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Throwback Thursday: Cheap Trick, Billy Joel, Sondre Lerche

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Throwback Thursday: Cheap Trick, Billy Joel, Sondre Lerche

Every Thursday, we dig through the Paste Cloud archives to revisit some of our favorite old concert videos and audio. This week, we’ve got Cheap Trick, Sondre Lerche and the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel.

Cheap Trick: Live at Capitol Theatre, 1980

Attending a concert of a classic rock band during its peak was a truly wonderful experience. That experience and feeling is what makes this Cheap Trick archival video from their show at the now defunct Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey so special. The band, which is one of the 2016 inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was in its prime in 1980, having just released its signature album Dream Police. This archival footage of Cheap Trick captures the band during one of their legendary performances. Featuring high-octane versions of songs such as “Gonna Raise Hell,” “Surrender” and “Dream Police,” this is one concert video that should appeal to fans of classic rock, punk, power pop and alt-rock alike. With Rick Nielsen’s unique sense of humor that made him the comic of the group, coupled with Robin Zander’s powerhouse vocals and frontman bravado, this recording shows why the band was welcomed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year.

The band definitely gives its best on some of the longer numbers. Highlights that show Cheap Trick’s musical abilities include the 10-minute long “Gonna Raise Hell Tonight” as well as the 12-minute “I Need Your Love.” To see a band stretch out their songs like Cheap Trick does here is remarkable and truly shows that the the passion for their music. Although the band is by all means not a “jam band,” the way they carried the energy through these longer numbers is very respectable.

The vitality that the rhythm section conveys throughout their parts shows that both Nielsen and Zander aren’t the only great musicians in this act. Bun E. Carlos and Tom Peterson also do tremendous work during this performance. Their dynamo energy is what keeps Nielsen and Zander on track and helps keep the performance alight.

The audacity with which Cheap Trick tackles their material is ravenous, but at the same time shows their musical dexterity. Although the band is known for their louder, crazier songs such as “Surrender” and “Dream Police,” the band also shines on softer, more down-tempo tracks such as “Voices” during which Robin Zander whips out an acoustic guitar that he uses for the majority of the track. Showing their versatility, Cheap Trick then goes straight in for the kill in the up-tempo rocker “Ain’t That a Shame.” These 10 minutes of video are a particular part of why audiences back in the 1980s loved Cheap Trick.

Although Cheap Trick’s peak of popularity has passed, the group continues to tour today with their key lineup members in tow. For the past 30 years, this enlightening rock act has held the torch of rock and roll and held it brightly, and continues to do so to this day. Their legacy will remain intact for all future rockers to write new huge power-pop anthems, and hopefully do so with the lust that Cheap Trick so finely exemplifies in this footage.—Raz Robinson

Billy Joel: Live at Giants Stadium, 1994

Billy Joel and Elton John—it’s a natural pairing when you think about it. Not just in the two dudes who play piano and sing sense, but in the sense that as songwriters and figures in musical culture they certainly tower over most in terms of influence. Collectively, it’s hard to doubt the iconic nature of a duo that between the two of them has written “Piano Man,” “Benny and The Jets,” “Only the Good Die Young” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” just to name a small handful of mega hits that even the most casual music listener could probably recognize. So now, what if I told you that a live recording exists in which Billy Joel actually sings each of the aforementioned songs, Sir Elton’s jams included? It sounds like a joke, but it isn’t.

Paste has actually acquired a recording of Joel performing at Giants Stadium in Rutherford, New Jersey on July 22, 1994. During the show, along with performing versions of some of his own most popular material, Joel mixed in covers of a handful of Elton John’s classics as well. It doesn’t stop there though: Joel also weaved in versions of “Lucille” by Little Richard, “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London”; that’s just scratching the surface. As good as it would feel for it to have been totally spontaneous and not totally about the money (as Joel regularly jokes that it is), there was actually a precedent for the covers.

“I’m sitting across from Elton John. The only other guy I see on stage is Elton John. It’s not just being a musician, but having the best seat in the house,” said Joel in a 1997 interview, referring to the Face to Face tour. It was a sequel of sorts to the original 1994 tour on which John and Joel shared a stage, each night playing a handful of each other’s songs. The July 22 performance we’ve acquired was only the fifth stop on the tour, and the first of a four night stay at the venue.

Though they’ve repeated the act more than a few times in the past, don’t bank on it happening again anytime soon. Since their most recent stint touring together in 2010, Joel has opted out, saying that touring together restricts both of their set lists too much.

Listening to Joel sing these songs during this show is a rare glimpse into what makes each performer so special. Listening to how he mimics and reinterprets John’s equally melodic songwriting is a treat. When asked about what it means to play music with John in such an intimate way Joel remarked on John’s musicianship as a driver of interest. “He’s really a good pianist, so I have to pull out of myself things I wouldn’t normally to try for, to impress him,” he said. Knowing Joel not just likes the music, but respects John as much as fans do only makes the prospect of a show like this infinitely more interesting.—Ben Rosner

Sondre Lerche: Live at Codfish Hollow Barn, 2011

Sondre Lerche is a young singer/songwriter originally hailing from Bergen, Norway, but nowadays he is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Lerche has a phenomenal stage presence that is particularly accented by his vigorous live performances. This concert from the Daytrotter Codfish Hollow Barn in Maquoteka, Iowa is no exception. Backed by an exceptional live band, Sondre Lerche has a dynamic energy that encompasses his entire 11-song set. The crowd clearly feeds off his vim, with the audience dancing away during songs such as “Living Dangerously” and “Sleep on Needles.” Other songs such as “Heartbeat Radio” and “Two Way Monologue” are also climaxes in this show.

Lerche incorporates influences such as The Beatles and The Beach Boys into his music. Despite both of those acts being rather old at this point in the game, Lerche’s sound feels markedly “new-school” and definitely has some ‘80s and ‘90s indie rock feel to it as well. This amalgamation of influences displays his vast knowledge of different types of pop music. Like many successful musicians, he lets many different artists influence his writing.

Although his set is compact and lasts in total a little under an hour, Sondre Lerche doesn’t let himself and his band rest until the very last note. On the penultimate number, “Sleep On Needles” he invites all the other artists who had performed that evening as part of the Barnstormer 4 concert back on stage to perform with him. This gesture not only shows that he respects the other musicians who opened for him, but demonstrates he knows how to make an audience content as well.—Ben Rosner

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