SunFest Saturday: Cheap Trick Charmed In Headlining Set On Tire Kingdom Stage

cheaptrick1Saturday’s bill of classic rock and roll on the festival’s Tire Kingdom Stage ended with a headlining performance by Cheap Trick, and there was no better choice to cap off the evening. The nearly 40-year-running group’s brand of hard-driving power pop is simply timeless. Anthemic choruses, stadium-size hooks, and no-frills rock and roll never die.

It only helps, of course, that the band members still play and sound as gifted and young as they did in the ’70s. Singer Robin Zander — a resident of the Tampa Bay area, actually — boasts pristine pipes, and commands the stage like the seasoned pro he is. There was scarcely a break or pause throughout the group’s hour-and-a-half set, which drew a happy, multigenerational crowd who enjoyed nearly ever classic song from the band’s career. Starting with “Hello There” and “ELO Kiddies,” the nearly two-dozen following songs included everything from “On Top Of the World” and “If You Want My Love” to covers of Big Star’s “In The Street” and Elvis Presley’s “Don’t Be Cruel.”

And, yes, Cheap Trick saved the big guns — “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police” — for late in the game, teasing even further by leaving the stage soon after. Yes, there was an encore, and yes, of course, it included “Surrender,” in a fun cat-and-mouse game between band and audience that ended with everyone winning.