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Cheap Trick and 38 Special Rock the River

Peoria, Illinois

Tom Petersson and Daxx Nielsen of Cheap Trick. Photo by Brittany Lambright. 

Cheap Trick has been hitting the road hard this summer, especially in the Midwest, where they started playing in local clubs all those years ago. They were especially welcomed in Peoria, Illinois.

The outdoor venue on the Mississippi River is just about two hours from where the band started in Rockford and they packed the grounds on a perfect summer evening. Another blast from the past, 38 Special, warmed the audience before their arrival.

Cheap Trick Proves We’re All Alright

It’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years on tour when you see these guys rocking the stage. Original members Rick Nielson, Tom Petersson*, and Robin Zander are still around, with only Bun E. Carlos gone, replaced by Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son.

Last year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction seemed to peak the band’s resurgence as they have released a new album for the second year in a row. We’re All Alright! a reference to a line in the song “Surrender,” reinforces that point as the first time in 20 years the group has released albums two years in a row (a third, a Christmas album, is actually coming out this December).

Cheap Trick is one band that makes few changes from their set list from concert to concert and the Peoria event was no different. In fact, the audience seems to enjoy being prepared for what’s coming next, all of which are as welcome for sing-alongs as guessing which guitar Rick Nielson is going to pull out next.

It always starts with “Hello There” and finishes with “Goodnight,” but it was the long guitar by Rick Nelson and bass player Tom Petersson that draw some of the loudest cheers. This was especially true during “Ain’ t That a Shame,” when all eyes and dancing feet turned to the stage.

The hit ballad “The Flame” brought a calm to the warm night as the slow dances could be seen through the packed crowd, but it quickly turned back with “I Want You to Want Me” and “Dream Police” before they finished with “Good Night.”

The only complaints heard as everyone smiled their way to the exit was that two Budweiser tents ran out of beer.

*Look for an upcoming one-on-one interview with Cheap Trick bass guitar player Tom Petersson.

38 Special Got the Party Started

Another 80s rock band opened the show and it was a perfect compliment to Cheap Trick. The crowd knew all the 38 Special songs and the cheering and singing got the evening started.

The band is still led by Don Barnes, Anny Chauncey, Gary Moffatt, and Bobby Capps, with bassist Barry Dunaway, a new member. Their set included hits, “Caught Up in You,” “Back Where You Belong,” and “Second Chance,” but the loudest applause came for two of their most famous songs: “Rockin’ Into the Night” and “Hold On Loosely.”

The Venue

The Peoria Riverfront is a perfect summer venue, offering a large space to spread out. The Mississippi offers nice breezes on hot summer nights. In addition to food trucks and tents, beer and cocktails are available for purchase.

More from Cheap Trick and 38 Special...

Cheap Trick Performing "The Flame" in Peoria, Illinois, July 7, 2017.

38 Special Sings "Second Chance"

38 Special performing "Second Chance."

Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick

Photo by Brittany Lambright. 

Robin Zander of Cheap Trick

Photo by Brittany Lambright

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