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By Chuck Cox

Special Contributor

Rick Neilsen

The always entertaining Rick Nielsen shows off his five-neck guitar on Friday night at Verizon. (Photo: Chuck Cox)

There wasn’t a very big crowd on hand to see rock icons Cheap Trick play on Friday night at Verizon Theatre.

“Ain’t that a shame?”

Despite the small size of the crowd, the rock quartet from Rockford, Ill., was intent on having a party for the loyal fans who did show up. One of those fans was a Japanese woman who was attending her 189th Cheap Trick show.

There’s a reason the band has that kind of support. Cheap Trick has been delivering the goods live for four decades. And its Grand Prairie stop on the “Greatest Hits” tour was no exception.

Robin Zander remains one of the most solid frontmen in rock and roll. He looks the part, sounds great, and knows every rock start move and pose in the book. Same for guitarist Rick Nielsen, who throws out literally hundreds of guitar picks at every show. I came away with three, if that tells you anything.

The rhythm section of bassist Tom Petersson and touring drummer Daxx Nielsen, Rick’s son, provide a perfect backbone for the band. And while I miss seeing drummer Bun E. Carlos, who is still in the band but no longer tours, seeing Rick play with Daxx was also really cool.

“Well, what about the tunes?”

Yeah, the tunes were great, too. Of course, there were the standards — “I Want You to Want Me,” “Surrender,” “She’s Tight,” “The Flame,” and “Dream Police.” But the band also dug deep into the catalogue for some cool ones, such as “Tax Man, Mr. Thief,” “Oh, Candy,” and “Heaven Tonight.”

The one great thing about a show like Friday’s was the fans that were there were way into the show. And with no opening act, the band played for nearly two hours. It was a great time — especially considering it was kind of a last-minute show for me. It was my third time to see Cheap Trick, but it was the first time I had seen it as a headliner.

Photo album.

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