Canyon Club; Agoura Hills, CA; 09/29/04

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Anyone who's ever seen Cheap Trick live knows that they put on one of the best rock'n'roll shows in the business. The band combines their brilliant songwriting and outstanding musicianship with powerful charisma and explosive style for an evening that the audience won't soon forget.

Even on a Wednesday night, the Canyon Club was full to the gills. Now, the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills is a nice place to see a concert but it's far from the most ideal. The Canyon Club is a dinner theater so most of the area in front of the stage is taken up by dining tables filled with diners. There is a small area directly in front of the stage where the most dedicated fans can stand and wait for the band to start but, overall, unless you're willing to spend the big bucks on dinner (and it ain't cheap, although it is very good), you don't have many places to go. By the time the Club reached its capacity, there were people standing everywhere and it was virtually impossible to move without losing your place.

As usual, Cheap Trick took the stage with "Hello There," and then followed through with more tunes from their classic albums ("Big Eyes," "Surrender"), a tune or two from their new CD ("Special One") and, their full version of the theme from the hit Fox series "That 70s Show." It was somewhat shocking (if not surprising) to discover that the latter earned the most applause and audience adulation, perhaps even more so than the band's biggest hit, "Surrender."

The band was in top form, as always. Vocalist Robin Zander, who seems to have a guitar strapped on more often than not these days, started out a little rough but was in perfect pitch by the second song. Drummer Bun E. Carlos delivered a stunning backbeat while remaining poker-faced throughout. Despite the fact you know he's working hard, Carlos makes it all seem easy. Bassist Tom Petersson, inventor of the 12-string bass ("Who needs 12 strings on a bass?" asked an audience member beside me), had his fingers furiously flying over those twelve strings at all times, except when he traded his custom 12-string for a vintage 4-string during "I Know What I Want" which he also sang. And guitarist Rick Nielsen amazed as always. Nielsen has this uncanny knack to play his heart out with seemingly no effort. Plus, his flamboyant guitar moves continue to amaze and he never misses a lick. Nielsen is always a joy to behold.

One interesting note - and maybe I've noticed this before but it never really registered - is that, despite the fact that Zander is the lead singer, Nielsen acts as the band's front man. Between songs, it was Nielsen who chatted up the audience and announced which songs were next and from which CD's they came from. Zander did his job - giving the songs his tremendous voice - but when it came to audience banter, Nielsen took over the mike.

Regardless, the evening was a complete joy. It's a thrill that a band as solid as Cheap Trick has lasted throughout the years and that they continue to play and record awesome rock'n'roll.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.