Monday, June 30, 2014

Concert Review: The Drive's 13th Birthday Party Free Concert Celebration (starring Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton!)

When we found out that we couldn't attend this year's Drive Free Concert Birthday Bash, I gave our tickets away to somebody who I knew would really appreciate them ... a real music fan, Mark Baker ... under the condition that he then filed a full report for our readers.  (Mark's history with both of these acts goes back to their hey-day of the '70's and '80's ... so I'm sure it was a REAL treat to see them both again!)  Some of you may remember Mark's concert review from a few years ago of the Paul McCartney concert at Wrigley Field.  

Surprisingly, despite a bunch of pre-concert buzz and anticipation, I didn't hear much about this year's concert after the fact ... other than it was INCREDIBLY loud.  (Kinda weird to hear how LOUD it was ... rather than how GOOD it was!!!  lol)  Mark told me he could feel his pants moving against his leg from the sheer impact of the thumping bass and drums!  (lol)  Not sure just how enjoyable that would be ... but despite some after-concert ear-ringing, it sounds like he still had a pretty good time.  

Read on ...

The Drive's 13th birthday concert at the Rosemont Theatre with Cheap Trick and Peter Frampton was a real treat. I was lucky enough to get two of these giveaway tickets to see two great rock bands / artists from the late 70's thru the 80's, when their music was always on the radio. I got to see Peter Frampton do Frampton Comes Alive at the Super Bowl of Rock at Arlington Park in the 80's ... and that was back when he had the long hair! 

First Cheap Trick came out with a lot of energy.  They started with (Hello There) "Hello there, ladies and gentlemen, Hello there, ladies and gentlemen, are you ready to rock?, Are you ready to rock?" ... what a great way to start a show!  And they looked just  like Cheap Trick ... Rick Nielson with a sport coat, ball cap and square guitar, looking and acting like a geek rocker ... and Robin Zander in black leather jacket, pants and boots with a leather commanders hat on, looking like a biker. 

Their set list was about 12 or 13 songs which included:  Hello There; California Man; Ain't That A Shame; If You Want My Love; a 12 string bass solo; I Want You To Want Me; The Flame; Surrender; Dream Police. 

This was a loud, hard-rocking set ... sometimes TOO loud, as I heard others say in the lobby after the set ... but these guys came to Rock us and they did! Robin Zander sounded great! The guy from Rockford, Illinois, can really sing, as he proved when he sang The Flame! At times he also played a 12 string guitar.  Rick Nielson was sounding great as well, having fun throwing his guitar picks in the crowd and hopping around.  He tossed a Kiss record into the crowd during Surrender.  

As high energy as this show was, only about a quarter of this crowd was really engaged in the show ... most people remained sitting, even after multiple attempts of turning the lights on the crowd and Rick Nielson trying to get people to their feet.  They asked us to sing along with If You Want My Love ... Robin Zander said, "If you know the lyrics, sing them loud ... and if you don't, sing them even louder!" ... and we did! But even so, still less than half the crowd was on their feet.  And then, during an interlude, Zander spun around to the microphone and screamed "I want you to want me!" ... and then EVERYONE was up on their feet rockin'! That was a great moment in the show and everyone was up on there feet for the last three songs! Someone had a comment in the lobby after the set ("Man, we're just a bunch of old people who won't stand up until the the last few songs!") ... and it was true!  

But there is something about this music that we all grew up with and all lived with ... and even though we were all total strangers coming together that night to see Cheap Trick in concert, it was their music that united us ... and we stood and cheered and sang along as one.

Peter Frampton started out his show a little slower ... more of an intimate performance, kicking off with a sound track song ... and then talking to the crowd, praising Cheap Trick and telling us it was great to be there on the first night of his tour. It only took a few songs to get everyone going.  On the fourth song he stopped and said, "Here's a song we released on the radio and it was a big flop until we performed it live" ... and  then he played Show Me The Way and everyone was on their feet singing along.

His set list was about eleven songs, including the opening soundtrack song (not sure of the name?),
Doobie Wha, Lines On My Face, Show Me The Way, a new song from his new album, Heart To My Chest, I'll Give You Money, Baby I Love Your Way, a Sound Garden song ... Black Hole Sun (music only) and Feel Like I Do. 
His encore consisted of two songs:  Day In The Sun (?) and While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles.

Peter put on a great performance, jamming out every song ... it was like a commune of Frampton fans ... everyone was singing along and sometimes he would let the crowd sing the words and he would just echo us. It seems everyone has those lyrics etched in their minds and can easily sing along. He played a song from his new album / CD and talked about how there are no record stores to line up at any more but his album was being released somewhere out there. 

Then he played a Sound Garden tune, Black Hole Sun, a hard rockin' version of an instrumental, and he said after the song that he was a big Chris Cornel fan and wouldn't even try and sing that song but he loves to play it. Then he played Feel Like I Do and broke out the voice box and really jammed that song out. For an encore he came out and played two songs, the last song being While My Guitar Gently Weeps to put a nice finish on the night.

On my way out I heard two guys talking ... one said, "That was a great show" ... and then his friend said, "Great is a strong word, my friend."  I respect his opinion.  The sound in the theater wasn't the best but I think I just saw some great performers putting it all out there playing with great passion for their music and putting on a very entertaining show with some really great music!

My favorite songs of the night were Cheap Trick (The Flame) and Peter Frampton (Lines On My Face and Feel Like I Do). 
-- Mark Baker 

We also heard from Melanie Mordhorst, who recapped the evening this way ...

CHEAP TRICK:  The crowd was filled with old school rockers, professionals and even young urbanites. Once the band took the stage and hit the historic riffs we have grown to love, the crowd was on its feet, clapping and singing along. The sound engineers went a little heavy on the bass but still the performance was outstanding ... from songs we know to singles that didn't hit the charts. Extreme credit to the performers who each performed a solo. The switching of guitars and set up of the stage was seamless. 

PETER FRAMPTON:  In true concert fashion, they saved the best for last. George and crew were outstanding. Frampton showed he still has the passion ... and by the crowd's participation with the songs, you could see it's not the age that matters. All of the performers played with passion and gave life to the auditorium. A fantastic show and performances by all.