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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Monday, January 27, 2020

Exclusive Concert Review: Loverboy & Trooper at Casino Rama Resort

Casino Rama Resort Saturday, Jan 11th, 2020 
Review & Photos by Chris Preston

Two legendary Canadian classic rock bands performed at one of my favorite venues on a cold wintery Saturday night. The 5,000 capacity Casino Rama Event Center features outstanding sound, perfect sightlines, and always attracts great acts.   

Trooper (formed in 1975) has been rocking audiences all over Canada for over 45 years! Founding members RA McGuire (lead vocals) and Brian Smith (lead guitar) along with Paul Roland Gogo (keyboards), Clayton Hill (drums) and Scott Brown (bass) brought their iconic brand of party rock to an enthusiastic and energetic crowd at Casino Rama Resort.  

Trooper kicked off the night with their classic song (and perfect opener!) “Here For A Good Time (Not a Long Time)” which got the crowd up on its feet, singing along with every word. The set continued, covering all of the band's biggest hits from the ’70s including "3 Dressed Up as a 9", "Baby Woncha Please Come Home" and the ballad "Two For The Show",  for which the audience loudly sang along.  

Drummer Clayton Hill and bassist Scott Brown launched into a cool drum and bass solo following "Boy With A Beat". Although I usually use the drum solo as an opportunity to freshen my beverage, I stuck around for this one and was glad I did. Hill and Brown were excellent as they wowed the crowd with their outstanding musicianship.  

The hits kept coming, with new song "Cold Water" included amongst classic tracks "Round Round We Go", "General Hand Grenade", "Santa Maria" and "Pretty Lady". I was surprised at how many songs I recognized and found myself singing along as the show went on.  

The bands' energy was infectious and the entire audience was on its feet by the time the first notes of "The Boys in the Bright White Sports Car” played. This was a huge hit for Trooper when their 1979 compilation album Hot Shots was released and it continues to be a fan favorite.  At this point in the show, the audience knew which song was coming next, and the roar that went up when the band launched into "Raise A Little Hell" was absolutely deafening. Trooper’s signature song (and biggest US hit), Raise A Little Hell had the capacity crowd on out of its seats, belting out the lyrics to one of the great Canadian rock songs of the 70s. The perfect choice to finish off a lively and energetic set from one of Canada’s best-loved bands. 
Trooper came to rock and proved without a doubt that rock and roll definitely is alive and well in Canada in the 2020s!  

During the intermission, I decided to move from my seat right up to the pit in front of the stage in order to get the best vantage point of a band I have been a fan of since the mid-80s. I was introduced to Loverboy by my cousins, who were massive fans and played Loverboy’s self-titled debut album non-stop during one of the summer vacations I spent with them in Montreal. Needless to say, I quickly became a fan as well and have continued to listen to their music regularly to this day. Loverboy became one of the biggest bands in rock music during the ’80s releasing 4 multi-platinum albums from 1980-1985 and has sold over 10 million albums in the US and Canada. 

They first exploded onto the rock music scene in 1980 with their classic self-titled debut album and are now celebrating their 40th anniversary as a band in 2020. Original members Mike Reno (lead vocals), Paul Dean (lead guitar), Matt Frennette (drums) and Doug Johnson (keyboards) have been joined by Ken “Spider” Sinnaeve on bass, and they featured a hit-filled setlist for the raucous Rama audience.  

With such a huge catalog of hits, I knew the setlist was going to be outstanding and I was not disappointed. The show kicked off with Doug Johnson’s keyboards leading us into "Notorious", the 1st single from the 1987 album Wildside. This brought the crowd to its feet as guitarist Paul Dean emerged onto the stage followed by lead singer Mike Reno. Notorious has that perfect sing-along chorus and the audience was more than happy to oblige.  

From there the hits kept coming, with "Lucky Ones" from their 2nd album Get Lucky and a song I had hoped they would play, "Queen of the Broken Hearts" from Keep It Up. This one was a highlight for me and it has been one of my favorite Loverboy tracks for years. "Take Me To The Top" and "It’s Your Life" led into their beautiful ballad “This Could Be The Night” with Mike Reno showing that his vocal chops are still top-notch by hitting some of those unbelievably high notes. One couple even danced in the aisle!  

The musical talent in this band is second to none, and it was on full display on this night with a highlight being Matt Frennette’s spectacular drum solo. I’ve always thought Matt was one of the most underrated drummers in the business and it was such a thrill to see his prowess on the drums in person.  

From this point in the show, the band locked into high gear and delivered stellar versions of "The Kid Is Hot Tonite" (their 1st single ever!), "When It’s Over" and "Hot Girls In Love". The moment that "Turn Me Loose" started sent the crowd into a frenzy as the keyboards and that epic bassline kicked in. Turn Me Loose is still my favorite Loverboy song and I found myself screaming every word as Mike Reno delivered an unbelievable vocal performance. At this point, 5000 Loverboy fans were on their feet as the band finished their set with fan favorites "Working For The Weekend" and "Loving Every Minute Of It".  

Thank you Loverboy and Trooper for a spectacular show and for allowing us to relive some of the magical times that were the 70s and 80s…. even if it was just for a few hours on a cold, wintery night in January.