Cheap Trick, Mick Hayes Band – Artpark, Lewiston, NY – July 17, 2011

Photos/review – Thomas S. Orwat Jr.

Lewiston, NY – Classic rock legends, Cheap Trick triumphantly returned to the stage last night. After nearly escaping death 48 hours prior, when the stage they were performing on, collapsed during a freak wind storm in Ottawa, Canada, the band played with a new found intensity, laughing in the face of adversity, and thankful that they survived tragedy, in order to rock on for another day. The jammed pack crowd of 15,000, cherished every note from their heroes, on this hot and humid summer night.

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One thing obvious from the start was that Cheap Trick is more popular now than they have ever been.  Band members Rick Nielsen –guitar, Robin Zander-vocals/guitar and Tom Petersson –bass are now treated as rock royalty, and rightly so. (Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son, filled in for founding member Bun E. Carlos, who is not participating on this tour.)  They have always stuck to their original vision of a blend of unique power pop rock and never deviated, no matter what’s in fashion, Cheap Trick IS always Cheap Trick. And they continue to create amazing new music as is evident on their recent 2009 release “The Latest.”

Cheap Trick kicked of the evening with their regular opener “Hello There.” And while the band was using borrowed equipment, because some of their gear was damaged during the previous gig stage collapse, it didn’t make any difference. They still sounded great.

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An intense, extended version of “California Man” followed, and at this point, the concert officially became an all out summer party, hosted by one of the greatest rock bands of all time.  Before the fourth song of the set, Rick Nielsen, still a little shaken from the bands near death experience, addressed the audience and said, “We will be playing songs from our 1st and 2nd  and 28th release.  But, I’m just happy to be playing for more than 20 minutes.”  Then after the huge, mega hit, “I Want You to Want Me” Nielsen commented again saying, “I’m so glad to be alive.”  Robin Zander then followed by stating, “I’d like to thank our crew for getting this (gig) together.  Our regular gear is still under a heap of rumble in Ottawa.”

The band then brought up Marky Hagar, a seven year old kid from the audience, dressed up as Rick Nielsen.  Rick soon replaced the youngster’s paper jam guitar with one of his own.  Marky started playing and the band followed for a few seconds.  The band then let him stay on the side of the stage for the entire show, high-fiving him, and giving him loads of guitar picks throughout the evening.  I have a feeling that Marky’s dad is going to have a hard time finding something to top that experience.

Cheap Trick proceeded with “Tonight It’s You,” and then before the next song, Nielsen asked the audience, “How many bands have had a hit single with an Elvis song?  Only one!”  The band then slammed into their top 40 hit and Elvis cover, “Don’t Be Cruel.”  Nielsen was very animated throughout the entire show; as I had the unique perspective and privilege, of watching the show from the side of the stage.  Many times throughout the evening, Nielsen would walk off the stage and just goof around with the people around him.  He is one of the coolest rockstars around.

Nielsen switched to a lucid yellow guitar and again commented, “It’s great to be alive,” before proceeding into “High Roller.”  The band then performed to the delight of the audience, the biggest hit of their career, “The Flame.”  Then 12-string bassist Tom Petersson, took lead vocals for “I Know What I Want.”  The band ended the set with the crowd favorite “Surrender,” in which Nielsen threw out a vinyl copy of “The Latest” with guitar picks taped to it, into the eager audience.

After a quick break, Cheap Trick returned to the stage for a three song encore.  “Gonna Raise Hell” was the first of the three, which featured a drum solo that quickly turned into an extended jam, with Nielsen and Petersson joining in.  During this time, Zander was on the side of the stage, standing right next to me, signing autographs to the stretched out arms of audience members.  The band then ended the show with “Dream Police” and “Goodnight.”

This was an incredible evening for Cheap Trick and Artpark/Lewiston, NY. It’s been a while since I’ve seen people so excited after a show.  Cheap Trick is truly timeless, as ages from 7-70 were entertained by the band.  The proof is in the pudding, as I was receiving e-mails all night long from readers that went to the show, that said they had an absolute blast. Cheap Trick has perfected the art of having fun and they take it very seriously.  And their fans love them for it.

For more on Cheap Trick, please go to Cheaptrick.com

Setlist:
Hello There
California Man
Didn’t Know I Had it
I Can’t Take It
These Days
I Want You To Want Me
Tonight It’s You
Don’t Be Cruel
Borderline
High Roller
Flame
Ain’t That a Shame
Come On, Come On
I Know What I Want
Sick Man Of Europe
Surrender

Encore:
Gonna Raise Hell
Dream Police
Goodnight

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Opening this evening’s show was the hard hitting and rockin’ blues outfit, the Mick Hayes band.  Hayes, who plays guitar and sings, was backed by an awesome rhythm section, that included veteran drummer Eric Malinowski and bassist’ Tom Zielinski.   Their solid 45 minute set, consisting mostly of all original material, kept the crowd on it’s feet for their entire performance.  This band definitely has it going on, with Hayes’ stompin’ and soulful six string skills, along with the infectious groove provided by Malinowski and Zielinski, this band could be on the verge of much bigger things. One thing is for sure, they have 15,000 more fans after this performance. Check it out for yourself at http://www.mickhayesband.com

Setlist

Tried To Call You
Women Who Drink (Way Too Much)
Jimmy Lee
Crosscut Saw
Neighbor Neighbor
A Blues With No Name
Witchdoctor
Those 3 Words
Rag Top

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