Rod Stewart with Cheap Trick
The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
Wantagh, NY August 23, 2022
By Mike Percaiccante
Rod Stewart was born and raised in London and is of Scottish and English ancestry. Known for his distinctive and raspy singing voice, Stewart has sold over 250 million records across the globe. He has delivered 10 number-one albums and 31 Top-10 singles in the UK--six of which reached number one. In the U.S., Stewart has racked-up 16 Top-10 singles, with four reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
During the course of his career, Stewart has served as lead singer in the Jeff Beck Group and the Faces. Stewart's early solo albums are a musical gumbo of rock, folk music, soul music, pop and R&B. His third album, 1971's Every Picture Tells a Story (Mercury Records) was a smash. Propelled by the ballad, “Maggie May,” it reached the top of the charts in the U.S., UK, Canada and Australia. 1972’s Mercury Records follow-up album, Never a Dull Moment, was number one in the UK and Australia and reached the top three in the U.S. and Canada.
In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Stewart flirted with disco and new wave. This is most evident on the singles “Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?,” “Passion,” “Tonight I'm Yours (Don't Hurt Me)” and “Young Turks.”
More recently, Stewart’s music has turned to a soft rock/middle-of-the-road genre. He achieved a huge worldwide hit with the song “Rhythm of My Heart” from 1991's Vagabond Heart (Warner Brothers Records). He has collaborated with Bryan Adams and Sting (on the ballad “All for Love”) and has released a series Great American Songbook albums on which he delivers his interpretation classic tunes.
In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked Stewart as the 17th most successful artist on the "Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Artists." Stewart has received Grammy Awards and Brit Awards. As a solo artist, Stewart was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2012, a member of the Faces, he was also been inducted (a second time) into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
Cheap Trick was formed in Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1973 by guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson, lead vocalist Robin Zander and drummer Bun E. Carlos. The band’s current lineup of the band consists of frontman Robin Zander, Nielsen and Petersson with Nielsen’s son Dak manning the skins.
Cheap Trick released its self-titled debut album in 1977 on Epic Records. The group’s second album, In Color (Epic Records, 1977) found success in Japan, opening the door to the mainstream popularity brought by its breakthrough album Cheap Trick at Budokan (Epic Records, 1978). Cheap Trick reached the Top 10 in the US charts in 1979 with the Budokan live version of “I Want You to Want Me” and topped the charts in 1988 with “The Flame.”
Since its debut, Cheap Trick has been blending Beatlesque pop with elements of arena/classic rock, hard rock, punk, modern rock and even a touch of blues. Its sound is instantly recognizable, its lyrics are definitely sly and tongue-in-cheek. Overall, the band’s musical onslaught of crunchy pop chords and powerful yet melodic vocals is sure to make even casual fans smile.
On a sleepy Tuesday evening in late August, Rod Stewart along with Cheap Trick headlined The Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY. The double bill made in heaven’s first performance began with the opening salvo that has become Cheap Trick’s calling card, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, please welcome to the stage, the best fucking rock ‘n’ roll band in the galaxy—Cheap Trick!” The group abbreviated 13-song set opened with “Just Got Back’ and featured all the hits that one would expect: “Dream Police,” “The Flame” and the set ending trio of mega-hits “I Want You to Want Me,” “If You Want My Love,” and “Surrender” followed by the traditional “Goodnight” set closer. In addition, “Downed” (on which the lead vocals were handled by Robin Zander’s son Robin Taylor Zander), “I Know What I Want,” “Stiff Competition” and the Fats Domino cover “Ain’t That A Shame” all made their appearances throughout the slick, high-energy rockin’ set.
Cheap Trick’s performance, as always, was highlighted by the ferocity and intensity of the music. For just shy of 50 years Zander’s vocals and by Rick Nielsen’s energy, wry and sometimes twisted sense of humor and the absurd (on the neck of one of his guitars, between and over the frets, the words “Gonna Raise Hell” was spelled out in black letters) have been staples of the band’s live performances. Nielsen also has a propensity to flick and toss guitar picks to fans with pinpoint accuracy. Fans in the orchestra often leave the band’s shows with a colorful collection of “Cheap Trick” embossed guitar pics. The entire seventeen song performance was over in a flash—they came, they played, they conquered—and they were gone.
It’s very hard to follow a Rock N Roll Hall of Fame act as tight, forceful, fun and entertaining as Cheap Trick. Only top-flight musicians can do so with any measure of success. Rod Stewart is one such musician. His performance on this evening was masterful.
Opening his set with a cover of Robert Palmer’s, “Addicted To Love” (complete with female backing musicians/singers dressed like the girls in Palmer’s video), Stewart set the stage for a great night of fantastic tunes. Highlights of the performance (which was punctuated by a number of costume changes and the fantastic musicianship of his backing band included “You Wear It Well,” the Faces tunes “Ohh La La,” and “Stay With Me;” “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?;” “Forever Young;” an acoustic version of “People Get Ready;” “Hot Legs;” “Some Guys Have All The Luck” and “Young Turks”. Other highlights included “Have I Told You Lately,” “The First Cut Is The Deepest” and a show stopping version of “Maggie May” featuring fantastic lead mandolin playing provided by J’Anna Jacoby.
Stewart’s incredible band was top-notch. In addition to his basic band, the musicians on stage included the amazing female backup singers who also contributed keyboards, guitar, mandolin, violin and bass to the evening’s performance. It was the backup singers who while Stewart was changing outfits took change, performing Blondie’s “Call Me” and Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”.
In addition to the “Addicted To Love” opener, Stewart peppered other choice covers throughout the performance: Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”, Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston’s “It Takes Two,” Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind” and Sam Cooke’s “Having a Party” were all fantastic additions.
What an amazing show. Both acts brought their A-games and the audience spent the vast majority of the evening on its feet singing along and dancing. It was definitely a night to remember. The two legendary acts teamed to provide the sold-out audience at the intimate venue by the bay with an evening that would not soon be forgotten.