Friday, July 22, 2011

The cheapest trick of all

I was going to go to this show.

I changed my mind on Sunday morning, largely because of the heat wave that has been scorching the earth around these parts since the beginning of July.

I was going to go to this show because Cheap Trick was once an important band to me. Perhaps the most important one.

When I was eight and nine years old, our family stereo unit held a secret cache of LP's and 45's. My Dad had his collection, mostly consisting of Charlie Pride and Tanya Tucker. My mother had her Olivia Newton-John and Nana Mouskouri albums. And my much older sisters (at least they seemed much older at the time), they had their records.

On most occasions when the family stereo unit was in heavy rotation, I had to endure a rather unhealthy dose of Supertramp (Breakfast in America was indelibly branded upon my brain before I turned ten years old; a cruel and unusual punishment if you ask me), Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell (the album cover looked cool as hell, I thought, but it sure didn't sound cool as hell), or K-Tel compilations subjecting me to the truly hellish excesses of late Disco, the Bay City Rollers, K.C. and the Sunshine Band et al.

But to their credit, my older sisters record collection also introduced me to some glories of late 70s rock, particularly Queen's News of the World (now there was an album cover that looked cool as hell and so did the music) and Cheap Trick's Live at Budokan. Like much of the material that generates the playlists of putative "Classic Rock" radio stations, I don't know that Cheap Trick's music (let alone its band members) has aged very well, but at one time they were the biggest and baddest band in the world, at least within my eight-year-old world. When I saw them on TV Variety Shows/Specials, that peculiar late 70s/early 80s species of mass entertainment, I would marvel at Rick Nielson's five-neck guitar and Bun E. Carlos toiling away on the drum kit while the ubiquitous cigarette dangled from his mouth. When I started to buy my own albums a year or so later, one of my initial acquisitions was Heaven Tonight, advertised on Live at Budokan with "Surrender", probably the most enduring song they've ever released.

While Cheap Trick has not survived as a sonic companion of mine since those years (frankly, I couldn't believe that they are still touring), I was nevertheless considering checking out their gig at Bluesfest, if only for nostalgic reasons.

Might have been a hoot, had the stage not collapsed.

Luckily, nobody was seriously injured.

Yup, they're all alright -- they just seem a little weird.


  1. Cheap Trick is an old steady iconic band. They handled this crazy moment like pros. One more story for these legendary lads.

  2. Old Olie introduced me to Cheap Trick in my late teenage summer. Some nice straight forward arena rock from these guys. The press is reporting they weren't too happy about the B-fest collapse. Now they want justice. Better call the police, the Dream Police that is.