Category Archives: Concert Review

Concert Review: Cheap Trick at the Arizona State Fair

Cheap Trick, Arizona State Fair 10/16/2013


Cheap Trick still wants you to want them and, though they haven’t been on the charts in awhile, you still should, you really, really should!

I have to admit, the label “classic rock” has always annoyed me a bit, clearly it’s a genre created by the suits solely for the purpose of defining a specific radio station format, but for the fans it just makes us feel old. Even worse, it’s reasonable to believe the bands saddled with this dubious title may occasionally find themselves feeling a bit like second class citizens, has-beens struggling to survive in a youth obsessed industry. To my mind, there are rock acts that have recorded songs that could be considered classic but there is no such thing as a “Classic Rock Band”, (with the possible exception of a covers band playing in a dive bar somewhere in Toledo tonight). There is really only one way to define Cheap Trick; American Rock and Roll Band.

The Rockers from Rockford, (Illinois), show very little sign of the wear and tear that often comes from too many years on the road. Rick Nielsen’s playful and scorching leads are just as playful and scorching, Robin Zander’s high notes and power chords are just as high and powerful and Tom Petersson’s bass thunders and pounds just as brilliantly as it always has. Daxx Nielsen, (Rick’s son), currently fills in for the no longer touring Bun E. Carlos and does his father more than proud with some very solid work on the skins, (hate to tell ya Bun, but you aren’t as missed as you may think you are).  Early in the show, my friend, who accompanied me to the concert, commented on how impressed he was by the fact that the band has yet to lower the key for Zander’s vocals, as many acts of Cheap Trick’s generation have, (Sting, we’re looking at you buddy). At no point in the concert was this more obvious then when Zander, backed only by his acoustic, launched into “The Flame“, the band’s number one chart topping power ballad from 1988’s Platinum selling album, Lap of Luxury. With vocals as strong as Zander’s it’s shocking to think it’s been 25 years since the band first recorded that tune. Other highlights from the 90 minute set included the band’s master cover of Fats Domino’sAin’t That a Shame” and their super hits “If You Want My Love“, “Dream Police“, “Surrender“, “Tonight it’s You” and, of course, the monster classic “I Want You to Want Me“.  The encores included a solid, hard rocking “Gonna Raise Hell” that perfectly showcased Nielsen’s tear-ass guitar work, as well as the tight musicianship of the entire band, and had me banging my head so hard I am still feeling it 3 days later, (my rock and roll heart thanks you guys, not to mention my chiropractor).

Should the band find their way into your neck of the woods, don’t hesitate, there is no way you’ll be disappointed. Cheap Trick are as relevant today as they’ve ever been and they’re carrying the torch of true rock and roll high and proud. At some point in the show you’re going to find yourself chanting along with the band, “We’re All Alright, We’re All Alright, We’re All Alright…” and, the best part is, you’re actually going to believe it.

Cheap Trick Setlist, Arizona State Fair 10/16/2013 

Hello There
Elo Kiddies
California Man
Tonight It’s You
If You Want My Love
I Can’t Take It
Ain’t That A Shame
She’s Tight
I Know What I Want
That 70s Song
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me
Sick Man of Europe
Dream Police
Never Had A Lot to Lose

Clock Strikes Ten
Gonna Raise Hell

Concert Review: Eric Clapton Tour 2013







Guitar “God” Eric Clapton kicked off his 2013 Tour in Phoenix, AZ last night and while it’s unlikely this tour will rank in the “Top 10 All Time Favorite Concerts” for anyone, an excellent time was had by all.

Clapton, started the evening off acoustically with the breezy and appropriate “Hello Old Friend”, from his 1976 release No Reason to Cry, followed by the moderate hit “My Father’s Eyes” from 1998’s Pilgrim, no, it wasn’t all that exciting and given Clapton’s catalog spanning 40 years of rock and roll one has to wonder why he would chose to kick off the evening with such tepid, easy listening tracks.

The show kicked into higher gear with “Got to Get Better in a Little While”, a favorite from the Derek and the Dominos days. Clapton tore into his wah wah on this tune and, despite his trademark stoic demeanor, finally showed signs of having a good time. The rapturous audience response confirmed the legendary rocker had at last tip toed into the “zone” we all had been patiently waiting for.

Surprisingly, the evening was a bit of a hit and miss affair, not all that unusual really during the first few nights of a new tour, one suspects the band/show will tighten with a little more time on the road. If I could suggest a tune they might consider exploring a little more during their future sound checks it would have to be the 70s classic, “Layla”, which last night meandered and drifted in an almost confused and listless way.

Concert highlights included Clapton’s definitive cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”, (featuring awe inspiring guitar work from the “God” himself), “Little Queen of Spades”, a blues jam that allowed the full 9 piece band to stretch some extremely impressive muscles, and an extended version of “Cocaine” complete with shredding guitars and dueling pianos.

As a bit of a surprise, Paul Carrack, formerly of Mike & The Mechanics, Squeeze and Ace, is a member of EC’s band this time around and delivered some wicked work on both the organ and keys, not to mention some fine vocal work on his hits “Tempted”, (previously recorded by Squeeze), and “How Long”  originally recorded by Carrack’s first band, Ace.

Hate to say it but it felt a bit like the big Clapton hits were just a lot of “going through the motions”, almost as if to say, “now that we got THAT out of the way, let’s play something we really like!” Definitely an understandable situation given how many times Clapton has performed these tunes, all I can tell you is, if you’re looking for engaging showmanship an Eric Clapton concert is not for you. However, if you’re coming to see one of the greatest guitarist rock and roll has ever offered shred a few strings, by all means run to the show, you won’t be disappointed!

The Wallflowers opened the show and, if you should happen to arrive late, never fear, you didn’t miss all that much.

Eric Clapton 2013 Setlist, US Airways Arena, Phoenix, AZ  3/14/2013

Hello Old Friend

My Father’s Eyes

Tell the Truth

Gotta Get Over

Black Cat Bone

Got to Get Better in a Little While

Tempted (Featuring Paul Carrack) 

I Shot the Sheriff

Driftin’ Blues

Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out

Tears in Heaven

Goodnight, Irene

Wonderful Tonight

How Long? (Featuring Paul Carrack)

Stones in My Passway

Love in Vain


Little Queen of Spades




Sunshine of Your Love

High Time We Went (Featuring Paul Carrack)