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Labor Day weekend in the United States has long since been considered the traditional end of summer.  The Annual L.A. Fleet Week is quickly becoming a tradition in its own right.   For each of the past 4 years, this multi-day celebration of our nation’s Sea Services include active duty ship tours, military displays, equipment demonstrations, flyovers, and many other events and attractions. L.A. Fleet Week continues to impress as they once again land top notch talent for their nightly musical concerts.  

The big crowds over the years have been treated to a wide variety music from local icons The Wingtips and Identity Theft: The Band to world renowned artists such as Los Lobos, Vince Neil(Motley Crue), The Record Company, Quiet Riot, and last year The Beach Boys.  This year, Fleet Week organizers hit another home run, landing Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick.  Having been to hundreds of rock concerts over the years myself, I was anticipating this one more than usual as I sheepishly admit I’ve never seen them live.  I was excited to see this iconic band and finally cross them of my rock bucket list! 

At the stroke of 8 o’clock, positioned directly in front of the USS Iowa, the band slammed the crowd with their quintessential show opener “Hello There” and followed with their 2017 rocker “You Got It Going On”.  Robin Zander (lead vocals, rhythm guitars), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (Bass), Dax Nielsen (drums), and Robin Taylor Zander (rhythm guitar, backing vocal) then proceeded to churn through such classics as “California Man”, “Ain’t That a Shame”, “She’s Tight” and “If You Want My Love”.  Mixing in 1989’s rocker “Never had a Lot to Lose” and the chart-topping power ballad “The Flame”, it became clear to me how this band has managed to stay at the top their game all these years; quality music presented in a no-nonsense kick-ass way.  Just how rock and roll should be.

Despite the massive success of their song “The Flame”, Cheap Trick is arguably recognized more by their “Big 3”, or triumvirate of signature songs.  It was that time of the night where you just knew what was coming, and they did not disappoint.  Once “I Want You to Want Me”, “Surrender”, and “Dream Police” were delivered and the closing “Goodnight Now”, (a variation of the show’s opener “Hello There”), you can just feel in your belly you’ve seen something special. 

I can promise you this: If you get a chance to see Cheap Trick, do so!  You’ll be treated to a rip-roaring night of rock delivered by a bona-fide American Classic.  Their performance in front of thousands at the USS IOWA highlighted just how special this band is and all signs indicate they will not be slowing down any time soon.  


John McAteer

Photojournalist - Orange County

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