House Of Blues, Orlando • April 10th 1999
When I heard about the pairing of these two bands, I nearly keeled over. Nutrajet’s self-proclaimed “guitar hero” Greg Reinel and drum specialist Miss Pamela Suzanne Dozier have proclaimed themselves disciples of Cheap Trick in print; tonight, they’d weave a musical red carpet for their influences. Wearing a red suit with a black shirt, blonde hair spiked on top of his skeletal frame, Reinel came at the audience with his teeth bared, chomping on chewing gum and churning out a fat load of shiny, distorted turbulence on the opener, “Celebrity Fist.” Guys drooled over Dozier, looking rather petite and adorable in a black leather cat suit, despite pounding on her kit like Mighty Joe Young. Milking feedback from his amp, Reinel led right into “Alternative Nation” and proceeded to strut around the stage, leaping into the air and windmilling his guitar. “Why isn’t anybody dancing?” he asked the hall during a brief and rare stop in the action. If there were any Nutra-doubters in the crowd, this was taken care of with a ballsy cover of “Lookout” from Cheap Trick’s At Budokan album. Grinning madly, Reinel sliced into this one with the look of a kid getting away with something. Big-ass kudos to the pair for pulling off a tight, savage show.
Cheap Trick took the stage later on, and plowed right into “I Want You To Want Me,” sending the crowd into a frenzy. Robin Zander, seemingly untouched by age, warmed up his pipes with “Heaven Tonight,” “Come On, Come On,” and the thrilling “Anytime,” and Tom Petersson, making the 12-string bass look ridiculously easy, took confident lead vocals on the sexy rave-up “I Know What I Want.” The ever-funny Rick Nielsen (sporting a long goatee with a price tag attached) cranked out masterful bits of chaotic sizzle when he wasn’t mugging for the audience, changing guitars on each song (including the famous “Uncle Dick” axe) and flinging out handfuls of picks in imaginative ways. “Our new album is called Music For Hangovers ,” he said of their new live release. “I hope you all wake up with one.” Drummer Bun E. Carlos displayed his solid, imaginative rhythms aptly; he’s the key to the band’s tightness.
Hearing Zander wail on “Dream Police” and “If You Want My Love” brought images of the ’80s flooding back like a neon haze. He also rendered a stunning acoustic version of “Voices” that had lighters materializing. After closing with “Surrender” (Nielsen brought out his Hamer five-neck guitar and the crowd busted a nut) the band encored with “Auf Wiedersehen,” and capped off a highly entertaining set. Indeed, “heaven tonight” for fans of tight, ’80s style rock!