Over the weekend in Clearwater, Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Robin Zander, lead singer of one of America’s greatest rock bands, Cheap Trick, stepped on stage for the first time in six months! He played three sold-out acoustic shows with his singer/songwriter son, Robin Taylor Zander. He came geared up, sporting Tampa Bay Lightning merch, wearing a Bolts beanie on Friday & Bolts jersey on Saturday to support the home team in their fight for the Stanley Cup. On Sunday, Zander wore a white hat and jacket.
Robin Zander & New Locale
In the spectacular new “Kate Tiedemann and Ellen Cotton Cabaret Theatre” located in the grand lobby of Ruth Eckerd Hall, 100 music fans got to experience one of the first socially-distanced indoor shows by a nationally known musician. When the new lobby opened last year in November, they were using it as a pre-show get together area for cocktails with local musicians performing before the larger shows in the hall. As one staffer put it, “We never imagined months later, we would be doing actual shows here”. Ruth Eckerd provided a nice centerpiece of nosh for each table including cheese, crackers, and chocolate-covered strawberries. VIP tables received autographed posters of the evening. It was a well-done, classy event by the Ruthie!
Misters Zander & Zander used both acoustic & electric guitars along with keyboards. The sound was perfection with lighting being subtle, which made for a relaxed atmosphere. This was very much a listening room type of show. The audience was respectful and there was some friendly banter with Robin and fans requesting songs and making jokes. Robin’s voice was in top form after having been on rest during this time. Zander is known as one of the greatest rock voices being admired by other singers including rocker Sebastian Bach and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry who claims Cheap Trick as his favorite band! Zander made his Broadway debut in 2018 in the show “Rocktopia”, which brought him to a whole new audience!
The Show Particulars
The shows had a different setlist every evening of the 3-night run! Many Cheap Trick deep cuts as well as Zander’s solo tunes were played to an appreciative audience of die-hard Trick fans, some of who had traveled just to see these shows. One fan brought a painting of Zander to present to him. Three fan favorites that made the cut for every show was “I Want You to Want Me” and 1988’s “The Flame” which was a number one hit for Cheap Trick and “California Man”. Robin Taylor, who had been living in Nashville writing and recording, performed several of his own songs, with Robin on the sidelines allowing his son to shine. Each show ran two hours in length with a short intermission.
Some of the rarities played on Friday night for those black & white checkered diehards were, “Lookout” and “Oh Caroline”. For Saturday night, “Cry Cry” and “Downed” were dusted off for the crowd. A special treat on Sunday was guitarist George Harris from the famed Greg Billings Band joining the Zanders onstage for the Elvis classic “Don’t Be Cruel”. The song was a hit for Cheap Trick on their “Lap of Luxury” album. Another duo of deep cuts, “Y.O.Y.O.Y. and “Too Much” were saved for the last show. A great series of shows from Zander & Son! Look forward to more of these smaller shows until we can get back into the concert venues with our favorite artists!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan