I had the chance to speak with Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen for this week's issue of Scene. The band is in town Thursday night for a show at the Hard Rock Live. Check out Rick's thoughts on pizza and more right here.
In that same issue, you'll also find a conversation with Rachel Bolan of Skid Row. The '80s metal dudes keep on rollin' and they'll be at the Cleveland Agora on Thursday night as well.
So if you were looking for something to do Thursday evening, you've now got a couple of options!
For the rest of the crowd, it might have been a head scratcher, figuring out how the two bands wound up on the same bill. (Hell, just observe the musical contrast in the above video!) In person, as much as I had been looking forward to the night of music, it was indeed quite interesting. The self-proclaimed (and I ain't arguing this) "best f*cking rock band you've ever seen" (that's Cheap Trick, for those of you that are still trying to figure it out) came on stage at 8pm sharp and delivered a 75 minute set that was blistering. The Cleveland date offered many the chance to get their first look at the band's new touring drummer Daxx Nielsen, (yes, he's related to Rick) who has been mysteriously planted on the drum stool formerly anchored by the band's iconic drummer Bun E. Carlos.
The band released a short statement in March prior to their appearance at South by Southwest (when the drummer change was made) and said simply that "Bun E. Carlos is not currently the touring drummer for Cheap Trick. Bun E. remains a band member. Everyone is healthy and Cheap Trick will continue to tour as planned." Cheap Trick fans are a passionate bunch, so you might expect them to picket every single show without Carlos, but the word got out early that like his dad, this Nielsen kid can play.
Cleveland-based lovers of great music will appreciate knowing that among the many great concert options to choose from in the area this weekend, there is at least one standout double bill featuring Mary Chapin Carpenter and Tift Merritt at the Kent Stage on Saturday night. Touring in support of her latest release The Age of Miracles, it will be a real treat to see Carpenter playing such an intimate room.
This sounds like a lot of fun to me....which means that if you're thinking that right now, you should get a move on it and purchase your tickets. According to the Kent Stage website, there are only 5 tickets left for the show.
Worst case, you could always go and rock out with Sweet Apple tomorrow night at the Grog, or perhaps the double bill of Cheap Trick and Squeeze on Sunday night at House of Blues is the dream double bill that you've been waiting for. In other words, there are plenty of great excuses to go see some live music this weekend.
How does one properly prepare for the weekend?
Well, around here, we like to tune up with a healthy helping of Rockford's own Cheap Trick from Mama's kitchen, with all of the fixin's. Mama always told me that there was nothing in life that couldn't be cured with a lick or three from one of Rick Nielsen's 5 million guitars.
As luck would have it for all of you ATV citizens, there's a lot going on in the world of Cheap Trick these days - notably, longtime drummer Bun E. Carlos is missing in action from the current tour with Nielsen's son Daxx is taking his place as the touring drummer for the moment. There aren't many details beyond that - just a brief statement released in mid-March by the band:
Bun E. Carlos is not currently the touring drummer for Cheap Trick. Bun E. remains a band member. Everyone is healthy and Cheap Trick will continue to tour as planned.
Robert "No Class" Crass Cass, mayor of Bootleg City, had done the unthinkable in these recessionary times, and took it upon himself to fire the village idiot.
Excuse me for a minute, because I'm crying right now. You have to understand how far the village idiot and I went back as friends, and that guy always amused me to no end, always had a smile on his face, and a joke for anyone that would listen.
Tearfully, I picked up the phone and called an emergency meeting of the Cage Match board of directors - Michael, Vice President of Operations and Video, flew in for the meeting, while L.A. based (Lower Akron) D.X. Ferris curiously had to join us via phone. Mellie Mel brought the Great Lakes Christmas Ale, and we sat down to have a very serious discussion about what Mayor Cass had done not only to the village idiot, but to the people of Bootleg City.
The end result was a punishment that we believe to be fair, that will insure that Bootleg City citizens, and others worldwide, will be protected from Mayor Cass, and future unjustified firings. We can't reveal full details of the punishment until Cass gets the official notification, but it involves the complete Ricky Martin discography.
