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Monday, August 30, 2010

Cheap Trick / Blondie Live at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI

Cheap Trick / Blondie Live at DTE Energy Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI.
Friday 27th August 2010

Cheap Trick

(Image from

So this is a double header tour of two popular bands, Cheap Trick and Blondie who both broke through in the late 70’s and cracked the markets on a bigger scale in the 80’s.
This tour runs with the two acts switching headlining roles each night, depending on how their popularity is judged in each location / area.

The good news is, each band has agreed upon the rule of them sharing the time equally, by both having 75 minute sets. How jolly decent of each of them then!
Cheap Trick – Like Blondie – have amassed a bunch of chart hits behind them over the years and with 16 studio albums behind them 5 being Top 40 Billboard chart hits, another 5 just outside the Top 40 Billboard ratings and a number of huge hit singles behind them, this should be a great show.

Last time I saw Cheap Trick play in Detroit, it was in a different location and a gig where they headlined and had about another 5 opening acts playing with them.
When they hit the stage that night, the sound mix was absolutely terrible and we left the show early as it was that bad, sadly and that was my first Cheap Trick show.

In Detroit last night, it was a different story altogether, the sound was impressive and it’s outdoors as well!
Rick Nielsen, what a funny guy, entertainer and impressive player and singer Robin Zander, sounding quite the voice, no problems tonight and although he looked like he was straining sometimes, the vocals were just fine.
Tom Petersson is still there too on bass / vocals, but no Bun E. Carlos this time, Daxx Nielsen is his replacement on the road.

As the lights go down, an intro tape runs with a Japanese commentary voice, then Transformers, then a Simpsons snippet sketch piece and what sounded like Abu of the Simpsons singing Dream Police and so on … You get the picture!

The band opens with ‘Way of the World,’ which sounds great and the band look so happy just to be playing here!
Rick Nielsen starts with his distribution of ‘all’ his guitar picks, which he continues to do throughout the set.
You should’ve seen his microphone stand, loaded with picks before the band came out, incredible!
As I say, the guy can certainly throw these directionally accurate to a tee! Impressive!

I have to add also that Tom Petersson’s sparkly bass guitar with the different crescent moons and stars is very tasty indeed. Very flash, very desirable!
As I mentioned before, Robin Zander’s voice is spot on tonight, guitars sound great and drums, plenty good enough!
This show has already started way better than the last time I saw the band live.

‘Hello There (Ladies and Gentlemen)’ is next, followed with very little delay by ‘Come On, Come On’ and then probably their best known hit anywhere in the world, ‘I Want You To Want Me.’ Quite the start!

After this Rick then stops to talk briefly to the crowd and of course adds, ‘It’s great to be here in Michigan, yeah!’
Then it's ‘These Days’ a newer track from the bands latest album, simply titled ..., ‘The Latest!’

Clearly Rick is really loving it tonight, grinning like a Cheshire cat, changing guitars in every other song, but not due to problems, simply because the man loves to show off his guitar collection and of course ..., continues to share his guitar picks!!

Next they go back to the 80’s with ‘Looking Out for Number One,’ then ‘House is Rocking' closely followed by ‘Need Your Love.’
The band are really clearly trying to get as many songs into the set as possible without stopping, as the breaks for audience chat are very few and far between and the music continues with ‘Voices,' the fourth song of the evening so far from the ‘Dream Police’ album.

The band recently played a whole load of shows in Las Vegas paying tribute to the Beatles, with their ‘Sgt. Pepper Live Show’ and will do the same again in September with another run of 6 shows there. So along those lines, they play ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ next to a great response.

Diving back into the 70’s with album track ‘Ballad of TV Violence,’ before another album track ‘Baby Loves To Rock’ and I must say the audience is seeming to be a little disappointed and isn’t responding that great at this point.
I even heard someone behind me say to someone, ‘Why don’t they play their better known songs?’

Next from ‘The Latest’ comes ‘Sick Man of Europe’ and still not the greatest response from the crowd here, then another from the same album in ‘Closer - The Ballad of Burt and Linda.’

OK, the crowd is back in sync with the band as ‘Surrender’ is pumped out to close the set. Great stuff!

