Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review of Cheap Trick and Aerosmith at the Staples Center in Los Angeles – December 3, 2012


On Monday night I headed out to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to catch The Global Warming Tour which has two bands I have seen before: Cheap Trick and Aerosmith. I last saw Aerosmith maybe ten years ago in Atlanta and Cheap trick more than fifteen years ago in Irvine, and they were both in their prime from at the time. So, I wondered how these two groups have stood up to the test of time, and it turns out that they are still doing pretty well!

Cheap Trick kicked things off at 7:30 in the evening with “Hello There,” and when I saw Robin Zander wearing a bedazzled ice cream man suit (with a hat, even), I figured they must have hired David Lee Roth to be in the band, but it was just an optical illusion. They went on to blaze through a dozen more songs in their allotted hour, and as expected they managed to throw a few surprises into the show.

I think they have a different set list each night, and they always throw a few cool covers into the mix. This evening they did The Move’s “California Man, and The Beatles’ medley of “Golden Slumbers,” ”Carry That Weight” and “The End.” These songs proved beyond a doubt that Zander still has his singing chops. Aerosmith loaned them keyboardist Russ Irwin for the Beatles’ songs, which was a really nice touch.

Thankfully they did not do the hackneyed ballad, “The Flame,” but at the end of the show they played their biggest hits, including “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender.” They hit the ball out of the park on these, and did a great job of warming up the crowd, who came spilling back in for these last three songs when they heard what was going on. Brad Whitford from Aerosmith joined them on stage for “Surrender” – cool!

Cheap Trick had one notable personnel change: Daxx Nielsen (Rick’s son), was on drums, although their website still lists original member Bun E. Carlos as being in the band. Daxx plays the drums very well, by the way. The rest of the line-up is the same: Robin Zander on vocals, Tom Petersson on his terrible sounding 12-string bass, and Rick Nielsen on guitar (and mugging about the entire time like he is still in junior high school).

While the crew tore down Cheap Trick’s stage the crowd got to watch some handicam footage from backstage, which was a little confusing at best., and then things got going after a commercial about how great the new Aerosmith album is. Does this crowd really need this? Anyway, Staples Center was packed at this point, and the masses were treated to a rousing rendition of “Toys in the Attic” which led straight into “Love in an Elevator.” It was nice they gave us two of their big hits right out of the box, and the band was in good form and Tyler’s voice is still strong, despite the fact that they are all getting pretty old. One downer was that Perry’s guitar was way too quiet on these songs, but they got it fixed for the rest of the show.

Things went about as expected from there, with a mix of music more heavily slanted toward their previous work than their new album (which is pretty good, actually), and the band did a nice job of having video coverage on the screen behind the stage so that everybody could see what was going on. Tyler, Perry and Hamilton did a good job of working all parts of the stage, including the catwalk that extended all the way to the center of the arena. Whitford pretty much stayed put and never made it to my side of the stage.

Aerosmith had a few surprises in store, as Hollywood dreamboat Johnny Depp came onstage with his guitar and played along with cover versions of Fleetwood Mac’s “Stop Messin’ Around” and the Beatles’ “Come Together.” The man can really play the guitar, and he certainly had the outfit and tattoos to fit in on stage with these guys. They should have given him a wireless set-up, though…

They finished up their set with “Walk This way”, and for the encore they dusted off “Dream On”, “Mama Kin” and “Come Together.” Former Guns ‘n Roses rhythm guitar Izzy Stradlin joined in for “Mama Kin,” which surprised me even more than the Johnny Depp thing. All in all, it was one heck of a show, and the crowd was really great (bonus celebrity sightings: Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed).

Granted, these guys all look terrible, as 40+ years in the rock and roll world is an eternity, but they are still rocking like madmen. Check out their Global Warming Tour when it hits your town – it is sure to be a fun-filled evening!


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