And we're pleased to announce that we've given the village idiot a position here at Addicted to Vinyl, working in the category cleanup department.
As the meeting began to wrap up, Riverfront Times music editor Annie Zaleski (a newer member of the board,) approached the head of the table with a suggestion for this week's match. Quickly hanging up on D.X. Ferris (Annie and D.X. tend to fight a lot at these board meetings, something about a continuing argument involving The Smiths vs. Slayer,) I listened with interest, and quickly agreed that Zaleski's suggestion for this week was a winner.
Welcome to The Battle of the Central Illinois Heavyweights!
We're traveling to Rockford, IL, to meet our first band, and I've got a lot of history with the mighty Cheap Trick, and the particular song chosen for the Cage Match.
"The Flame," by my estimation is one of the most hated songs in any band's catalog. The band didn't write it, and in fact refused to perform it live during early shows they played supporting Lap of Luxury. "The Flame" turned out to be a mega-hit, and one that shot some much needed adrenaline into Cheap Trick's career, which was virtually on life support at the time that Lap of Luxury was released.
A couple of years ago, I participated in a Scene Magazine roundtable discussion (in print) of our favorite Cheap Trick albums. Each writer chose their favorite Cheap Trick album, and we had a healthy debate (as much as one can debate an album in 450 words or less.)
My pitch to the music editor offered up Lap of Luxury as my favorite CT album, with defense that would reveal that the album, and specifically "The Flame," were responsible for saving Cheap Trick's career. And how is that, you ask? Let me paint you a little bit of a picture, or actually just color a bit with these crayons sitting here. Love these damn things. Used to eat 'em.
I had a chance recently to see an evening of Q & A with country artist Marty Stuart at the Rock Hall. Stuart, also a member of Johnny Cash's band for a period in the 80s, talked about how the shows that Cash played during the 80s were the setup for the "final victory lap" that Cash would enjoy in the 90s.
I think the Cash story flies parallel with the tale of Cheap Trick circa-1988. Thanks to "The Flame," and Lap of Luxury, the band began to take their rightful place in the 90s as power pop icons. Bands like Stone Temple Pilots took Cheap Trick on the road as their super-hip/show your music cred choice of opening act. I guess you can argue the quality of Cheap Trick's studio output since 1988, but I think that most would agree that Cheap Trick (1997) and Rockford were solid.
21 years after the release of "The Flame," Cheap Trick continue to enjoy a steady stream of tour dates year round, including at least one major opening slot on a summer tour each year. Next up, the band will set up shop in Las Vegas for a recreation of the classic Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band with a full orchestra and special guests.
As a bonus before we move on, here is a special live rendition of "The Flame" that demonstrates how the song would sound, if it was used in a horror movie. The Trick were apparently having a bit of an off night!
Also, ATV friend Kevin Mason isn't as much of a fan of "The Flame" as I am.
I think I'm rambling now, where was I again?
Oh yeah, second contender time!
Originating in the college town of Champaign, IL, REO Speedwagon were on their way to a lifetime of being misunderstood. The band formed in 1967 while attending the University of Illinois, and to this day, "Keep On Loving You" is the school theme song for the Fighting Illini. Presumably, the song plays while the Illini are fighting, and kicking the asses of the opposing team.
Alright, I'm lying about the above paragraph - as far as I know, the Illini are not using any REO tunes for school spirit purposes. But you have to admit, it was a little bit fun to think about, at least for a few brief moments. It's fun to go to fantasy land every once in a while, where the marching band is playing "Keep On Loving You," amidst a giant field full of smoke and lasers.
Smoke and lasers that are very similar to the ones that you might have seen at an REO show back in the day, with REO lead singer Kevin Cronin rockin' out his big rock hair with guitarist Gary Richrath throwing down riff after riff.
I listen to "Keep On Loving You," and I'm amazed at how MASSIVE rock records sounded back in the day. Listening to "Keep On Loving You," and hearing, what sounds like 18 guitars wrapped around Cronin's initial vocal, I can only imagine what it must have been like to hear "Keep On Loving You" on the radio for the first time when it was brand new.
