Cast: Cheap Trick
Extras: Bonus Commentary, Behind-the-Scenes Documentary, Photo Gallery, and more
Long known for their unequaled work ethic and devotion to deliver 200% to their fans with every live performance given (and they do!), Cheap Trick have been hammering out their inimitable brand of power pop anthems, crunching guitar riffs, and incredibly introspective ballads for twenty-five years now. Thanks now to Cheap Trick Unlimited and Image Entertainment, this new "Cheap Trick: Silver" DVD captures the energy, passion, and non-stop action of a live Trick show, minus the delightful pelting of well-worn guitar picks.
No doubt, you know most of these tunes by heart, many made world famous thanks to 1978’s landmark ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’ LP (which broke all records as the top-selling import LP of its day, thus demanding a domestic release). With ‘Ain’t That a Shame,’ ‘Surrender,’ and ‘I Want You to Want Me,’ the band belts out these long-standing classics as if it were still ’78. And though the level of high power, high quality performance is what fans have come to expect, this show offers some incredibly intimate numbers in which the band’s own children take the stage alongside their elders to deliver some of the best renditions you’re likely to ever witness. (Robin Zander’s stunning duet with his daughter Holland performing ‘Time Will Let You Know’ simply has to be seen to be believed.)
With all this abounding musical delight, could there be a catch? Well, yes, kind of. Impressed with the nice animated menus on this DVD, my jaw dropped a bit when I saw the sometimes uneven video quality. From occasional graininess to moments of overexposure, I was stunned to see this DVD presentation lacking the sort of polish we’ve come to expect from the medium. Seeking enlightenment, I took the liberty to contact the DVD’s author, Sean Sutton of Chicago Recording Company, to find out what gives. Politely, Sutton explained that, though they did an admirable job, the camera crew was not professionally equipped to deliver the sort of pristine image quality we’d hope for. And while the result is certainly very watchable and a testament to Sutton’s skill in making the best of the source material provided, don’t expect a crystal clear picture that you’d find in an slick packaged music video. But, don’t let it be overlooked that the camera crew was undeniably successful in capturing the event from every practical angle, for which Sutton is most complimentary.
And even if you’ll quibble over the image quality, forget about it because the audio will literally kick you in the a**. Engineered by veteran producer Harry Witz (who’s engineered past performances of Heart, REO Speedwagon, Triumph, and Kiss), the 24-bit audio was captured via 64 strategically-placed microphones and presented in what Witz calls a "true <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 mix>" that seems to place you right in the middle of the crowd. Rather than a phony 5.1 track that would merely separate a stereo mix and artificially insert crowd noises in the rear channels, this mix was digitally mastered by Witz in his state-of-the-art home theater-like studio where he could properly orchestrate the array of audio information in what is the most realistic sound I’ve ever heard from a concert disc – this, again, replicating the actual feel of a Trick concert. Though you’ll also find a 2.0 Stereo mix on the disc, don’t bother as it can’t even hold a candle to the 5.1 track. This one rocks!
In all, "Cheap Trick: Silver" is an intimate excursion into the past, present, and unyeilding future of this unique band. Fueled by their commitment to their craft and audience, Cheap Trick notes they’re eager to perform an even more grand 50th anniversary event. And, seeing how these apparently ageless rockers have sailed through these first 25 years, I have little doubt they’ll make good on the promise. While you’re waiting, though, grab this disc and go completely wild.