Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Old Hits Sound Just Fine Out on the Lawn

Concert Review

Cheap Trick and Squeeze
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Ravinia Festival, Highland Park, IL

Both Cheap Trick, from Rockford, Illinois, and Squeeze, from London, England, technically date back to 1974, and while Cheap Trick especially has remained consistently active and has released a pair of solid albums over the past 5 years, it's fair to say that both bands' classic periods were pretty much over by the early '80s.

And I feel pretty safe in assuming that it is the hits from 1977-82 that the folks who packed the pavilion and lawn at Ravinia on Saturday night came out to hear--and speaking as a lawngoer--most appreciated.

For while I respect the fact that both bands went a bit beyond their greatest hits, from the lawn the new and otherwise unrecognizable songs all kind of sound the same. Or more correctly, they get lost among the chattering, eating, drinking, Scrabble games, etc. That's how it is at Ravinia, and with due deference to the bands and the fans who ponied up for pavilion seats, the open air, non-sloped lawn environment--i.e. no stage visibility unless you stand at the outskirts of the pavilion, which I did for a few choice tunes from each act--isn't exactly the place where an adventurous set list goes over real well.

So while both Cheap Trick and Squeeze, by virtue of their careers and the 75-minute set each played, deserve to be judged individually, based on being one of the laissez-faire on lawn, I am awarding @@@@ as a sum review of the evening--a completely beautiful night--and the performances of both bands.

Though neither act sounded quite as they did in their prime, both Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Squeeze's Glenn Tillbrook did nothing to embarrass themselves vocally. And while both bands played a number of songs that seemed to meander to those of us on the lawn, when it came to the hits both bands delivered in quantity and quality, with Up the Junction, Tempted and Pulling Mussels from a Shell highlighting the Squeeze set and I Want You To Want Me, Surrender and Dream Police being CT nuggets. I also savored Cheap Trick pulling out "Voices" (off the Dream Police album) as their first encore, before closing the show with Dream Police.

All in all, a quite enjoyable evening, with enough great music to more than justify my $22 Lawn admission. And to the two people who told me that longtime Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos didn't perform with them because he had died, happily you are wrong. According to Wikipedia and all other sources, Bun E. is still alive and still a member of the band; he's just been replaced on this tour by Daxx Nielsen (son of guitarist Rick) because of back problems.

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