In addition to his guitar fireworks, Rick Nielsen wowed the sold-out crowd with his cavalcade of axes.
  • In addition to his guitar fireworks, Rick Nielsen wowed the sold-out crowd with his cavalcade of axes.
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Two days before learning they would join the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2016, Cheap Trick brought their classic power pop to the Belly Up. The band opened the show with the fitting “Hello There” and closed it 90 minutes later with “Goodnight.” In between, they offered a mix of time-honored hits (“I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police”) and deep cuts (“California Man,” “Stiff Competition”).

Composed of three original members — Robin Zander (vocals), Rick Nielsen (guitar), and Tom Petersson (bass) — and Rick’s son, Daxx Nielsen, taking over for Bun E. Carlos on drums, the quartet ripped through 19 songs spanning the band’s 42-year career, with a heavy emphasis on its ’70s heyday.

Zander’s voice was strong, and he had no trouble belting out big songs like “Come On, Come On” and “Baby Loves to Rock.” He only occasionally struggled during more tender moments — as on “The Flame” and the dreamy, high-pitched chorus of “Need Your Love.”

In addition to his guitar fireworks, Nielsen wowed the sold-out crowd with his cavalcade of axes (strapping on a new one, in every imaginable design, for each song) and generously showered the audience with handfuls of picks throughout the show.

The big surprise of the night came near the end, when Nielsen invited Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament to join them on stage. While he seemed ill-prepared and uncertain of what to do, Ament clearly enjoyed lending a groove to “Bang Zoom Crazy Hello” and the anthemic “Surrender.”

  • Concert: Cheap Trick
  • Date: December 15
  • Venue: Belly Up
  • Seats: GA
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