Cheap Trick had an unlikely road to their status as rock gods. Their early albums tanked here at home, but Cheap Trick was the ultimate "big in Japan" band. The first big hit here was their live album recorded in front of adoring Japanese fans at Budokan.
Now the band is acknowledged as one of the most important in rock 'n' roll history, credited as a progenitor of power pop and being cited as influences by metal, punk, alternative and grunge bands.
Besides all that, they have some great songs -- "I Want You to Want Me," "Dream Police," "The Flame," "Southern Girls," and on and on -- they're loads of fun to watch, and their classic lineup (singer Robin Zander guitarist Rick Nielsen, bassist Tom Petersson) is almost entirely intact after all these years. Founding drummer Bun E. Carlos has not toured with the band for a few years, but he was still an official member until a few months back. Now there are dueling lawsuits between Carlos and the other Cheap Tricksters.
The current Cheap Trick lineup will be in Sarasota today at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Cheap Trick doesn't sell tons of albums or have hit singles anymore, but they tour continuously and their live shows still attract healthy and enthusiastic crowds.
Details: 8 p.m. Dec. 5, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Tickets: $55-$85. Information: 941-953-3368, vanwezel.org.
-- Marty Clear