"Keep On Loving You" was the first #1 single for REO Speedwagon, and also the first of four top 40 hits from REO's soon-to-be-classic Hi Infidelity release. REO followed the track with "Take It On The Run," (#5) "Don't Let Him Go," (#24) and "In Your Letter" (#20.) Hi Infidelity itself also charted at #1, was the top rock album of 1981, and would eventually sell over 9 million copies. Not too shabby, boys!
Looking ahead to the albums that followed Hi Infidelity - Good Trouble, Wheels are Turnin', and Life As We Know It, the 80s were pretty darn kind to REO. The band summarized their career towards the end of the decade with the release of The Hits, which I assume, is a greatest hits compilation.
I'm kidding. It's actually one of the best damn greatest hits compilations known to man.
So what happened after that? REO Speedwagon released The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog, and a Chicken in 1990. The album's failure was pre-encoded in the album title.
But let us not dwell on the failures of REO, and instead, let's remember the good times.
"Keep On Loving You."
You're damn right we will, REO Speedwagon. Damn right.
And that concludes this week's Cage Match discussion, with an important choice now given to your willing and hopefully capable hands.
Cheap Trick or REO Speedwagon - who is it that shall winneth the inaugaral Battle of the Central Illinois Heavyweights?
Give us a piece of your mind in the comments section, that's what it's there for!
Well, what did we learn during last week's battle royale? We learned that a whole lotta people LOVE "Hungry Like The Wolf" by Duran Duran, and not nearly as many are affectionate towards Def Leppard and "Rock of Ages." I was kinda surprised.
This week, we've got a battle pending that is sure to cause debate and plenty of name-calling.
In the left corner, we've got Cheap Trick, hanging out with a little ditty called "Tonight It's You."
In the opposite corner, Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle, who taught us all in 1987 that "Heaven Is A Place On Earth."
Allow me a bit of personal reflection:
I hold a bit of a grudge against Carlisle, for the night that I spent watching her perform at a casino in Milwaukee in early 2003. On that same night, Eric Johnson was also playing in a venue in town. The Dirty Dozen Brass Band were in town, and there were a few other shows playing as well. My friend was working at the local ticket broker, and had a leftover pair of tickets for Carlisle, so off we went to check out the show.
I was kind of stoked at the chance to see Carlisle run through her 80s solo hits, and Go-Go's material. But then that didn't happen - Carlisle came out and performed with instrumental backing tracks (and perhaps a keyboard player on stage as well) and did a bunch of new material, and very few hits, and maybe ONE Go-Go's song. My one evening in Milwaukee, totally wasted.
But that's okay, because later that same year, she got some nice payback from those same backing tracks when there was a little problem with the tapes.
Justice is mine!
Still, in 1987 - I was all about "Heaven Is A Place On Earth," "I Get Weak," "Circle In The Sand," and I think you get the picture.
Carlisle came to mind, because there is an anniversary legacy edition thingamabob on tap for Heaven On Earth, paired with a concert video re-release from the Heaven on Earth tour, on DVD for the first time.
Now, about Cheap Trick - who can say a bad word about Cheap Trick? "Tonight It's You" is a favorite - and I saw them play it live last summer when they were on tour with Journey and Heart. Journey keyboard player/vocalist Jonathan Cain came out to play keys on the track.
You can probably imagine how great it was. But hey, let's get to it, shall we?
The choice is up to you - Cheap Trick vs. Belinda Carlisle - what's your pick? Lemme know in the comments!
Here's the original video for "Heaven Is A Place On Earth" since embedding is disabled.
An interview with Belinda about "Heaven Is A Place On Earth"
Before we get going, I'd like to give a quick blog shoutout that is actually more of a public service announcement: John Gorman's Buzzard Blog has a great piece online now detailing the infamous early history between WMMS and Rush that played a big part in launching the now-legendary Canadian trio. People always want to know "the Rush story," and Gorman's piece does a nice job of putting it out there.
