a dozen times now and they never cease to live up to the announcement that precedes this legendary quartet taking the stage, “The best fucking rock band you’ve ever seen.” This time though was different as it was the first time I would be seeing the band perform in London.

Forty years strong, the band continues to fire on all cylinders. Touring in support of their brilliant new record, We’re All Alright, Cheap Trick brought their latest show to the O2 Forum Kentish Town in north London. The magnetism of Robin Zander, the charisma of Rick Nielsen, the thundering 12 string bass of Tom Petersson, and the bombastic drums of Nielsen’s son Daxx played an incredibly diverse set full of deep cuts, hits, and new material.

It was amazing to see the man of one thousand voices, Mr. Robin Zander decked out in his black leather Dream Police uniform. His voice sounds amazing as well. He’s still got the power and plenty of range to hit all the notes in all the right places—while still enjoying every last bit of leading such an epic band. Rick Nielsen’s personality remains bigger than his collection of oddball guitars, and his quick wit and connection with the audience is second to none.

Tom Petersson laid the foundation and locked in the groove with the 12-string bass he pioneered back in the late ’70s. The band has included Nielsen’s son Daxx on the drums since the departure of original drummer Bun E. Carlos five years ago. Daxx continues to impress claiming in a recent interview, “I’m half their age and I’m exhausted after a show.” Petersson took over lead vocals for his take on the Velvet Underground classic, “I’m Waiting for the Man” which has become a staple of the show.

The set list that evening was no surprise as it was filled with Cheap Trick classics, a few rarities, and of course the hits. The beautiful thing about a Cheap Trick show is you never know what you’re going to get in terms of the set list. I’m guessing it’s based on the band’s mood that day. Highlights from the show included stellar versions of “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Elo Kiddies,” “California Man,” “Big Eyes,” and the standard opening and closing of “Hello There” and “Goodnight.” Missing were many of the polished power-pop anthems of the ’80s such as “Tonight It’s You,” “If You Want my Love,” “I Can’t Take It,” but I think they partially made up for this by rolling out the monster ballad, “The Flame.”

Two songs from the latest album (“Long Time Coming” and the live debut of “You Got it Going On”) graced the set list and fit in perfectly with the band’s classic sound. Cheap Trick is sort of on a tear recording great records at the moment. It’s almost like they are taking a page out of the ’70s one album a year playbook. I’m still digging into 2016’s Bang, Zoom, Crazy, Hello, but I’ll take a new record every year as long as the quality isn’t diminishing, and it is not. How many bands these days can make a solid record year after year? Not many.

Bottom line: The American version of The Beatles continues to be embraced overseas. It’s a live show that every music fan on the planet should experience at least once in their lives. There’s easily enough energy and showmanship in these guys for a least another cool decade of rock ‘n’ roll. The new album We’re All Alright is available now and it’s a welcome addition to any vinyl collection—be it for classic fans or those just discovering these Rock n Roll Hall of Fame legends.

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