Front and Center TV Series Offers Rock Lineup

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(L-R) Cheap Trick's Daxx Nielsen, Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson at the Front and Center taping, April 10 2016. (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

(L-R) Cheap Trick’s Daxx Nielsen, Rick Nielsen, Robin Zander and Tom Petersson at the Front and Center taping, April 10 2016. (Photo: Greg Brodsky)

In just four years (and seven seasons), the TV concert series Front and Center is offering music fans a terrific combination of established artists and handpicked newcomers. The series is produced in association with PBS station WLIW21 for WNET and airs on public television as a one-hour show. The performances are taped at various studios and concert venues in the New York City area.

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The new season, premiering January 2017, includes Southside Johnny, Steve Vai and Cheap Trick. Previous seasons have featured Santana, Steven Tyler, Joe Jackson, Paul Rodgers, Ginger Baker, the Stephen Stills band The Rides, Cyndi Lauper and Buddy Guy.

Just two days after their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in April 2016, Cheap Trick taped a triumphant appearance for Front and Center‘s season seven at the intimate Melrose Ballroom in the NYC borough of Queens. The crowd of roughly 600 were treated to a 20-song set that included most of the band’s favorites including their popular covers of “Ain’t That a Shame” and “The ‘In’ Crowd,” their own hits such as “Hello There” from 1977’s In Color (guitarist Rick Nielsen: “Are you ready to rock?” Answer: “Hell, yes!”), “The Flame,” “I Want You to Want Me,” “Dream Police” and “Surrender” plus songs from their terrific new album, Bang Zoom Crazy… Hello.

Related: Review of Cheap Trick’s album: “crunchy, zesty, catchy and a bit cheeky rock music.”

After four decades fronting Trick, lead vocalist Robin Zander, now 64, sounds as good as ever. Small wonder, then, that Nielsen introduced him – as he always does – as “his favorite lead singer in the whole wide world.” Zander has sung “Surrender” thousands of times but he still playfully spit out the lyrics: When I woke up, Mom and Dad were rolling on the couch. Rolling numbers, rock and rolling, got my Kiss records ouuuut… And later effortlessly hit the signature “Awaaaay.”

Cheap Trick are beloved for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop rock’n’roll. They never dominated the charts like many of their peers and only two of their albums ever reached the Top 10. (Their most successful release is a live recording, 1979’s Cheap Trick at Budokan.) But the durability of the band’s classic tunes continue to receive regular play on classic rock radio.

The band’s nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016 was their first, despite being eligible since 2002.

Related: Cheap Trick Praised by Kid Rock at HoF Induction

They begin a U.S. tour with Foreigner on July 14. (Click here for tickets.)

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  1. Jimbé
    #1 Jimbé 3 December, 2017, 02:12

    Who was that playing tonight on Front and Center ? … the 2nd of Dec. He, They brought the house down. They were amazing ! Old soul players in young temples

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