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Cheap Trick – Silver (DVD Review)

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Whenever a band, whose debut album you actually remember buying when it first came out, is celebrating their 25th anniversary together, it might be a good time to think about writing that will. I mean, it seems like it was just yesterday when At Budokan took over the world, and "Surrender" was all you heard on the radio. I remember practically living at this old ice skating rink/pool hall (nice combo huh) back in 1979, and dumping way too much of my measly allowance into the jukebox to hear "Ain’t That A Shame" again as I vehemently tried to top my high score on the Asteroids machine.

I finally got to see this legendary band in person back in 1998 when they headlined Pensacola, Florida’s annual SpringFest celebration, and they made me feel like I was that excited 12 year old all over again. If I remember correctly they replicated their entire original At Budokan set, which made it that more special. A year later and Cheap Trick was officially celebrating their 25th anniversary with a landmark performance filmed in their hometown of Rockford, Illinois, on August 28, 1999, which also means that, as of this writing, they have already surpassed their 30th anniversary as a band. This puts them in a pretty exclusive fraternity. Rush and Aerosmith are the only other bands that quickly come to mind, who still have their original lineups in tact, and have been around since at least 1975. I’ll overlook the fact that Neil Peart didn’t come along until Rush album #2.

Cheap Trick pulls out all the stops with this show, as they perform at least one song from each of their 13 studio albums, and they invite several guests to help them do it. Along with Slash, and about twenty (or so it seemed) members of Rick Nielson and Robin Zander’s family joining them on stage throughout the evening, fellow Chicagoans Billy Corgan (still a Smashing Pumpkin at the time) and Art Alexakis (Everclear) each joined them for a song. A local orchestra, choir and drum corp also helped out quite nicely on some of the songs. It was especially cool of them to invite John Brant, who replaced bassist Tom Petersson on their 1982 album One On One, to perform on the two songs chosen from that album.

Silver kicks off fittingly with the Fat’s Domino classic "Ain’t That A Shame" a song they completely hijacked on At Budokan and turned into one of their most cherished hits. There is no teasing going on here as they launch right into the In Color classic "I Want You To Want Me" followed by "Oh, Candy", the first single from their self titled debut album from 1977. From here they simply pick and choose favorites from each of their albums with some of the highlights being "Voices" and "Gonna Raise Hell" from Dream Police, a killer "You’re All Talk", where a completely hammered looking Slash (isn’t he always?) breaks a string out of excitement about ten seconds into the song, and has to switch to one of Nielson’s spare Les Pauls. Nielson wryly comments after the song, "that guy is pretty good". Of course Heaven Tonight’s "Oh Claire" bleeding into "Surrender", with Nielson wielding his 5-neck guitar monstrosity around like it was a frigging ukulele, was an absolute show stopper.

The concert was broken up into two long sets followed by a three song encore totaling just over two hours. Twenty nine songs were performed including three great covers that are not easily found elsewhere. Fans of That 70’s Show will recognize Cheap Trick‘s cover of the Big Star classic "In The Street", and I was pleasantly surprised to see them tackle the John Lennon Double Fantasy song "I’m Losing You", which members of the band originally played on. With Rick Nielson’s son Miles helping out on guitar and vocals and Zander lending some of his most passionate vocals, this raw and heavy version is worthy of becoming a new Cheap Trick concert staple.

The production quality of this DVD is a mixed bag. Although almost everyone has complained about the poor video quality of this DVD, they are correct, I also heard many complaints about the audio quality. I found the audio to be outstanding. The mix provided excellent instrument separation and the vocals were clear and distinct, although there was an intermittent problem with the audio sync. Nothing too troubling though. The picture was mostly dull and grainy, with an inexcusable amount of blurry shots. Much of this can be attributed to the 8mm hand-held footage that was mixed in throughout the show, but the main camera work was nothing to brag about either. The poor stage lighting made matters even worse. At times you could barely see the musicians it was so dark. I think they seriously underestimated what it would take to properly light this large stage in this outdoor park setting.

Bonus features are aplenty here and include a half-hour interview/documentary, a short behind-the-scenes feature, a photo gallery, and a discography. The main feature also includes a very cool post-production add-in, where during the beginning of each song a small picture of the album that the song is from, along with the song title, is displayed for a few seconds along the top of the screen. Very nice. Keep it simple, make it useful, and stay the hell out of the way. If only all producers knew this.

Although the overall quality of this DVD was a slight disappointment, you couldn’t ask for a better career retrospective of this legendary American band. Robin Zander is easily one of the best pop-rock vocalists of all time, and he has lost little power after more than 25 years of relentless touring. Rick Nielson remains the consummate eccentric, hinted at by the foot-long, pony-tailed, goatee hanging from his chin, but he is also one of the most electrifying guitarists of our time. Is it time to start talking Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for this band?

Set List
Ain’t That A Shame
I Want You To Want Me
Oh, Candy
In The Street (That 70’s Song)
If You Want My Love
She’s Tight
Can’t Stop Fallin’ Into Love
Gonna Raise Hell
I Can’t Take It
Take Me To The Top
It All Comes Back To You

Tonight It’s You
Time Will Let You Know
World’s Greatest Lover
The Flame
Stop This Game
Dream Police
I Know What I Want
Woke Up With A Monster
Never Had A Lot To Lose
You’re All Talk
I’m Losin’ You
Hard To Tell
Oh Claire
Just Got Back
Day Tripper
Who D’ Kingbr>

Performance 8/10
Production 6/10

Read all of my DVD concert reviews at Roy’s Reviews


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About Paul Roy

  • SFC Ski

    I too bought the Budokan album when it debuted, and it still rocks today. THanks for the tip, I’ll look out for the DVD.

  • just got this one on discount from Amazon.com, and dug it – great solid performance, and I don’t mind the camerawork…great package all around in my book.