Cheap Trick Brings Their Hall of Fame Setlist To Open “The Sound”

By on July 5, 2023
Photo-Jim White

On Wednesday night, Clearwater, Florida was once again alive and well after being somewhat of a ghost town the last decade or so. With the arrival and opening of The Sound, the new outdoor entertainment and music venue in Coachman Park, the area was once again vibrant and bustling with people who came to check out the new landmark facility. It also didn’t hurt opening night the attendance numbers by having Rock N Roll Hall of Famers, Cheap Trick play opening night.

Photo-Jim White

The festivities started early with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5pm. Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst gave everyone thanks for all their hard work getting everything completed and ready to go to open the facility and for beautifying the area and the new park.

After the ceremony, we got into the facility early and checked out the amenities and looked for some shade as it was blazing outside which is normal for this time of year. Thankfully, there are covered seats and many trees that provided ample coverage and with a great variety of food trucks and beverage stands with multiple options. On opening night, The Sound had something for everyone in attendance.

Photo-Jim White

As the 7000 people got settled into their seats and onto the lawn area, Robin Taylor Zander and his band opened the show.  Out in support of his first solo cd in The Distance, Robin and his bandmates opened their six song truncated set with “What Am I To Do” and then right into “Ize on the Prize.” RTZ then addressed the crowd and stated how cool it was to be the first band playing at the new venue which got a roar from the crowd.

Photo-Jim White

As they were performing “Down & Out,” I mentioned to my wife that he sounded like a cross between his dad and John Lennon when Lennon sings in a higher register. Well low and behold, RTZ then stated that their next song would be a tribute to the Beatles by doing a cover of “Dear Prudence.”

Photo-Jim White

Robin Taylor Zander and his bandmates then brought his sister on the stage to sing backup vocals on the title track of The Distance then thanked the fans. He wouldn’t be off the stage long as he is also the third guitar player in the headliner for the night in Cheap Trick.

Photo-Jim White

Safety Harbor local Robin Zander and the boys in Cheap Trick took the stage promptly at 8 pm as the sun was finally behind the stage and opened with the apropos “Hello There.” Zander was wearing a top hat with a huge feather in it with a black vest on top of a t-shirt. The other guys in the band also dressed for the heat but veteran guitar master in Rick Nielson had his trademark black suit on but more on that later.

Photo-Jim White

Cheap Trick followed up with “Just Got Back” and then the recognizable “Big Eyes” which got some of the the crowd off their seats. They continued with “Borderline” and then “He’s a Whore” which Nielson attributed to his ex-girlfriend calling him many times in the past.

Photo-Jim White

At this point, I was surprised that Cheap Trick didn’t play one of their bigger hits to really get the crowd juiced as many seemed uninterested with their deeper tracks but after “California Man,” Cheap Trick struck audience gold in “Aint That A Shame.” The Fats Domino cover finally got everyone into the show and put smiles on their faces.

Bassist Tom Peterson looked and played fantastic throughout the night in perfect sync with drummer Dakk Nielson who is Rick’s son. Peterson played a short bass solo on his custom 12-string bass after “Stop This Game” which led into a string of Cheap Trick’s big hits after “I Know What I Want.”

Photo-Jim White

Zander’s voice was clear and pristine throughout the set with it being highlighted during ‘The Flame.” As someone who is very familiar with this song and what it takes to sing it especially at the end with the high notes, Zander proved once again that he is one of the greatest rock voices ever.

Photo-Jim White

They followed it up with “I Want You To Want Me” with RTZ and Rick Nielson trading off during the solo. Nielson looked like the elements were taking their toll on him as he came off the stage multiple times to get cool towels around his neck. You can’t fault him for doing this but damn, that suit jacket had to feel like he had a small furnace wrapped around him.

Photo-Jim White

Cheap Trick finished their set with their big hits in “Dream Police” & “Surrender” and of course “Goodnight.” It was the perfect ending to a fantastic night of music by one of the top ten greatest American rock bands in history and the opening of one of the best looking and sounding venues in all of Florida. Big congrats to both of the bands and to all the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into the new facility.

Photo-Jim White
Photo-Jim White

For Cheap Trick Tour Dates:

For Upcoming Shows and Info about The Sound:

Photo-Jim White


Hello There

Just Got Back

Big Eyes


He’s a Whore

California Man

Ain’t That A Shame

Light Up the Fire

Need Your Love

Stop This Game


I Know What I Want

The Flame

I Want You to Want Me

Dream Police



Categories: Entertainment, Featured, Film, Music
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.