28146Cheap Trick in Lancaster, PA last night
- Jun 7, 2014
I've bee wanting to see Cheap Trick again ever since I went to a free outdoor concert around 15 years ago got rained out about five songs into the band's set. So when I found out they were coming to the American Music Theater in Lancaster, I quickly bought three tickets in the second row of the balcony for myself, my wife and our daughter (who actually has At Budokan on her iPod). My wife ended up not being able to go because she had to work, so my mom (who's in her late 60s but has always liked Cheap Trick) went along. I'm glad I got those balcony seats because most of the crowd on the ground floor stood through the whole show, and there's no way my mother could have stayed standing that long.
The band put on a great performance. I was a little worried when I read that drummer Bun E. Carlos is fueding with his old bandmates, so they're currently touring with Rick Nielsen's son Daxx on drums, but he did a fine job. He even played a lengthy drum solo during "Gonna Raise Hell", and it was great.
The only downside to the show was that the sound was absolutely miserable. I don't know if it was just the acoustics of the theater or if the sound guy just had no idea what he was doing, but I'm leaning towards the latter. Everyone I've talked to who has seen shows at that venue told me it's a fantastic place to see a show, and before the band came on they were playing classic rock songs over the PA system and they sounded fine. But then about 10 minutes before the band came on, someone cranked the volume up and boosted the bass to heart-stopping levels and the sound completely went to shit. When the band finally started playing it just sounded like a big ball of mush where you couldn't hear any of the individual instruments, couldn't make out any of the lyrics and the kick drum and bass overwhelmed everything. I know this is going to make me sound old, but it was also about twice as loud as it needed to be. It was just amazingly bad sound - it sounded like listening to controlled explosions in a cave.
Despite that, the band put on an enthusiastic show, with Rick Nielson up to his usual antics of throwing handfuls of guitar picks and albums into the crowd. Robin Zander wore a white Dream Police outfit through the whole show, complete with white cap with a silver star on it. Near the end of the show, a roadie came out and put a glittering cape around his shoulders - it was pretty funny. Zander's voice has held up over the years and the band still sounds pretty much the same as they did when I saw them back in the 90s.
I was somewhat surprised by the set list - the band only ventured beyond 1980 once. There was no "The Flame", no "If You Want My Love (You Got It)", and (disappointingly for me) nothing from more recent albums like Rockford or The Latest. They *almost* played something from the 1997 self-titled album when Nielsen started playing Brontosaurus, but when the rest of the band kicked in the song shifted to California Man.
They played most (if not all) of the At Budokan and Dream Police albums, plus a couple songs from their pre-Budokan albums and (surprisingly) two songs from the All Shook Up album (Stop This Game and Baby Loves to Rock). I'm guessing that must be a favorite album of the drunken loudmouthed assholes who were sitting in front of us, because they freaked out when the band started those songs. The only post-Shook song they played was "Borderline", which Nielsen introduced by saying "I think this was from the Next Position Please album, but I'm not sure because I didn't buy that album either".
After the show as we were walking through the lobby on our way out, this large biker chick with her hair died bright orange started walking towards us, and I'm wondering what in the world she could possibly want. She went straight up to my mom and said "Judy, is that you?" - turns out they used to work together years ago. Leave it to my retiree mom to run into a biker at a Cheap Trick concert that she knows.
As we were finally heading for the exit, the theater's fire alarms started going off. The ushers started pushing everyone towards the doors and by the time we were trying to edge our way out of the parking lot, fire engines were trying to edge their way in. I checked the news this morning and discovered that a subwoofer had burst into flames shortly after the show ended. I knew they had the bass cranked up too loud. Fortunately, theater employees were able to put the fire out immediately.
Overall I'm glad I went, although between tickets and t-shirts (I bought one for myself and one for my daughter) I spent around $250 on the show (the trick is not that cheap these days). Hopefully I'll get another chance to see the band before they call it quits, and hopefully next time the sound will be a lot better.
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