• Tue. May 28th, 2024

A Cheaper Trick at Coverall Lounge!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Apr 17, 2024

A Cheaper Trick played the Coverall Lounge in Arizona Charlie’s Decatur on Saturday April 13, 2024.

The music of Cheap Trick is truly timeless. Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander have been unleashing their brand of power pop on the world for half a century now, and they’re still going strong. Anthems like “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” and “Surrender” all remain favorites of fans around the globe.

And when a band is as big as Cheap Trick, tribute bands are inevitable.

I’ve seen Cheap Trick live twice, but until the other night at Arizona Charlie’s, I’d never actually seen a Cheap Trick tribute band! All the more reason I was eager to check out A Cheaper Trick. The group consists of the following members:

-Jaime St. James as Robin Zander on vocals.
Jaime is best known to the music world as the lead vocalist of classic 80s hard rock band Black N Blue, but he also served as the singer of Warrant for a brief period in the mid-2000s.

-Tommy Rojo as Tom Petersson on bass.
Tommy has played alongside Blues Image’s Mike Pinera, and Jack Russell of Great White, but is also a veteran of tributes to artists like Tom Petty and Whitesnake.

Don E. Sachs as Rick Nielsen on lead guitar.
Don has played in the original band Shake City, but has also played in tributes to artists like The Cars and INXS.

Kevin Valentine on drums.
Kevin is no stranger to the music world, having played with artists like KISS, Cinderella, and classic Foreigner singer Lou Gramm.

The venue for this evening’s show was the Coverall Lounge, formerly known as Naughty Ladies Saloon, at Arizona Charlie’s on Decatur. I remember seeing a show here about a year and a half ago when the area was under its original name and having an absolute miserable experience, as there was no divider wall between the performance room and the casino, not to mention poor ventilation, meaning lots of unwanted slot machine noise and the odor of cigarette smoke throughout the night. Since the name change, however, an open wall has been added to the back of the venue, and ventilation has been improved considerably. The smoke problem hasn’t been alleviated completely (apparently, it’s still permitted inside the venue), but it always pleases me to see venues making renovations that improve the experience for patrons. I’d be willing to return here for future shows now.

The band, of course, had to face some stiff competition (bad joke there most definitely intentional) with plenty of other acts playing Las Vegas on this evening, including Tesla and Scorpions, both of whom were doing residency dates. I’d actually been offered tickets to Tesla on this night, but respectfully turned them down because I was curious to see thee guys paying tribute to Cheap Trick.

Cheap Trick has a HUGE discography. And the quartet of musicians assembled for the evening certainly stands strong as an ensemble with no shortage of talent. One of the first things I noticed when the evening started was the look of the band members, who clearly wanted to pay homage to these musical heroes of theirs. In particular, Don E. Sachs decked out in Rick Nielsen’s signature clothes and Jaime St. James in a white outfit reminiscent of Robin Zander’s classic DREAM POLICE-era look were immediate attention getters. Don even had a replica of Rick’s infamous “Uncle Dick” guitar, though due to technical difficulties it didn’t get used much during the night. Nice to see it make an appearance though! Probably the only thing missing from the group’s stage show was Rick Nielsen’s infamous five-necked guitar, though I don’t think this audience seemed to mind too much.

I’m happy to say the sound quality and the performance from the band members were both top notch. Coverall Lounge has a surprisingly good sound system, and the group has a great chemistry. The band members did express some issues with the sound quality/mixing a few times in the gig, though as a member of the audience rocking out, I couldn’t discern anything that sounded too wrong or off. Tommy even took the vocals for one song! These guys love Cheap Trick and it shows in their performance. Sound-wise I don’t think you’ll ever quite mistake them for the real band (this is true of nearly any tribute band), but they play the material with passion while looking the part. And in the end, that’s what matters. It’s a talented ensemble breathing new life into some of the greatest power pop ever made. Having seen the real band twice, I can truly say that these guys hold their own.

If you’re paying tribute to a band that’s been rocking the world for nearly 50 years, selecting a setlist isn’t easy. Cheap Trick has some undeniable hits that must be performed at every concert, but it’s perhaps their extensive catalogue of deep cuts that’s most impressive. Staying true to the band they were paying homage to, this set of course started with intro track “Hello There,” and closed with the other bookend piece, “Goodnight.” Throughout the set, we got a wide array of hits and deep cuts alike, with songs ranging from the band’s 1977 Jack Douglas-produced debut to their 1988 comeback effort, LAP OF LUXURY. This meant the hit tunes you’ve come to expect from Cheap Trick, including “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” “Dream Police,” “Voices,” the cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” from the AT BUDOKAN concert album, and “The Flame,” to name a few. In all, the band played 23 songs with a set that clocked in at right about 100 minutes.

But what of the deep cuts that so many die-hard Cheap Trick fans love the band for?

Fear not, we got plenty of those!

This was the one part of the performance that truly impressed me. Gems like “Big Eyes,” “Downed,” the cover of The Move’s “California Man,” “Auf Wiedersehen,” and “Oh Candy” were among the gems that the band pulled out during this performance. We even got “That 70s Song” from THAT 70s SHOW as part of the set! I attended the show with several people much older than myself who grew up on the music of Cheap Trick, and they too were clearly impressed by the wide array of hits and deep cuts alike, not to mention the effort the group put into their performance. Admittedly, there are some other cuts I would liked to have heard, including “ELO Kiddies,” “Taxman Mr. Thief,” “On Top of the World,” “Gonna Raise Hell,” “Need Your Love,” “Stop This Game,” “If You Want My Love,” “Tonight It’s You,” any of the band’s many Beatles covers, and “Mighty Wings” from the TOP GUN soundtrack, and any of the post-1988 output from the band (they’re still recording music that’s quite good!), but I’m not complaining. The group rocked from start to finish and this fan was thoroughly impressed.

A Cheaper Trick does justice to the legacy of Rockford, Illinois’ favorite sons, and that’s not an easy task to pull off. As a Cheap Trick fan, seeing these guys rock Vegas was an absolute delight, and if they ever return to Sin City, I’ll be first in line for the gig. If they hit up your town and you’re a Cheap Trick fan, don’t pass them by.

All photos by the author.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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