They then come back out for an encore featuring first ‘Dream Police’ and then ‘Goodnight (Ladies and Gentlemen.)’ with Rick showing off his multi-necked guitar!

There’s clearly no doubting this great band as a live act, Rick Nielsen alone is value for money and with the bands talent for writing great songs, it all sounds good.

On the down side tonight for the occasional Cheap Trick fan or someone just giving them a chance tonight, perhaps a few more of their better known tracks interspersing the album tracks would’ve gone down better.
I mean for the die hard Cheap Trick fan the set list was probably fine, but to be honest, where was ‘The Flame,’ ‘If You Want My Love,’ ‘Stop This Game,’ ‘Tonight It’s You’ and I could go on, I mean ‘The Flame’ was a number 1 hit, so from that point of view it was a little disappointing, but otherwise very entertaining.
Rating: 4 out of 5
The band’s website:


Blondie is an act I remember very well from their success in UK back in the late 70’s and clearly, some of the hits in the UK were not as popular here in their native USA, from what I can gather just talking to people.
The stage set resembled a graffiti scrawled ghetto location – Graffiti backdrop.
The current band features just two original members alongside Debbie Harry in Clem Burke on drums and Chris Stein on guitars and Clem Burke I will say was impressive.

The band opened with a new song ‘D-Day’ before getting back to what everyone knows, with ‘Hanging on the Telephone,’ went down great.

The next track was a new one that I had no idea of what it was called, it sounded like ‘Headless Pearl’ or something like that, with a riff that sounded like the Rolling Stones ‘Miss You.’
Another new song next, I think that was called ‘Love Doesn’t Frighten Me’ and I will say that Debbie Harry voice still sounds good but she’s looking a little clumsy in some of her moves. Not sure how to dance to some of the tracks.

Her comeback hit of a few years back in ‘Maria’ was next and sounded good with her new lead guitar playing ripping the riff like a crazy man! This boy can play! He totally rocked the evening and was outshining Ms. Harry a lot of the evening by all accounts. Ms. Harry standing in the side wings of the stage very often, letting the younger star shine it seemed. I think it could be Tommy Kessler, but I could be wrong ….?
More new material in – I think, she didn’t announce many of her new tracks … - ‘What I Heard,’ then another that wasn’t familiar either.

Then a better known track in ‘Atomic,’ yes the crowd loved it and to be honest were pretty appreciative of her new material too. Again, the new guitar man shines as he really makes the most of his solo opportunity.
‘The Tide Is High’ next and the crowd is very happy. I think Cheap Trick would’ve won over more of the crowd with a few more better know tracks rather than album tracks that didn’t have much impact.

(Image from
Debbie Harry then tells us that her new album, ‘Panic Of Girls’ that they’re playing a number of songs from as they feel they are great and need to be heard, will be coming out … Sometime!
She also added that while it’s great to be playing with Cheap Trick, they are really looking forward to going out and touring Australia with Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders).

Back to the songs and another oldie in ‘Rapture’ which I think we can possibly thank – or curse! – her for encouraging so much of ‘that’ genre around today. Sorry, but I can’t stand rap music. There, I said it!

Back to the newer stuff as we get a track called ‘Mother.’ Sounds a good song, it really does.
Then ‘Call Me’ which actually doesn’t come across with the impact of the original song, which is surprising live, but it really doesn’t.
Then they close their set with ‘One Way or Another.’
They came back out for an encore but I really didn’t know it and it was time to go.

Blondie sounded alright and seemed to win tonight’s audience over slightly better by crowd response than Cheap Trick and again, I think it was only down to the way the songs were divided up that did it.
I’d never seen Blondie live before and sure, she’s not as young as she used to be, but the band backing her is very strong and she still has the voice and tonight sported a completely peroxide ‘white’ not blonde head of hair.
Come on, it must’ve been a wig!
So, good luck to them with the new album, when it comes out.

A good set, a better introduction of the songs would’ve helped more of the crowd and I don’t know about Debbie Harry’s stage moves and I know she’s not as young as she was, but sometimes she looks strange, robotic even, but the band just edged Cheap Trick tonight, which for me was a shame, as I would’ve loved to have heard some of their better known tracks, as would’ve the crowd it seemed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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