‘Surrender’ To Greatness

SALAMANCA – So, all there was to do on Sunday afternoon was to stay at home and watch the Bills end another mediocre season, right? WRONG. If that’s what you did, you missed an incredible show by one of the hardest working bands touring today.

Cheap Trick took the stage at Seneca Allegany Casino’s Event Center on Sunday to a packed house. Yeah, that’s always tossed in, but this time, the house was packed. Even with all those seats on the floor, quite a few people stood at the back of the house, watching, singing, and yes, dancing to all the classics.

For a few years now, rumors have been floating that Robin Zander’s ability to hang on the vocals are on the downhill slide of the 40-year career. Four decades of belting out, “Hello There,” even the years of hitting those high notes in “The Flame” have seemingly not had a negative impact on some of the most recognizable vocals. Zander still has it. Even on guitar.

Zander, playing rhythm to Nielsen’s blazing solos, proved that the Dream Police frontman still has the chops to be out on the stage, this night, dressed in a white “uniform” with police-style service cap, lifting the crowd off their seats, to the dismay of several security personnel. Apparently, Seneca Allegany is moving back toward some of the more harsh policies.

Nielsen had a bit of fun with some of the house security, flicking and tossing picks at the guy at the stage as he passed by. But, that’s Nielsen. If these guys are not having fun up there, you are not at the right show. Cheap Trick, as a whole, to include some of the best dirty punk bass pieces and vocals from Tom Peterssen and drum beats from guitarist, Nielsen’s son, Daxx Nielsen, were a quartet of great musicians and showmen on the stage for nearly 90 minutes of a fun time.

It has often been said that Cheap Trick is a band that does the opposite of many touring bands out there. Too often, a band playing a small to medium room, as the Event Center is, will play it with a small sound. Makes sense. You don’t want to blow out equipment or the ear drums of your fans. Cheap Trick played the room with sound that would have filled an arena, which, by the way, they would have been able to fill and sound great. The sound, though rough in some spots, was pretty good, giving the capacity crowd a great show, aurally and visually with a good light show.

As a concert-goer for quite some time, large shows as well as casino and club shows, I can say, hands down, this was one of the best performances I have had the chance to see. Taking my 12-year-old son to the show with me, I am glad he had a chance to see one of the best bands out there, one of the bands that will forever be part of the global rock scene. Cheap Trick not only met expectations, they exceeded them, leaving me and my son with slightly ringing ears, but a good time and plenty of good music.

A final note to the casino staff charged with cleaning up of the facility; I would be interested to know how long it took to clean up all of the material, picks and whatnot, tossed into the crowd by Nielsen. Seemed like the guy was tossing something out to the audience every couple minutes, including what I am assuming were vinyl LPs. The first landed in the ceiling fabric.

If you ever have the chance to see these guys in the future, do not let a Bills game (or anything else, for that matter) stop you from it. The show was well worth it.