Cheap Trick: Boston Paradise

Billy Corgan's fave '80s power pop survivors still prove vital...

Here’s to guilty pleasures. Here’s to Cheap Trick. They’ve survived the ’80s, eked out a living through the ’90s, and crawled over the carcasses of Foreigner and Matthew Sweet on the way to their renaissance. Their reward: to be the influence du jour of not only Marilyn Manson, but of the great Pumpkin himself, Billy Corgan.

It’s clear that tonight’s throng of fleshy heads and graying edges don’t give a damn about shock rock and don’t know a thing about ‘Cherub Rock’ though. That world is too new. These guys have been at home, living on a steady diet of ‘Live At Budokan’, practicing their air guitar.

Cheap Trick aren’t really cheap, just gimmicky. The songs are fast and riffy, indulging often in volleys of soloing and guitar-god theatrics from Rick Nielson and his endless arsenal of custom-made guitars. For the more rhythmically-inclined, there’s also the obligatory sing-along handclap section with the history professor-looking drummer. The trick of it is that they make it work.

The moment nasally singer Robin Zander says “I want YOU, to want ME!” quarrelling about the zeitgeist becomes moot. ‘I Want You To Want Me’ is every bit like spray-can cheese. It’s a disturbing example of human ingenuity and packed with enough preservatives to ensure it’s fresh taste for years to come. They cap it off with ‘Surrender’, a teen anthem that still rings in even middle-aged ears, and slink off to determined applause.

In the end, it’s not about the name-droppers, and it’s not actually anything to be guilty about. They just want us to want them, and apparently, we do.

Ben Wolford