Rod Stewart and Cheap Trick Come to Mohegan Sun – August 13, 2022
The iconic Sir Rod Stewart is touring across North America, bringing a night full of hits that span his nearly 60-year career. Joining him on this tour, all the way from Rockford, Illinois, is the always entertaining Cheap Trick.
The building lights go dark, and sirens start going off. They grow in volume as red and blue lights flash across the stage. Daxx Nielsen makes his way to the drum kit, the rest of the band takes the stage, and they kick into their 1979 classic, “Dream Police.”
While the band sounds great, it’s immediately obvious something is missing. Guitarist Rick Nielsen is absent from the stage, a fact which was never addressed by the band. Rick has been out for the last few weeks of shows after spraining his ankle during a performance. Filling in for him tonight is Robin Taylor Zander, the son of frontman Robin Zander. Over the last year, bassist Tom Petersson sat out many tour dates while recovering from open-heart surgery, including their stop at Boston Calling in May. Robin Jr. filled in on the 12 string bass for those shows, but fortunately Tom is back in shape, and back on the road with the band, leaving Robin Jr. available to fill in for Rick. Perhaps the next time they come around, Robin Sr. will have to sit out a show, and Robin Jr. will fill in as frontman?
Robin Jr. did a great job playing and singing Rick’s parts, but there’s definitely something missing when Rick’s not there. I suppose to prevent it feeling like a tribute act, Robin didn’t do any of the signature things Rick does, like throw a thousand picks into the crowd, and play a bunch of extravagant guitars. I never noticed Robin playing anything that wasn’t a Les Paul – no five-necked guitar for him.
Early on in the set, as Robin Sr. was addressing the crowd, he made a little boo-boo, as he said “It’s great to be back here at Foxwoods!” After someone corrected him, with an embarrassed smile, he said “after twenty studio albums, it gets hard to keep things straight!”
The band’s set was full of Cheap Trick classics like “I Want You to Want Me,” “The Flame,” and “Surrender.” Though the lack of Rick was felt by many in the crowd, the performances were still great, and the casual fan may not have even noticed anything was different. Hopefully Rick recovers soon, and is able to rejoin the rest of the tour.
As the sold out arena reaches capacity, a curtain donning the face of Sir Roderick David Stewart, better known as Rod, is lit up across the stage. As the lights go out and the curtain raises, five women clad in black pant suits don the stage, playing white instruments with white guitar straps. If this evokes memories of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” video, that’s no mistake, as Rod takes the stage to perform the song of his fallen friend. The girls clear the stage, and Rod’s own hits take center stage, starting off with “You Wear it Well.” The girls would reappear throughout the night as backup vocalists, dancers, drummers, violin players, and harp players… very multi-talented!
A few songs in, Rod addresses the crowd, welcoming them, but says he’s not going to do much talking tonight, so that they can play as many songs as possible. His 90-minute show had 22 songs in it, playing material from all eras of his career. With songs from his old band The Faces, like “Ooh La La” and “Stay With Me,” and his many solo hits like “Forever Young,” “Hot Legs,” and “Hot Legs,” there were songs for everybody to enjoy.
When it came time for his chart-topping hit, “Maggie May,” he sang the first verse softly, with just synths being played on the keyboard. The crowd erupted as they realized what song it was, and sang along with every word. The band came crashing in on the second chorus, only to later strip back down to just Rod and a keyboard for a later verse. While the performance was great, Rod did occasionally mix up the lines on the tail ends of the verses. The topic of singers using teleprompters has come up in the news lately, and as far as I could tell, Rod was not using one. His mixing of the lines probably wouldn’t have been obvious, except that during this song, lyrics were stylistically being displayed on the screen behind him.
Later on in the set, stage hands brought out a row of chairs. Rod said to the crowd “Now we’re going to place various bits of furniture on the stage. How about a round of applause for the furniture?!” The band members all sat down, as they played a selection of songs acoustically, including “Tonights the Night,” “You’re in my Heart,” and “Have I Told You Lately.”
Rod took to the stage tonight in a shiny silver suit, something only he could pull off. He had multiple costume changes throughout the night, including at different points, a zebra-print shirt, a royal blue suit, and a black sequin jacket. Before “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?,” a photo of him from that disco era was on the screen behind him. He asked if the crowd was laughing at the photo, and said how it was a different time, “and here’s a song from that time.”
At 77 years old, there’s nobody who moves or performs quite like Rod. One person I spoke to mentioned they saw him perform in 1991, and already at that time, people were saying he was too old to be performing. Now, 30 years on, he continues to delight audiences around the world, with the treasure trove that is catalog of songs.