While Rush might not be out on the road this summer, there are plenty of other groups that will be jockeying for your hard earned concert dollars. I've already got commitments for Bonnaroo, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood in Columbus, and probably the annual MixFest in Dayton, OH, which is always a good time. And before you even ask, Virgin Festival is a safe bet as well.
Oh shoot, and U2. Dang, this is going to be an expensive summer. Again.
I was a bit grumpy yesterday in regards to a couple of shows that are skipping Cleveland this summer.
The first one is the "Can't Stop Rockin'" tour with Styx, REO Speedwagon, and .38 Special. If you've read this blog for a decent amount of time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of all three bands. It's been a few years since I've seen REO and .38, and when I heard about this tour, I was stoked. Now, apparently I will be road-tripping with no Cleveland date on the schedule. Styx and REO hit the studio recently to record a song together for the tour, titled appropriately enough "Can't Stop Rockin'" that will be available as a digital download. Check out tour dates for the tour that Styx mainman Tommy Shaw calls "a rock and roll stimulus package."
Next subject: Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. A little birdie told me early in the day that Cleveland was getting skipped on a tour date for NIN/Jane's. And then a set of tour dates slipped out from Blabbermouth.net with a June 21st show at Blossom on the schedule. But now, there's this announcement that the tour dates are "incorrect." I guess we'll have to wait and see for the final outcome on this one.
Speaking of Jane's:
In addition, Rhino has announced that it will release 180-gram vinyl versions of Jane's Addiction's landmark albums 1988's 'Nothing's Shocking' and 1990's 'Ritual De Lo Habitual' to celebrate Record Store Day on April 18.
Andrew Dice Clay and Spinal Tap:
Some interesting shows that ARE coming to Cleveland and other parts of the U.S. - Shock comedian Andrew Dice Clay is out on the road for a set of tour dates that will bring him to Cleveland on May 2nd for a show at the State Theatre. I think that I remember Dice playing a gig at Richfield Coliseum at the height of his popularity...can someone back me up on that one?
The principal members of Spinal Tap - Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer are hitting the road for an "unplugged" tour - Unwigged & Unplugged. Cleveland gets a show at the State Theatre on May 19th, and the other tour dates can be found here at the newly launched website.
Here's some more info from the press release, including this quote from the guys themselves:
“With this being the 25th Anniversary of the film This is Spinal Tap, we thought this would be a fun and at the same
time, a little challenging, as we have never performed as ourselves. Think of the evening as three old friends playing songs in your living room. As opposed to OUR living rooms; we won’t be home.”
Unwigged & Unplugged will feature songs from the original soundtrack This Is Spinal Tap (1984), the studio album Break Like The Wind (1992), and A Mighty Wind (2003) along with some special surprises and rarities thrown in.
Cleveland tix for Unwigged & Unplugged go on sale Friday morning at 10am and the Dice show tickets will be available Friday morning as well, one hour earlier at 10am. Get 'em at livenation.com, playhousesquare.com, and the Playhouse Square box office.
The Mac is Back (Kind Of):
If I can get a 2nd mortgage on my house, I'd love to check out Fleetwood Mac when the "Unleashed" tour hits Cleveland on April 17th at Quicken Loans Arena. Thing is, it's a bit expensive. I saw the Mac for the first and only time on "The Dance" tour....back when Christine McVie was still with the group. I've always thought that that would be a good place to leave the memories....but then I saw this review, and the setlist. Definitely looks good.
Motley Crue and their White Trash Circus:
Motley Crue are hitting the road for a 2nd round of CrueFest dates this summer, dubbed "The White Trash Circus." My ears perked up big time when I heard that the band will be performing the entire Dr. Feelgood album. Dammit, they found the hook I've been looking for. For Clevelanders, the show hits Blossom on July 21st.
That Def Leppard is Poison, Yo:
And now here's the show that originally inspired this post. You've probably heard about Def Leppard and Poison hitting the road this summer with Cheap Trick in the opening slot, right?
