Cheap Trick Hits the Jackpot at Hard Rock Tampa
Cheap Trick kicked off the first of five Florida dates in lead singer Robin Zander’s hometown at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa. Guitarist Rick Nielsen joked about never having been invited to Zander’s Florida home (“Thanks a lot”), the Tampa Bay crowd had a laugh with Nielsen. It was clearly a Cheap Trick hometown crowd along with some diehard travelers making the pilgrimage to Florida to see their musical heroes.
Next year is the 50th anniversary of Cheap Trick, formed in 1973 in Rockford, IL, which has an official Cheap Trick Day on every April Fool’s Day since 2007. The band was inducted into the Rock Hall in 2016. They have sold over 20 million albums and played thousands of shows. They are the favorite band of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. Guitar driven with Rick, Robin, Tom and Robin Taylor all on guitars, it is all about the music with Cheap Trick.
The band arrived on stage to their intro song, “Hello There” written by Rick Nielsen. Zander was wearing a white suit and hat, from his collection of many brims. Nielsen dressed from head to toe in multi-colored Cheap Trick attire from his t-shirt to guitar picks. Tom Petersson was in a black leather jacket and red bandana neckerchief with his 12-string bass. One of my favorites, “California Man” made the setlist and “He’s A Whore” sounded great with the premium top shelf vocals of Robin Zander. Some of these songs are 40-50 years old and amazingly stand the test of time in sound and lyrics. The crowd was excited and up on their feet from the first note.
Trick’s cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame”, blew the roof off! Everyone was up dancing and singing along. It’s hard to believe that this song charted in 1978 on their iconic album, “Live at Budokan”. Zander and company sounded as good in 2023 as they do on the 70’s station! “Heaven Tonight” with Petersson on 12-string bass was a treat for Trick fans and Tom’s solo is mesmerizing. Robin Taylor Zander dressed in black jacket and hat took the lead stage from his dad and performed the Nielsen penned 1977, “Downed”. Family is part of this band with the younger generations in the act including Daxx Nielsen on drums who keeps the beat going and has a riveting drum solo. Rick Nielsen does band introductions including him as the “oldest mother f’er up here”. Nielsen’s shtick as a crazy, wild guitar player throwing picks and making faces at the audience is still entertaining after all these years playing to Zander’s straight man.
Say what you want about Trick’s number one hit “The Flame”, diehard fans either love it or hate it, but just about every cell phone in the Hard Rock was out recording it. Everyone holds their breath to see if Zander’s voice still hits that high note and he works it perfectly! The last trio of hits has the room singing to “I Want You To Want Me”, the classic “Dream Police” which everyone including the Hard Rock staff was singing and dancing along to. Finishing out the trio was “Surrender”, that teen anthem that had 60 year-olds out of their seats. Closing out the show with “Auf Wiedersehen” and “Goodnight”, the audience appreciation and ovation went on for one of America’s Greatest Rock & Roll Bands.
You can check out all tour dates and info at Cheap Trick.
Vicky Sullivan Photos
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