Cheap Trick, M.E.N. Arena, 29.11.11.

Rick NielsenI cannot bring myself to relegate such a fantastic outfit as Cheap Trick to a few words as ‘support act’ in the Deep Purple review. So here they are, as co-headliners! 7.30 pm, and as scheduled, on they come and straight into ‘Ain’t that a Shame’, with Neilsen Jnr proving to be an able deputy for Bun E Carlos. No pause for breath as they smash our ears with   ‘Hello there’ and an early blast of ‘California Man’.

It was a good 20 minutes into a high-octane (and disgracefully short) slot before things slowed down with ‘The Flame’. Like Ian Gillan, Robin Zander has taken decent care of his voice, even hitting THAT note in a song which they admit is not a favourite of theirs.

The ‘Dream Police’ and ‘At Budokan’ LPs made up the majority of the set, with ‘Sick Man of Europe’ sounding as brash as it does on their last release.  And after about 45 minutes, that was just about it! The short set was made even shorter when they blew the whole sound during ‘Gonna Raise Hell’. I mischievously suggested to Lady A that Deep Purple had pulled the plug on them for being too good! (And, no, Rick N didn’t bring on one of his 5-neck guitars for ‘Surrender’. Looks great but sounds rubbish!)

I have always loved this lot. I have managed to catch them a few times when they come here and they never fail or disappoint. And why come as a ‘support’ to the likes of Deep Purple? They even ‘supported’ Def Leppard!!  Obviously their accountant must reckon it is worthwhile, but they definitely surprised a few metal fans here, many of whom had probably only heard of ‘I want you to want me’.

More, please! And can you actually find out where Yorkshire is next time gentlemen?

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