Cracker June 30, 2021 Cheswick
By Frank Harrington Photos: Steve Kalinsky
November 30, 2019 was a Saturday night of tough choices. Greensburg Palace Theatre hosted an all-star tribute to The Beatles “White Album” featuring the legendary Todd Rundgren, Micky Dolenz, Christopher Geppert (Christopher Cross), Joey Molland & Jason Scheff. If you were in the eastern part of Pittsburgh you could have gone to Penn Hills Zanders where 18@Heart, Pittsburgh’s tribute to 80’s & 90’s hard rock warmed up the chilly night. However, right in the middle of Blawnox’s cultural district Cracker played the room where anyone who is anyone has graced a stage….Moondogs! The sold out in advance show screamed “You’re gonna need a bigger stage.”
18 months later, Cracker took the leap and brought their show to the spacious Pittsburgh Shrine Center located in Cheswick. Cheswick was one out of 15 cities chosen for this mid-summer tour.
Since the early 90’s David Lowery and Johnny Hickman brought the world a few FM radio staples that continue in rotation “Get Off This,” “Low,” “Teen Angst,” along with others.
The current Cracker line-up is David Lowery (lead singer, guitar) Johnny Hickman (lead guitar and vocals), Bryan Howard (bass), Carlton “Coco” Owens (drums) and Matt “Pistol” Stoessel on pedal steel guitar).
Cracker is known for changing their set list nighty which gives the band a loose swagger instead of (I hate this expression) “phoning it in.” Opening with the slow-burning “Euro-Trash Girl” grips the audience to tight attention anticipating Hickman’s guitar solos that bring you back to the 1970’s Elvis era when guitar legend James Burton broke into his no note wasted solo on “Never Been to Spain.”
The two-hour set contained a balanced mix of the hits and their catalog from the past several years. Covers of Grateful Dead’s “Loser” and Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” performed mid-set. “The Man in Me” featuring Johnny Hickman on vocals is their nod to the band’s favorite movie “The Big Lebowski.”
Cracker has had a strange past with some Pittsburgh venues where they needed to finish their set by 10pm to allow a change-over to Disco night, Karaoke, open stage, etc. Nice seeing an iconic band perform a full set without feeling the pressure of an early curfew.
Cracker was the first event that I have attended at The Pittsburgh Shrine Center and found it to be user friendly covered from the rain and offered a wide variety of food with a local flair and full bar. Plenty of free spacious paved parking.
The Good Life
The World is Mine
King of Bakersfield
Happy Birthday to Me
Get Off This
The Man in Me
This is Cracker Soul
Where Have Those Days Gone
Get on Down the Road