Review – Cheap Trick @ The Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – 09/23/11

Poppinoff Oct 3rd, 2011 | By
Category: Cheap Trick, Greek Theater, The, Los Angeles, Setlist, Written Reviews

This concert review of Cheap Trick at the Greek Theatre comes from G.J. Nagy. I don’t know much about G.J Nagy, except he knows a lot about Cheap Trick. As you can easily tell after reading his review Mr. Nagy didn’t have all that good of a time at the show. So if you were at this show or have ever seen Cheap Trick make sure to comment on this post and let us know what you think because “When You Tell Concerts Its Cooler” -lorn

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick @ The Greek Theatre Concert Review

This was the 6th time I’ve seen Cheap Trick & the 2nd time I’ve seen them at the Greek. The last time being when they opened for Alice Cooper in ’05. I thought I’d close out my Summer concert season out and welcome the 1st day of Fall with them again. The Greek is a good fit for the band, [although they didn't exactly sell out]. I was really looking forward to the show being that C.T. always give good shows & play a style of Rock that is increasingly rare given that mainstream music does not give a rat’s ass about anyone over 27 anymore. I was nostalgic of course given my long history with the band [and a little sad this would be the 1st time I saw them without original drummer Bun E.]. Yes, they are “Dinosaur Rock” but better than most of their breed. And while nowhere near equaling their ’76-’80 output, they’ve released a surprisingly good amount of tunes in the last decade or so. Of course their crowning achievement is ’78′s “Heaven Tonight”, a much better album, though this was not what was on offer, but the better selling “Dream Police” LP in it’s entirety [plus "all the hits"].

The last time I saw the cheaps’ attempt something on this scale was when they performed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” at the Hollywood Bowl in ’07 for that mega-album’s 40th anniversary. The two night stand featured Geoff Emerick, [in the crowd on this night] who engineered all the sound effects on Sgt. Pepper, doing it all over again for the lucky attendees. Now THAT was a memorable show. With backing from the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and in a venue that’s actually designed for the exacting needs of a world-class orchestra, it’s no wonder that aurally, this Greek show paled in comparison sound-wise.

The show didn’t lack for grandiose ambition though from the several video “packages” woven through the show to the choir in early Beatles garb & the candle-clutching children descending down several aisles at the beginning of the show while the orchestral strains of “Heaven Tonight” were played behind a stage obscuring white screen. After the initial video segment giving the audience a glimpse into the collective mind of the tricksters in the early ’80s, the screen came down to reveal a two-tiered stage that featured the ”Bombastic Symphonic Philharmonic with Rhythmic Noise Mind Choir in 4D”, a 20-member ensemble above the band, [which included guitarist/songwriter Rick Neilsen's progeny Miles on guitar, and Daxx on drums]. The musicians kicked into gear with the title track & the crowd immediately jumped to it’s feet. I was hoping The Trick would ALL come out in the “Dream Police” uniforms but alas, only singer Robin Zander is that dedicated to the concept. Being the Rock “Diva” he is, there were a few costume changes for him.

The mix was in trouble from the start & for most of the show. From our part of the B section, it was a blurred cacophony of sound for nearly all the show. Of course it was much cleaner during the slow, quieter songs such as 1988′s “The Flame”, their very annoying, very big hit song, they thankfully didn’t write. [If there was a "chick song'' of the set, this was it.] Although you can count on always being able to hear Zander’s banshee wail & Rick Neilsen’s wall of guitar and the snare drum cutting through the mix, it’s a toss up whether anything else will register. And this night was no different. Even Tom Petersson’s bass sound was fuzzy-sounding, whether it was bad amplification or lack of decent bass sound due to using a 12-string bass, [all those strings can tend to generate undefined tones compared to a solid 4-5 string] sound-wise, it was kinda’ messy. The 1 hour & 53 minute set suffered a lack of distinction between all those instruments. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say their regular sound guy was out sick or that they skipped the sound check all together. And I know it wasn’t entirely the Greek’s fault, I had just seen Return To Forever/Dweezil Zappa there two nights before & the sound was great-particularly Zappa’s guitar, which practically sounded 3D. Unfortunately, most of us have gotten used to atrocious Rock concert mixes-or don’t know any better and are just happy to be there. At one point, my concert companion turned to me to ask if there was something wrong with her ears, or was the sound mix just bad: well, I said-I’ve had some good news & bad news for you…

The set was also marred by the fact that for nearly half the show, the small video monitors on the sides of the stage were totally out. I felt sorry for those in the “nosebleed” section, having to do all that squinting. At least the two-tier video backdrop mitigated this fact by interspersing archival footage of the band throughout the evening. Although at times, it veered awfully close to looking like a corporate promo film that was trying too hard to convince us of the fact that we need to continue supporting “the brand”. [The Go-Go's did something akin to this earlier this Summer at the Greek.] The early video was a real trip down memory lane for the old-timers that go back to the days in ’78 when the young Trick fans bought actual albums from “Licorice Pizza”, “Music +” and “Tower Records” and “I Want You To Want Me” was blasting from all those radios tuned to KLOS, KMET, KWST, even KROQ(!) at the time.

