Squeeze and Cheap Trick entertain at the Pavilion

A review of Squeeze and Cheap Trick at the Bank of America Pavilion on July 14, 2010

, Contributing Writer

On a warm Wednesday evening, several thousand fans gathered to see two of the world’s most accomplished power pop acts team up at Boston’s Bank of America Pavilion. The latest lineup of Squeeze, with their American twins Cheap Trick (both were formed in 1974), put on a decent show – nothing spectacular, nothing crazy, but a pleasant reminiscence of that ‘70s Popwer-Pop/New Wave rock that defines both bands.

Cheap Trick opened with the hit from 1979’s Dream Police, “Way Of The World”, as the crowd slowly filtered into the venue. The band’s Americanized power pop relies heavily on the constantly present riffs and solos of guitarist Rick Nielsen and the vocal versatility of Robin Zander. While Zander demonstrated his range through the gentle “Closer, The Ballad Of Burt And Linda” and the more dynamic “Goodnight Now”, which served as the set’s encore, Nielsen’s impressive yet repetitive fretwork likely grew stale to some. That’s not to say the quirky guitarist is a burden to the band, however; frequently addressing the crowd, showering the front row with literally hundreds of guitar picks, and finally teasing fans that he wasn’t sure if they wanted an encore, he is the catalyst which gives Cheap Trick its stage presence. And his use of numerous distinctive guitars was entertaining to watch. Between his use of a yellow square-bodied instrument, one with an odd checkered pattern and many more, he must have played nearly a dozen over the course of the night – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as the man has a collection of over 250 at home. He finally whipped out a five-necked guitar for the encore and even posed with it, presenting a very photogenic image for fans. Though this last instrument was mostly for show – he only played on two of the five necks – his constant barrage of varying guitars kept things sporadic and exciting.

Cheap Trick broke out one of their fan favorites early, playing “I Want You To Want Me” only a few songs into the set, but saved perhaps their most popular hit, “Surrender” till the last song before the encore; which makes sense, as the crowd’s vivacity was near its peak. But the energy actually worked against the band – Zanders and Nielsen were so frenzied and enthused that it seemed they were competing against each other instead of playing together, resulting in a hectic cacophony that made the song barely distinguishable.

For diehard Cheap Trick fans, the set also included “Sick Man Of Europe”, “Baby Loves To Rock”, “Ballad Of T.V. Violence” and a cover of The Beatles’ “Magical Mystery Tour”. The entirety was a high-energy show which left the crowd pumped and primed for the band’s English counterparts. The differences between Cheap Trick and Squeeze complemented well to create a smooth succession to present Boston with the best of the power pop genre.

Squeeze got the crowd involved right from the start as the catchy melody of “Black Coffee In Bed” had fans swaying back and forth. lead singer and guitarist Glenn Tilbrook held the microphone out, encouraging the audience to belt out several of the song’s lines. It was impressive to see the crowd still enjoying themselves through a complete shift of the atmosphere; though the frenzied screaming and cheering present through Cheap Trick’s set was gone, the excitement remained. Drummer Simon Hanson and keyboard player Stephen Large each provided a brief solo, then the band continued through the funky “Take Me I’m Yours” (which featured some pretty eccentric dance moves from Large) and “Annie Get Your Gun”. The tempo slowed and fans took their seats as Tilbrook took the spotlight to sing “When The Hangover Strikes”, a bluesy piece that one would expect to find in a lounge setting.

It was Tilbrook who most frequently enjoyed the spotlight through most of the show; he is truly talented in his ability to provide both lead vocals and guitar. While Difford strummed rhythm parts all night, Tilbrook took the lead with the melodies and solos. While his fretwork isn’t staggering by any means, he did provide some decent solos in songs like “Loving You Tonight”, “It’s So Dirty”, and “Cool For Cats”. It wasn’t until the former that Difford took his turn in the spotlight, delivering the quirky lyrics that had the crowd up and dancing. The song ended with a solo from Large, who momentarily forsook the keyboard and instead played on a computer touchscreen, his fingers flying over the monitor with a deftness that brought the virtual keys to life. Squeeze did a good job maintaining the dance atmosphere, as Difford sang “Someone Else’s Heart” and Tilbrook took over once again for fan favorite “Up The Junction”. The English band ended the main set with “Tempted”, then returned for an encore which featured “Another Nail In My Heart” and, of course, “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)”.

It was clear that the fans enjoyed the chance to hear in concert the songs that have helped define power pop for the past few decades. When you go to a Squeeze or Cheap Trick concert, you know exactly what you’re getting, and the crowd was not disappointed. Squeeze may not have the same energy that Cheap Trick brought to the stage, but they certainly have studio material to work with, and the marriage of both band’s specialties provided for an entertaining night.

Leave a Reply