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Cheap Trick in Reno (photos)


What can be said about Cheap Trick that hasn’t already been said? They are icons of rock ‘n’ roll, formed in 1973 and reaching massive success in Japan by 1977. Opening for Queen brought them “Beatlemania”-level attention from the press and fans in Japan. 

Soon after, they achieved huge success in the United States with their 1979 live album, Cheap Trick at Budokan, which is located in Japan. They have been a formidable presence in rock music ever since.

Cheap Trick played to a sold out show in the Atlantis Casino’s Ballroom Saturday night, Nov. 27. 

I arrived at The Atlantis over an hour ahead of show time, and the lobby was packed. The will-call line wound around the lobby and past the ballroom doors, but it moved incredibly fast. Kudos to the Atlantis staff.

For this tour, Cheap Trick is a family affair with guitarist Rick Nielsen’s son, Daxx, on drums (as usual since 2010), and guitarist/lead singer Robin Zander’s son, Robin Taylor Zander, filling in on bass for Tom Petersson, who is recuperating from open heart surgery. Two pair and a full house! How about that! Get well Tom!

After roughly 48 years of playing together, it was no surprise that Cheap Trick’s audience was primarily of AARP age, yours truly included. However, the age range of fans on hand also included a younger crowd. There was plenty of enthusiasm as the band took to the stage–a lot of shouting, devil horns and cell phone cameras in the air.

They started off hot and heavy with Hello There, Hot Love, and Lookout

I find it hard to focus on the sound during the opening songs while I’m trying to get some good photographs, but after I took my seat and started listening more closely I was struck by the cacophony. The sound didn’t seem to be quite right. Since I started covering rock concerts years ago with no ear protection, and am still paying the price, I tend to doubt my own ears, but I heard similar observations from others. I’m not sure where the responsibility lay, but it was unfortunate. 

Ain’t That A Shame really struck a hot spot with the crowd, getting most of the room on their feet. Robin Taylor got his moment to shine taking center stage on vocals in Downed

From here the excitement ramped up as the band worked the crowd up to the big pre-encore, finally, of Dream Police. As usual, the finale was Goodnight, the moment of the show when Rick Nielsen whips out his big five-neck guitar–which has to be a heavy burden for anybody, let alone a 72 year old rocker. That brought out an unbelievable forest of cell phone photographers. It’s a great punchline for a fun rock ‘n’ roll band.

Despite the audio issues, it was a great evening out. Being at a big-time live concert with friends and a crowd of like-minded fans was fun. I recommend everybody get out and enjoy some live music. It fuels the soul and clears the mind, and I think we could all use a little bit of that these days.

Set List

  •   Hello There
  •   Hot Love
  •   Lookout
  •   Big Eyes
  •   California Man
  •   Ain’t That A Shame
  •   Yeah Yeah
  •   On Top Of The World
  •   Boys & Girls & Rock N Roll
  •   Need Your Love
  •   Baby Loves Rock
  •   Downed
  •   The Flame
  •   I Want You To Want Me
  •   Dream Police


  •   Never Had A Lot To Lose
  •   Surrender
  •   Another World
  •   Goodnight
Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.