Whither Cheap Trick? The longtime rockers from Rockford can be quite confounding. On the one hand, they seem perfectly content to endlessly play their early hits on the oldies and county-fair circuit at shows like this, where they're reduced to opening for Heart (who are at least undergoing somewhat of a resurgence after two decades of making sterile, anonymous music) and, worse, Journey (a mediocre band even in their heyday, now limping along with yet another faceless singer). On the other hand, Cheap Trick are still creatively thriving, even if you wouldn't necessarily know it from their recent set lists. Their aptly titled 2003 CD, Special One, was their most consistently wonderful album since 1979's Dream Police, and their 2006 follow-up, Rockford, has some mighty fine moments, such as the grandly uncoiling psychedelia of "If It Takes a Lifetime" and the delicately lovely pop jangle "Oh Claire." Just a few years ago, these Tricksters were mixing up their set lists with rare obscurities, but nowadays they don't seem to trust that their aging audience can handle exhilarating tunes like the swarming guitars of "Sorry Boy" and the glam-tastically spacy "Hummer" instead of yet another bellow through the bombastically hollow cliches of "The Flame." C'mon, Cheap Trick: Take a chance on your own rock & roll. Also Tues.
Sun., Sept. 28, 7 p.m.; Tue., Sept. 30, 7 p.m., 2008