Surrendering to Ribfest
The Stuck in the 80s crew caught Cheap Trick live at "Ribfest 2006" in St. Petersburg, Fla., last night. I'm not sure what was more surprising: 10,000-plus people all showing up to see Cheap Trick, or the fact that Cathy, Sean and I managed to meet up at the show with about 5 minutes of planning.
A lot of the once-mighty 80s acts have made their way through Ribfest over the years: REO Speedwagon, Eddie Money, Loverboy and, coming up later this weekend, Toto. I've never really wanted to see any of the shows before -- probably out of some weird type of respect for them. I felt sad that my favorite bands were reduced to playing the food festival circuit. But I hadn't seen Cheap Trick live since 1988, and I was getting desperate. Plus, the weather down here in Florida right now is pretty close to perfect.
Singer Robin Zander (now a local resident), guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson and drummer Bun E. Carlos haven't lost a thing over time. Zander's voice felt as strong today as 20 years ago. Nielsen switched out guitars nearly every song, pulling out the crowd-favorite five-neck guitar for "Surrender."
The band is promoting their new CD "Rockford," but the crowd didn't mind the new tunes mixed in with the classics. "Perfect Stranger," their first single off Rockford, even had the crowd singing along right from the first verse. The band saved "Dream Police" for an encore, and ripped through it with the energy of musicians half their age.
All in all, a great show. I won't be so snobby about Ribfest again.