Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today was a Day for Cheap Trick's "Heaven Tonight" (1978)

I picked Heaven Tonight up on NM vinyl recently at an area thrift store.  This is the third album by the Rockford, IL band that rose to some arena-rock prominence in the late 70's and into the 80's.

In early November of 1998 in Minneapolis, after walking out of the Target Center following a Bob Dylan concert (which we attended with front row tickets!), I was given a bunch of comp tickets by some First Avenue (the downtown Minneapolis nightclub that helped to launch the careers of Prince, the Replacements, Husker Du, etc.) volunteers. I am not sure if it is still common, but during the mid-90's to the early-00's, 1st Ave. would circulate a fair number of complimentary concert tickets to boost crowds at their wintertime shows. On this particular night after the Dylan show across the street from 1st Ave., we secured a couple of handfuls of comp tickets, including a pair for a Cheap Trick show that was coming up later in that week, in early November of 1998.

At the time, Cheap Trick was on a nationwide tour of select cities where they were playing a 3-night stand of their first three complete albums from the 1970s in each town. They played a complete album, track by track, on each of the nights (album 1 on night 1; album 2 on night 2, etc.). A good friend and I went to one of the 3 shows on their Minneapolis stop. We saw night #2 and 1977's In Color album. The opening act was local art punks (and Devo/Talking Heads carry-the-torchers) Flipp.

The show itself was pretty good. I had never been a big fan of Cheap Trick and, to be honest, my core knowledge about them revolved around memories of slightly skanky older girls in my high school wearing "Cheap Trick 86", etc. shirts while they smoked cigs around the corner from the school gym. But anyway, the show was pretty darn fun. We got to see them play In Color straight through, and then they played another half-hour of other songs. The real magic of the night happened in the encores, however. They introduced their friends who had played across the street earlier (at the much larger Target Center) and asked us to welcome them to the stage. Out bounded Steven Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith! Cheap Trick and Aerosmith proceded to kick out the "Train Kept a Rollin'" jams for a while. It was maybe the most amazing rock moment of my concert life. And this is coming from a guy who isn't really much of a fan of either band and who has seen several hundred concerts over the last 2 decades. It was mofo-ing awesome!

For what it is, Heaven Tonight is a very fun listen. It is CT's best album and the wall of heavy, crunchy sound is set within a nice production job that was done in the studio. Listen to some late 70s arena rock from Rockford's finest, mofo:

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