It was a perfect Melbourne night as the iconic Palais Theatre came into view. The crowd that was streaming in were of the older demographic, with many still stuck decades in the past. Mullets were prevalent, with plenty of ‘business up front party in the back’ styles getting around. Cheap Trick bomber jackets were worn with pride, with all of us having one thing in common, a love of fine rock and roll. The merch line was long with the punters grabbing a memento to take home and treasure, many throwing their newly purchased t-shirts straight on happy to fork out some hard earned cash for the coveted keepsake. With that said it was time to take my seat and settle in for the warm-up entertainment.
It was local Melbourne lads Dallas Crane opening the nights’ proceedings, if you haven’t heard of them, climb out from the rock you have been hiding under and enjoy some of the local talents. Opening with Wrong Party the boys were off and running, their sound is loud and brash, and boy did I like it! With an alternative rock vibe and raspy vocals of Dave Larkin they gave us a kick arse 45 minute set including No Through Road, Come Clean and Ladybird. Guitarist Pete Satchell even taking to the microphone for So It Goes. Steve Pinkerton was a machine on the drums, keeping everyone on track and having an absolute blast. A ripping cover of Led Zeppelin’s Rock and Roll was added to the setlist, with the punter’s heads nodding in approval. Co-founding member and bass player Chris Brodie showcasing his talent in this triple ARIA award nominated band that have been churning out top-class music since 1996. With the weather warming up it was clear that Dave got the message, with ‘suns out guns out’ not lost on him, with his sleeves rolled up just a little higher than the norm he enjoyed warming up the crowd, engaging well and lapping up the applause and cheers. After a small guitar strap mishap that even gaffa tape couldn’t fix, the Melbourne boys saw their set out with Dirty Hearts to loud whistles and cheers. So, if you are looking for some Aussie rock to scope out, get down to the Gasometer on the 17th November and check these guys out, you will not be disappointed.
After a short ‘refreshment’ break it was time for the party to ramp up a level, with many standing in anticipation, excitement running deep in the long devoted fans. As the lights dropped the theatre rose as one, now all standing not wanting to miss a minute. The legendary Cheap Trick blasted onto the stage opening with Hello There, followed by You Got It Going On and Big Eyes to name a few, it was a feast of hits, with hundreds to choose from over their illustrious career. If You Want My Love a definite fan favourite with phones whipped out for a sneaky video, following up with She’s Tight and a fantastic cover of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, the Palais turned into a delightful rainbow of lighting that was matched perfectly to the quirky English ditty. Fats Domino’s Ain’t That A Shame even getting a run, leading into The Summer Looks Good On You, once again the lighting was magnificent as the stage turned a golden hue. Rick Nielsen was firing on all cylinders, and we would never have known he was unwell until we were told. He gave an amazing performance with his trademark guitar changes coming thick and fast. Cap, chequered jacket and guitar strap adding to his ensemble. His guitar picks flying at warp speed even by the handful at one stage, showering the punters, hands greedily grabbing what they could. With rock royalty running in his veins Rick’s son Daxx Nielsen was an animal on the kit, his skin hitting was perfection, his sticks an extension of his body. The apple not falling very far in the Nielsen family tree.
Vocalist Robin Zander looked fit and fresh, sporting a very cool hat and sparkly jacket and pants to match, looking much younger than his birth certificate would indicate. The renowned frontman working the stage with ease, winning over hearts and sounding incredibly good, age definitely not a factor in his performance. The setlist was the perfect mix of the last 40 years and after Stop This Game bass player Tom Petersson gave us a short but sweet solo, he pulled his bandana up masking his face cutting quite a harrowing figure. He then went on to sing a cover of I’m Waiting For The Man (Velvet Underground).
As the stage cleared Robin returned with his acoustic guitar, the familiar opening bars of The Flame rang out, breathtaking from start to finish, the fans were left gobsmacked, Robin hitting the high notes with ease. I do believe that lighting can make or break a show, tonight’s show was a triumph of all things illuminated and full credit to the techs they absolutely nailed it! I Want You To Want Me had the place hopping and Dream Police nearly tore the roof off the theatre, the punters losing their minds hearing one of Cheap Trick’s most loved hits. We had a sing-a-long with Never Had A Lot To Lose from the brilliant album Lap Of Luxury but still there was more to come. Knowing the strict noise curfews in place at The Palais there was no mucking around, the band were back and smashing out Surrender much to our delight. Rick threw out two signed albums complete with aerodynamic guitar picks strategically placed to aid the journey into the crowd, and two lucky fans nabbed the souvenir of a lifetime. Goodnight Now saw out the night right on time as the band took a well-deserved bow to exhilarating applause. With promises to return next year, I was left pondering the enormity of the show I had just witnessed. Cheap Trick by name but definitely not by nature, no expense was spared to make this a most spectacular night, and I was left feeling like the richest girl in the world!
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale