Although the identity of the surprise middle act, Stacked Actors, had already leaked throughout a lean crowd of 200 at the Mountain Dew Ice Village in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday (Feb. 9), its frontman nevertheless made a point to properly introduce his band.
“We’re not really called Stacked Actors,” announced Dave Grohl. “We’re Foo Fighters.” (“Stacked Actors,” of course is the title of a Foo Fighters song on There Is Nothing Left to Lose, which is allegedly about Courtney Love).
Despite the blown surprise, the crowd erupted. The Foos promptly burst into a loose, yet lissome eight-song set – a returned favor to headliners Cheap Trick, with whom Grohl and drummer Taylor Hawkins drunkenly sang “Dream Police” in Canada last year – including “This Is a Call,” “Learn to Fly,” and “My Hero,” in which guitarist Chris Shiflett experienced technical difficulties. Grohl, clad in a Cheap Trick Olympic T-shirt, covered with a casual vamp quipped, “We’ve been a band for seven years and we still can’t get this shit right.”
All was righted in scant minutes, and the set continued with the band’s temporary namesake and a new tune, “Shame On Me,” which Grohl joked was inspired by watching the Olympic “couples figure … ice … skating … shit” earlier. The ballad, illustrated by Grohl’s desolate vocals and Shiflett’s tumbleweed guitar, was a mellow mid-point to the set, which closed with “Monkeywrench.”
Cheap Trick in SLCAbout 30 minutes later, Cheap Trick took the stage in typical comic book majesty; first drummer Bun E. Carlos, then bassist Tom Petersson decked in purple velvet coat, guitarist Rick Nielsen bounding in from stage right and singer Robin Zander, strolling onstage in his usual sublime manner.
“Just Got Back” made an appropriate opening salvo, considering the band’s last Salt Lake appearance (Jan. 7, with Aerosmith) was marred by sound problems. Nielsen, the band’s main mouthpiece, addressed the situation shortly into the set: “In case you haven’t noticed, this is Salt Lake City and we are Cheap Trick. And we fired our sound guy because he sucked. Now we have Tony and he doesn’t suck.”
He then proclaimed the set would contain “old stuff, new stuff, and stuff in-between,” and Cheap Trick proceeded to deliver exactly that, with rarities “Borderline,” “High Roller” and “I Know What I Want” (featuring a lead vocal turn from Petersson) getting reactions tantamount to those elicited by Trick classics “Voices,” “She’s Tight” and “Tonight It’s You.”
“Ain’t That a Shame,” “I Want You To Want Me,” and “Surrender” provoked the fans to utter madness, especially during the latter tune, for which Nielsen hauled out his gargantuan Hamer five-neck guitar. When the time came for the customary Kiss record – Dressed to Kill, this time – to be tossed out, 20 fans, soaked in sweat and spilled drinks, reduced sleeve and disc to shreds and splinters by the “We’re all alright!” refrain.
After “Surrender”‘s final power chord flourish, Cheat Trick ducked backstage only to emerge moments later to administer an encore of “Dream Police” and “Goodnight Now,” after which the lucky few in attendance strolled out into the chilly Salt Lake night, fully aware of having shared a rare intimate performance by two of rock’s greatest bands.