Carrie-Anne and I saw the iconic 70s and 80s rock band Cheap Trick last night at the wonderful Wagner-Noel Performing Arts Center here in Midland. Well, it’s more accurate to say that I went to the concert and Carrie-Anne lovingly, dutifully, and patiently accompanied me without complaint. We concluded after the show that Cheap Trick was popular when C-A was listening to Top-40 on Z-97 and I was listening to rock on The Zoo and Q-102. The only two songs she recognized were “I Want You To Want Me” and “Surrender,” which they played back-to-back to close out the concert.
I asked the guy behind us to take a picture of C-A and me during the show. These are the two he managed to take.
Cheap Trick is a fun show, man. Four blistering guitars, one driving drum, and Robin Zander’s unmistakable voice tearing through short, riffy, punk-ish hits like “Dream Police” and “Southern Girls” and sing-along ballads like “If You Want My Love,” and their original take on Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That A Shame” which I absolutely cannot hear too many times. In fact, take three minutes right now and watch their “Ain’t That A Shame” video. You’ll love it.
Zander’s voice still sounds exactly the same and guitarist Rick Nielsen is still a goofball with his gimmicky five-neck guitar and continuous self-deprecating gestures and dad jokes.
Last night was the fourth or fifth time – maybe sixth – I’ve seen Cheap Trick in concert. I’ve lost the exact count because, as my brother Keith reminded me last week, Cheap Trick is usually the opening band, not the headliner. The first time I saw them was in college when the KATT in Oklahoma City sponsored a free concert downtown. We saw them in the early ’90s when three of us siblings were married and we six dragged Keith to Fair Park in Dallas to see Joe Walsh, with Cheap Trick as the opening act. Keith and his family dragged me along to see them again four years ago when they and Bad Company opened for ZZ Top’s 50th anniversary concert in Austin. I think I saw them at one Texxas Jam. And I know I saw them at Reunion Arena in the ’80s opening for somebody. It wasn’t Bryan Adams. It might have been The Firm or Tom Petty – I can’t remember.
Those guys are all in their ’70s, but they still put on an ear-splitting rock and roll show that featured all their hits, a couple of fun B-sides, a Beatles cover, and the requisite shout-outs to “Midland, Texas!!” in just under two hours. The Wagner is a great venue, Cheap Trick is still a great band, and it was a really great night.