Yesterday, I got the extremely quotable press release announcing a Cleveland area date at Blossom on June 25th, which includes this headline:
TICKETS FOR THE CONCERT EVENT OF THE SUMMER GO ON SALE ON FRIDAY, MARCH 6 AT 10AM
With combined sales of 100 Million albums worldwide, 65 million from Leppard alone, fans can expect hits like “Photograph,” “Rock Of Ages,” “C’mon C’mon,” “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Foolin’,” “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak, “Nine Lives,” and countless others creating an evening of rock ‘n’ roll unlike any other this summer.
Was "Nine Lives" a hit? Are there any Leppard fans that want to hear it?
The tour, which kicks off on June 23rd in Camden, N.J, promises an unprecedented night for those in attendance. The show will highlight three decades of music from three of rock ‘n’ roll’s greatest bands for a four-hour interactive concert experience that will begin the moment that the doors open. It will feature Bluetooth technology and delivery, text communications prior to and during performances and a host of interactive offerings. This in addition to an arsenal of nearly 60 Top 40 hits including Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Ride the Wind,” “Somethin’ To Believe In,” and “Nothin’ But A Good Time,” as well as Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender.”
60? Holy crap, that's a lot. Plus, they got to use the word "arsenal."
“I'm very pleased that we are coming back to Cleveland,” said Def Leppard front man Joe Elliott. “We're gonna be touring with some new friends and some old friends and can guarantee it will be the Rock Tour of the summer.”
Thanks Joe, we're looking forward to seeing you too. Remember a couple summers back, when Journey kicked your ass on that same Blossom stage?
Nevermind that....we remember that kick ass show a few years before that at the Gund, where you guys opened up with the entire first side of High n' Dry. That was KICK ASS. Do that again, and Poison will whimper for mercy, every night of the tour.
"There is nothing better than an epic summer concert and this tour is a dream come true for rock 'n' roll fans. It will be a night of a thousand hits with three hard-charging rock bands on the road together," said Poison front man and star of VH1’s top-rated “Rock of Love Bus” reality show Bret Michaels.
Whoa. Hang on now....I just remembered something. Don't you guys hate Def Leppard....and vice versa?
Money talks, I guess.
And you're right, I'd love to see Cheap Trick again!
P.S. For all of you Canadian Music Lovers in Cleveland:
Tragically Hip return to the House of Blues on Sunday, May 31st. Tix are 25 bones and go on sale Friday morning at 10am. T-Hip shows have a habit of selling out quickly here in Cleveland, so don't delay on that purchase if you wanna go.
One final bit for you all:
Saving Abel just scored an opening slot alongside Seether, opening a bunch of shows for Nickelback. The tour began late last week in Nashville and will hit a bunch of cities. Check here to see if your city made the cut. I'd certainly go out to check out Saving Abel (a bright spot in radio last year,imo) and Seether. I caught Saving Abel at last year's Rock On The Range festival in Columbus, and they were great. So you're wondering if I would stick around to see Nickelback? I don't think so....
That's all for now....go see some rock and roll, won't you?
I'm enjoying the closing moments of the weekend after being in the suburbs of Pittsburgh today. I came home to find a link to my friend Michele's "most awesome 80s playlist ever."
For some reason, that made me think of Zander and Wilson, and "Surrender To Me." We don't need first names here. But in case you're confused, I'll tell you that when Cheap Trick and Heart toured together this past summer WITHOUT breaking out "Surrender To Me".......well, I was mad. Actually, I'm still a bit frosted.
Rather than go into my collection for the Tequila Sunrise soundtrack, I decided to hit up Youtube instead. Which is where I found this.
This is where some dude decides to play "Surrender To Me" on his turntable and film it. And film shots of both the front and back jacket of the LP while panning back to reveal......his stereo system. To be fair, it could be a chick....but I'm going to assume that it's a dude.
My blog, my rules.
I'm not judging. I might film something similar myself. Difference is, I wouldn't post it on Youtube.
Actually you're right, I totally would.
Anyway, here's your random 80s flashback for tonight. Enjoy!