PHOTOS: The Nielsen Trust feat. Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick in West Reading garage, 06/19/21
Perseverance. Dedication. Stick-to-itiveness. Call it what you will, but The Nielsen Trust was not going to deny their fans a promised show in Berks County on June 19. After a ticketed event at the Pat Garrett Amphitheater with Philadelphia rockers Nick Perri & The Underground Thieves was unfortunately canceled, the band decided to shift gears and offer a free concert at Art on the Avenue in West Reading on the same day as the originally scheduled show.
The new band featuring legendary Cheap Trick guitarist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Nielsen and family, including his two sons and daughter-in-law, was set to be the highlight of a party-like setting at this arts festival on the streets of the old textile mill town. New fans and longtime Cheap Trick followers came from far and wide to see what TNT was set to bring to the temporary stage set up for the Saturday night show. Unfortunately, Mother Nature decided to throw another wrench into their plans. Rain began drenching everything just a few hours before the event and, with about an hour to go before showtime, it became clear that it was not going to let up anytime soon.
The band pivoted again and, with the help of event planners and management at the Nitro Bar, decided to take one more swing at making the show happen. This time, they dismantled the stage and moved it and a slew of high-end gear, including some well-traveled guitars that may have been in Budokan, Japan at some point in their lives, into a large garage attached to the bar, constructed of the red brick and corrugated metal common throughout the industrial town.
As the band sound checked around and in between a crew frantically rebuilding the stage and lighting to pull this off, fans lined up around the block in the rain for this increasingly anticipated performance.
About an hour after the newly scheduled showtime, the crowd was allowed in and they quickly filled the space for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a legend like Nielsen in such an impromptu, nontraditional concert setting. It has certainly been a few years since any of these performers had been in a “garage band.”
The band – featuring Miles Nielsen of Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts on lead vocals and guitar, Daxx Nielsen (current Cheap Trick touring drummer) on drums, Miles’ wife Kelly Steward on vocals and percussion and, of course, Rick Nielsen on guitar and vocals – quickly won over the patient audience with a set that spanned over 90 minutes, containing originals from TNT as well as many Cheap Trick classics like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.”
At 72 years young, Rick Nielsen’s stage presence, signature playing, and constant banter and interaction with fans (if you didn’t leave the show with one of his guitar picks tossed from the stage, you likely weren’t trying) made for a lot of smiles and cheers as those in attendance quickly forgot the rain and humidity in the venue. As the band finished up and fans made their way out through the open garage door, most in attendance seemed to realize that they had just experienced a surreal evening in which they saw a rock and roll legend and his supremely talented family put everything they had into making this a night that no one in attendance would soon forget.