Cheap Tricked

To be fair, Cheap Trick does not have nearly the amount of hits that Foreigner and Styx has. It goes without saying then, that their concerts might be less stimulating than Foreigner and Styx.

On August 24th, 2012, at  Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana, they made the audience wait until the end of the show before playing their 3 major hits “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me” and “Dream Police.”  That actually makes sense because you don’t want the show to be anti-climactic. But they should have played one of them towards the beginning to give the audience hope.

Familiarity is the strongest component in music, which was evident in the crowds’ reaction-for the first time in my life I saw attendees leaving by the droves in the middle of the concert. I was almost embarrassed for Cheap Trick.

The reason they were leaving is because Cheap Trick insisted on playing exclusively new material in the beginning and through the middle of the concert. I understand that any band has the right, and, in fact, should create new music, but it almost seemed a blatant disrespect to the fans that have remained fans based on those familiar hits.

For the few who remained until the end of the show, there was a pay-off, as they did their three big hits for the finale. I think a better alternative would have been to play one of their hits earlier on to give the fans hope. It seemed that Cheap Trick was rebelliously making a statement throughout the show, as if to say that they are not obligated to play their hits just to please the fans.

I see that both sides have a point. As artists, Cheap Trick certainly should be allowed to create new music. That said, I think they do owe the fans the satisfaction of hearing the songs that they made famous, which, incidentally, made Cheap Trick A LOT of money over the years.

Overall, having an appreciation of music, I thought that there lesser-known songs were pretty good and I did enjoy the show. I certainly do not want my analysis of the concert to be misinterpreted as a poor musical performance. Cheap Trick is a very talented band.

Fun fact: In the beginning of the live-recorded radio version of “I Want You To Want Me” lead-singer Robin Zander says rather cheesily and slowly “I want you… to want… me.” The reason he said it in that manner is because it was recorded at a concert in Japan and Zander wanted to be clear that the message of the song was getting across to the audience. As he said “you” he pointed to the crowd, and as he said “me” he pointed to himself.

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Styx’ Incredible Show

Chicagoland-natives, Styx, have a countless number of hits that most people love. I think the best thing about seeing all of these rock bands from yesteryear is that, through the duration of the concert, you often find yourself saying “oh yeah, I forgot they made this song too,” referring to one of those tunes that you love that has permanent real estate in your brain.

My wife and I were lucky enough to see this legendary band on June 9th, 2012 at The Pavilion at Wolf Lake in Hammond, Indiana. Local up & coming band, The Crawpuppies, opened the show with a respectable set.

When I was a kid (young teen), I had a “best of” Styx CD, so I knew most of their songs quite well. I cannot recall that they played any song that I was unfamiliar with. They played a long while-probably 12 to 15 songs-but here is the kicker: they have so many hit songs that they could not fit them all into one long concert!

The stage was adorned with a giant “Styx” banner in the background, plenty of lights and pyrotechnics, and the coolest keyboard in the world (a little cheesy, but in a good way; it was surreal) with a “Styx” logo in the front, this shiny silver, physics-defying thing of beauty rotates 360 degrees in both directions (hence the “physics-defying”-it is because they have a special apparatus inside the support column that prevents the cords from twisting). The keyboardist, vocalist, and Chicagoan, James Young even plays it backwards sometimes without missing a beat!

Styx makes keyboards cool. You have to be there live to experience how viscerally powerful they make it. A track of “Too Much Time on My Hands” http://www.styxworld.com/ does not do justice for the reality of the first, high voltage key that you hear live. Right from the beginning, you really feel this song. I felt as if a UFO was hovering overhead and shot a laser beam at me. A direct hit.

According to Styxworld.com, the band is currently made up of Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips (along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo).

Still touring and having no problems selling tickets, Styx, named after the Greek-mythological Styx River, are so named simply because it was the only name on a long list of names that none of the band-members hated. Their original name was The Tradewinds.

The double-bass drums, played by Todd Sucherman, sounded fantastic! Sucherman is not the original Styx drummer, but has been with them for about 15 years. Although well-regarded in the industry, he is highly underrated and uncommonly talented.

The two other highlights for me were “Renegade” and “Come Sail Away.”

I was terribly disappointed that they did not do Mr. Roboto. If you know the meaning of that song, it is actually pretty cool. In a nutshell, it is about a futuristic society where humans have almost become obsolete, a bit of the 1927 German film Metropolis, and an anti-rock-n-roll faction imprisons an anti-establishment robot named Kilroy. Although surprising, it was more palatable that they did not do their classic ballad, “Babe.”

It never ceases to amaze me how these older rock bands still perform at the level that they do. They don’t seem to fall off at all. In fact, this concert was one of the best I have ever seen, and the versions of the songs they did were the best I’ve heard. I hope I am as good at my profession at their age as they are.

I implore you, if ever you have the opportunity, and you really have an appreciation for music (not Justin Beiber and the other talentless studio-team manufactured “songs” commonplace today), you must see Styx. What a great night! They are beckoning you!