It should come as no surprise in my line of work that I attend a lot of shows. Covering mainly the Twin Cities metro area it’s not often a band comes to town to play at a venue I’ve never heard of. Particularly when it’s a band of Cheap Trick‘s ilk. So when it was announced they would be bringing their brand of rock to the Hilde Performance Center in Plymouth, MN., I would shortly discover the mystified expression on my face was shared by everyone I knew. A little web searching informed me that it was an outdoor amphitheater in the NW Twin Cities suburb. I really didn’t need to hear much more. There are few things in life I enjoy more than a cold beer and live music played outdoors.
The venue was quite nice. Almost hidden, the sidewalk leads you through a wooded area that takes you down to a beautifully groomed open grass area with a band shell in the back. And I’m not sure who to thank but the evening weather couldn’t have been better. Cold Grain Belt in hand. A beautiful evening. Bumping into approximately half my Facebook friends in attendance. Bring on Cheap Trick.
The recent Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees are an anomaly of sorts. Having a peak in the seventies and then again in the 80’s they’ve always been a band that was hard to peg. I mean they aren’t metal. Not even hard rock. But I wouldn’t even describe them as a pop band. It’s easier to say they’re Cheap Trick. A quick profile of the crowd, I’d say it was a good mix of Cheap Trick lifers and locals who’s kids are finally old enough to leave home alone without a sitter.
Opening with about half of “Hello There” and then pausing for Rick Neilsen to switch guitars before going right into “Heart On The Line” and followed by “C’mon, C’mon” all seemed right this evening. Then, true to every time I’ve seen this band, things seemed to slow down. It was around the fourth or fifth song the crowd started to mingle with each other or their phones. Which may be a byproduct of the type of show this was. Most concerts I attend you’re discouraged from bringing a chair to sit on. And I’d need to confer with a Cheap Trick expert but does anyone really want to hear them play “Ain’t That A Shame”?
They featured three songs from their recently released record Bang Zoom Crazy Hello. Which I guess I’m ok with. If you’re going to play 19 songs I don’t think it’s out of line to feature some new music. It’s got to help keep the band fresh plus the aforementioned ‘lifers’ seem to enjoy it. Being the veterans of rock they are, of course, they knew they would have the crowd back in their palms at the end of the night when they played their stack of hits. Once the first notes of “The Flame” burst through the PA everyone finished their wine and sang along. And did so from there into “I Want You To Want Me” and “Dream Police” before leaving the stage with all in attendance knowing full well they would soon be out to play “Surrender”. Which of course is exactly what happened.
I had a great time. The Hilde Performance Center is quite cool. But I don’t know it’s a place to see great music. Rock music anyway. It’s too hard to maneuver through all the lawn chairs.
All Photo’s by Marty Lang