Cheap Trick / Myrtle Beach, SC / 12-29-2004

Following a highly successful stint opening for Aerosmith, power pop masters Cheap Trick returned to Myrtle Beach, SC’s House of Blues.  The band last played Myrtle Beach in April.  This proved to be the only problem with this show.  The set list was nearly identical to the set list from eight months ago.  With a back catalogue as stacked and impressive as theirs, the band has no reason why they should do that.

Apart from the set list nitpicking, the show was once again outstanding.  Guitarist/ring leader Rick Nielsen bounded around the stage doing kicks and flicking guitar picks into the upper balcony, all while hammering out some extraordinary arena rock guitar licks.  At one point, rock’s royal jester stopped the show when an audience member passed a copy of the 1981 Rolling Stone issue that featured Cheap Trick on the cover.  After some self depreciating comments, Nielsen had some House of Blues employees make photo copies of the cover and then left it up to the original owner of the magazine to distribute them to the crowd.  He also handed his guitar to someone in the front row.  When the audience member passed it back up to the roadie, Nielsen joked, “Well, I was gonna give it to you.”

Drummer Bun E. Carlos was rock steady all night while bassist Tom Petersson proudly played his new signature model 12-string Waterstone bass.  They both seemed content to reside in the shadows while nut case Nielsen leaped and ran all over the stage.

Nielsen’s “favorite singer in the whole wide world,” Robin Zander, sounds better now than he did back in the 70s.  It’s almost scary how much he’s beginning to sound like the Who’s Roger Daltry.  He sang songs like “Voices” and “The Flame” beautifully and screamed his lungs out on “Scent of a Woman” and the remarkable 3 chord ditty “Best Friend.”  What’s really impressive is that new songs like “Scent of a Woman,” “Best Friend,” and “My Obsession” hold their own against the tried and true holy trio of songs “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” and “Dream Police.”  This is a testament as to how strong the band’s latest album Special One really is.

Cheap Trick is riding high right now.  They’re a super tight, energetic, blistering rock band that’s at the top of their game.  Cheap Trick proves that you can put on an amazing show without elaborate staging.  They’re a rock band that hasn’t forgotten how to roll.  No matter what night you see the band on, you know it’s going to be a Special One.