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Rock ‘n roll returns to the Bend

Maureen Bush | Monday, November 24, 2003

Rock and roll remembered Indiana Nov. 20 as rock legends Cheap Trick played the Elco Theatre in Elkhart last Thursday evening to an exuberant crowd of 40somethings. All of the ’70s rockers in the area emerged and gathered together for a night reminiscing times of old, and they didn’t forget their black leather. The show opened with a young New York band named the Damnwells, artist Wayne Kramer and his band, and MC5, and band out of Detroit that was popular in the ’60s and ’70s who sang mostly war protest songs. Following the three excellent opening acts came the main attraction, Rockford, Illinois natives, Cheap Trick. They came out and sat to play an acoustic style set of four songs opening with “Fan Club.” It was a really intimate feeling to have rock stars of this caliber playing so up close and personal in a mid-sized venue where there were no such thing as “bad seats.” The acoustic set also composed of “Don’t Love Here Anymore,” “If I Could” and “Lookout,” was incredible. It was a great and different way to start out the show, as most bands will slow it down towards the middle of the show, which can sometimes cause the concert to drag. This four-song sampling helped to build the excitement for the harder rock to start.After the acoustic set the band took away the chairs as a light smoke started on the stage and an organ was playing until the gentlemen dressed to the nines in suits took the stage in a furry, rocking to a heavy intro into “Just Got Back.” Though guitarist and singer Rick Nielsen’s amplifier wasn’t on through half of the intro, eventually it came back on and sounded great. Nielsen, the character of the band, proved he has still got it as he worked the crowd swaggering back and forth to either side of the stage, jumping, climbing atop the monitors, and throwing about seven guitar picks per song to the crowd. Another interesting thing to note was that Nielsen switched guitars between every single song that the band played, pulling out a striking selection of fine guitars for the crowd to marvel at. The rest of Cheap Trick is rounded out by bassist and vocalist Tom Petersson, guitarist and vocalist Robin Zander and drummer Bun E. Carlos, who all have the excellent stage presence of a band that is confident in what they are doing and how to please the crowd. After all, they have been on tour since 1974. After flying through their first song, they played “Big Eyes,” then before the next song Nielsen stated that that the next song was from “one of the finest movies produced in 25 years, Joe Dirt,” as they played “If You Want My Love.” Between the next few songs a few of the ladies in the front decided to relive their youth by flashing the band as the comment “very nice instruments,” was made. They also mentioned that opening band MC5 had two of their albums listed in Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 Albums and that Cheap Trick had two albums on the list as well. They then played “Pop Drone” and the first single off of their newest release, “Special one” called “My Obsession.”The intro to “I Want You To Want Me,” caused fans to shriek with delight and dance as Cheap Trick played the song that almost every band under the sun has remade since it was first released in 1977. The high energy continued during the next few songs as they ripped through “Best Friend,” “I Know What I Want,” “Words,” and “Never Had A Lot To Lose,” all of which had a very strong sound to them. That led them to a song many grew up with: “Flame.” This was a highlight for many because many enjoyed reliving their youths openly and through the sounds of the music. They finished up with the theme song to “That ’70s Show” and fan favorite “Surrender” before exiting the stage as a man tried to get on stage to go back. He was quickly apprehended by the Elkhart police and after he was taken off the stage the band returned to play their last three songs of the evening. There was a huge reaction to the first track off Special One called “Scent of A Woman” as Nielsen climbed up on the monitors and jumped around as the crowd excitedly cheered him on. Following that they played “Dream Police,” and finished up the night for good with “Goodnight.” As the show ended they all stood there for a while taking in the crowd before saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you! Hope to see you next year!” This was an excellent show and an excellent tour for a band that never seems to take a break. It is obvious that they love what they are doing and that their music transcends time as their loyal fans were there backing them through the whole show. It was refreshing to see a show where there were not huge amounts of fancy lights or props up on stage, just good old fashioned rock music that sounded good enough to make any critic smile. This was just a band and their fans having an unforgettable night together in the most unlikely of towns. Many hope rock and roll remembers Indiana again soon.