As I was scrolling through music videos online I came across this video of Cheap Trick doing a live set on ‘Don Kirshners Rock Concert’ from 1977. Cheap Trick has always been a band I loved, especially centering on their first two albums. I consider their second album, ‘In Color’ one of the best rock albums ever recorded. You can play the album straight through and there’s not a musical drop off from start to finish. When that album came out I used to plug in my guitar, drop the needle and play along with the entire album (ah – back in the days when you had to stop halfway through and turn the record over). Both of their first two albums came out in 1977. I had the fortune of seeing them in that era. At that time they were still playing smaller venues – the first time I saw the band they were playing a theatre that held about 300 people. Nothing quite like seeing a band at a place that size – to me it’s so much more exciting than an arena or stadium. This video is a short sample of the show they were doing then. They would start their set with ‘Hello There’ – full throttle from the beginning. They ended the show with the companion piece ‘Goodnight Now’. This set also includes other favorites of mine like ‘Downed’ and ‘Clock Strikes Ten’.
Many of the bigger shows you can go to now contain a lot of stage craft – videos, huge light shows, backing tracks, an engineer working the performer’s sound changes. At that level you really have to choreograph the entire show. And that can make for great theatre and lot of fun. But there’s something to be said for a band just screaming through their songs, a show carried by energy and the performer’s personality. Each member of Cheap Trick played their character to the hilt – the nerds vs rockers look, the sound fill provided by Tom Petersson’s twelve string bass, Bun E. Carlos’s giant drumsticks at the end, Rick Nielson constantly flicking pics in to the audience (yes, I do have one of those pics), Robin Zander’s powerful vocals. There’s no standing in place shoegazing at a Cheap Trick show. I thought this video would be a great watch for a Friday night (or any night). So if you get a chance, go see a band at a small venue. Get up close to the stage and feel the energy wash over you. The real power of live music.