Boston & Cheap Trick: Heaven On Earth Tour

Photos and Text by Kevin Estrada  (www.kevinestrada.com)

Rock legends Boston and special guests Cheap Trick made one thing very obvious - both bands still know how to put on a show.

Bringing their "A" game on Tuesday, July 29th to the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles, the Boston mother ship landed just as skies darkened for the “Heaven On Earth Tour.”

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Boston, is led by Tom Scholz: guitarist, singer, inventor (remember the RockMan??), producer, principal songwriter and graduate of MIT - The Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Unlike many bands of their era, Boston hasn't toured or released albums consistently (six studio albums since 1976, compared with Cheap Trick's big catalog of 16) and this was their first trip back to the West Coast in quite some time, as vocalist Tom DeCarlo pointed out, “We don’t get out here very often, so this is extra special.”

Special guests, Cheap Trick, roared on stage with "Hello There", first appearing on their 1977 album "In Color" but eventually immortalized as the first song from their "at Budokan" live album; six of the 12 songs in their set were taken from that must-have live record.

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Three classic covers followed: "Ain't That a Shame" (a Fats Domino song that they never officially recorded); "California Man" (by The Move); and "Don't Be Cruel" (by Elvis Presley).  Guitarist Rick Neilsen and vocalist Robin Zander got a laugh from the audience early on when they confessed, “It’s been 37 years since we first played here with KISS…and they are STILL playing the same set.”

Cheap Trick is currently touring with a near classic line-up consisting of lead guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and vocalist Robin Zander, but with a new touring drummer, Daxx Nielsen (Rick's son), whose been with them since 2010.

The rest of Cheap Trick's set was a collection of greatest hits from their "Dream Police" album ("Need Your Love", "I Know What I Want" and of course "Dream Police") and other guaranteed crowd pleasers like "Surrender" and “I Want You To Want Me.”

Brightly colored guitar picks lined Nielson’s mic stands, and near the end of the show he grabbed handfuls to toss into the audience.  Rick appears to have as many guitars as he does guitar picks - changing guitars for just about every song. But the most impressive part of Cheap Trick had to be Robin Zander's lead vocals - still strong after all these years, and dressed in a white, leather outfit - almost as flashy as Rick's guitars.

After a quick intro by The Sound’s own Uncle Joe Benson, three giant spaceship screens above the stage announced Boston, who blasted off with "Rock & Roll Band".

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Boston's show was an affair of showmanship, musical interludes and sing-able tracks spanning their entire career.  Their 22 song set featured seven of the eight songs from the original 1976 self-titled album which is considered to be one of the best debuts ever, and also one of the most commercially successful. The rest of the set was filled with three songs from the excellent follow-up "Don't Look Back", six songs from "Third Stage", two songs from "Walk On" and two back-to-back songs from their latest album "Life, Love & Hope.”

The ever-smiling 67-year old Scholz (wearing a blue knee brace) who, by the way looks 20 years younger, questioned the Southern California crowd, “Do you think bands like us should still put out records?” only to receive an ear splitting positive response.  It’s obvious – rock fans will be waiting for Boston to lift off on their next mission.

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**The words expressed in the Music Connection Photo Blog does not reflect the opinions of Music Connection.**

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