Besides the title track, the highlights included “Way Of The World”, “The House Is Rockin’ ”, “Writing On The Wall”, “Stop This Game”, and “I’ll Be With You Tonight,” on which Zander got lost a few times mixing up lyrics as he would later on they-have-to-play-in-L.A., “California Man” . But give him a break-he’s 58 for god-sakes! Keeping his vocal chops up as well as he has is a neat “trick”. There isn’t another singer in his class/age range this side of Steve Perry who can touch him! A couple would-be classics were blown up by the sub-par vocals of Nielsen’s on the Lennonesque “World’s Greatest Lover”, and Petersson’s “I Know What I Want”, stick to your “day jobs” guys! ;)
The low-lights were a 3 run bathroom-break combo of “High Priest of Rhythmic Noise “, “I Want Be Man”, and “The fLAME”. Also not so hot: too of the longest, most repetitive CT songs “Gonna Raise Hell” and “Need Your Love”. We could have had five-six short, FAR better classics instead of these two such as: “Baby Loves to Rock”, “Big Eyes”, “Clock Strikes Ten”, “Daddy Should Have Stayed in High School”, “Downed”, “Everything Works if You Let It”, “He’s a Whore”, “High Roller”, “On Top of the World”, & “Stiff Competition”. [Oh you counted huh? I know that's more than six songs-but it's Cheap Trick dammit', how could I pare it down any more than that!?] Curiously, after pretty much recreating a Cheap Trick show from their ’70′s-’80′s heyday, They played the muscular rocker “Sick Man of Europe” from 2009’s “The Latest”. That tune’s title is a kind of running gag being that Nielsen and Petersson played in a band with the same name between 1972–1973, & T.P.’s 1st post-C.T. band was also called “Sick Man of Europe” .

The obviously glaring omission was borne out of the fact they largely ignored their best & earliest albums other than the two hits, “Cali-Man”, the haunting, Kashmir-lite “Heaven Tonight” and a WAYYYY too short version of arguably their best, purest-sounding ballad “Mandocello”. I thought we’d at least get to here “Southern Girls” being that we were in SOUTHERN California right? They closed the show with their two biggest hits: rousing versions of “I want You To Want Me” & “Surrender” which the audience by that point, already had. These were the songs the casual fans were waiting for, and everyone was on their feet, moving & singing along with the guys.

All in all, not bad for a band where two-thirds of the members are 4 years away from Social Security!! Another plus was the stage didn’t collapse and nobody was hurt. [Other than the feelings of the die-hards who didn't get to hear their favorites.] :{
Although I had misgivings about the show, I’m always happy to see my teen-hood heroes-even when the sound is somewhat crappy, and I think I can speak [now or forever hold my peace] for the adoring crowd when I say: WHAT? NO ENCORE!? COME ON, COME ON guys! Indubitably the cruelest, cheapest trick of all… -G.J. Nagy

For another take on Cheap Trick’s live set, check out this review from Mike Bandow.

Review – Cheap Trick @ 7 Flags Event Center – Clive, IA


Cheap Trick @ The Greek Theatre 09/23/11

  1. Stop This Game (Mind Choir)
  2. Heaven Tonight (Orchestra)
  3. Dream Police
  4. Way of the World
  5. The House is Rockin’
  6. Gonna Raise Hell
  7. I’ll Be With You Tonight
  8. Voices
  9. Writing on the Wall
  10. I Know What I Want
  11. Need Your Love
  12. High Priest of Rhythmic Noise
  13. I Want Be Man
  14. The Flame
  15. Stop This Game
  16. California Man (The Move cover)
  17. If You Want My Love
  18. Sick Man of Europe
  19. World’s Greatest Lover
  20. Mandocello/Ain’t That a Shame/Smile
  21. I Want You to Want Me
  22. Surrender


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2 Comments to “Review – Cheap Trick @ The Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA – 09/23/11”

  1. Hugh Mann says:

    Yeah, I was at this show and while I feel the set list was better than the last time I saw them, I have to agree the sound was mostly muddy, but being a sound engineer by trade, I pay a lot of attention to these things.

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